Memorandum by the Secretary of State Regarding a Conversation With the British Ambassador (Halifax), 29 November 1941


[WASHINGTON,] November 29, 1941.

I expressed the view that the diplomatic part of our relations with Japan was virtually over and that the matter will now go to the officials of the Army and the Navy with whom I have talked and to whom I have given my views for whatever they are worth. Speaking in great confidence, I said that it would be a serious mistake for our country and other countries interested in the Pacific situation to make plans of resistance without including the possibility that Japan may move suddenly and with every possible element of surprise and spread out over considerable areas and capture certain positions and posts before the peaceful countries interested in the Pacific would have time to confer and formulate plans to meet these new conditions; that this would be on the theory that the Japanese recognize that their course of unlimited conquest, now renewed all along the line probably is a desperate gamble and requires the utmost boldness and risk.

I also said to the Ambassador that a calm deliberate Japanese Government would more than ever desire to wait another thirty day to see whether the German Army is driven out of Russia by winter. I added that the extremist fire-eating elements in Japan, who have preached a general forward movement supported by the Army and Navy have influenced a vast portion of the Japanese public to clamor for such a movement, would probably take no serious notice of the Russian-German situation, but would go forward in this desperate undertaking which they have advocated for some time; that at least it would be a mistake not to consider this possibility as entirely real, rather than to assume that they would virtually halt and engage in some movements into Thailand and into the Burma Road while waiting the results on the Russian front.


Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943), pp. 815-16

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