Document on Indochina Handed by the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador (Nomura), 8 August 1941

[WASHINGTON,] August 8, 1941.

The President's proposal was that, if the Japanese Government would refrain from occupying Indochina or establishing bases there with its military and naval forces, or, in case such steps had already actually been begun, would withdraw such forces, the President would do everything in his power to obtain from the Chinese Government, the British Government and the Netherland Government, and the Government of the United States would of course itself give, a binding and solemn declaration, provided the Japanese Government would make the same commitment to regard French Indochina as a "neutralized" country in the same way in which Switzerland had up to now been regarded by the powers as a neutralized country; that such a binding and solemn declaration on the part of each of the Governments mentioned would imply that none of these Governments would undertake any military act of aggression against French Indochina and that each of those Governments would refrain from the exercise of any military control within or over French Indochina. The President's proposal contemplated further that the Government of the United States would endeavor to obtain from Great Britain and the other interested powers a guarantee that, so long as the present emergency continues, the local French authorities in Indochina would remain undisturbed in control of the territory of French Indochina. Subsequently, the President's proposal with regard to French Indochina was extended to include Thailand as well, and the Japanese Government was informed that, should the Japanese Government accept the proposal of the President and abandon its present course with regard to French Indochina, the President would request of the other Governments which he had mentioned in connection with his proposal concerning French Indochina the same declaration and guarantee with regard to Thailand.

The Government of the United States feels that its views in regard to a broad understanding which would be calculated to establish and maintain peace in the Pacific area to the benefit of each and every country concerned in that area have been made abundantly clear in various official utterances and acts and in the course of the long series of conversations which the Secretary of State has had during recent months with the Japanese Ambassador. It feels that the Japanese Government is well aware of its attitude, of what it is able and willing to do, and of what it cannot do. It therefore feels that the proposals advanced in the document handed to the Secretary by the Japanese Ambassador on August 6 are lacking in responsiveness to the suggestion made by the President, the specifications of which have been for convenience of reference reiterated above.

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. 708-709

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