Japan: Rising Sun Notes

for The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

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Page 12 of 13

Notes from The Rising Sun, The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945 by John Toland

Book Club Edition, Random House, New York, copyright 1970

In late November, 1941 [probably November 27; unclear from text] General MacArthur, head of  the U.S. military occupiers of the Philippines, was instructed that negotiations with Japan had been terminated “for all practical purposes,” that Japanese “hostile action possible at any moment,” and most importantly that “The United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act. This policy should not, repeat not, be construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize your defense.” [WM: which really sounds like permission to attack first. See also MacArthur sources.] The commander of the Hawaiian Department of the Army, General Walter C. Short, received similar instructions, as did the Pacific naval commanders, Admiral Thomas C. Hart and Husband E. Kimmel. [220]

Yet Kurusu and Nomura had another meeting with FDR [probably 27th; unclear]. [221]

The morning of November 28, 1941 again Stimson saw FDR before breakfast, giving him an update of the Japanese Indochina expedition and urging him to order an attack on it using bombers based in the Philippines. FDR instead wanted to send a personal message to the Emperor, but it was never sent [see below] [222-223]

Toland believes that at that moment the Emperor “would have been receptive” to a message from FDR. The jushin, the 8 former prime ministers, were consulted. The morning of November 29 they met with Togo and Tojo, who thought further negotiations after the December 1 deadline were useless, to be used only “to facilitate operations.” Some jushin objected or asked pointed questions, believing it would be better to endure deprivation than go to war.  This was weighed against the likelihood of an American attack after Japan was weakened. They argued whether resources would be sufficient for a war. Okada even argued it was unjust to take rice from China paying with “Army script.” The concerns were conveyed to the Emperor after lunch. [223-226]

Despite “almost universal disapproval” by the jushin, Tojo made it clear that since America had not negotiated, the war would start. The army and navy had decided it would start December 8, but Foreign Minister Togo, and even Prime Minister Tojo and Finance Minister Kaya only learned that from the Navy at the meeting. Japanese diplomats in Washington were to be kept in the dark because the Navy planned a surprise attack. Togo objected that it would be dishonorable to attack without declaring war. “None of the civilian members of the Cabinet or high court officials, like Kido, yet had an inkling of the main target [Pearl Harbor] – nor would they be told. [226-227]

Togo’s dispatch about the war decision of November 29 to the Japanese ambassador to Germany was intercepted and decoded by the U.S., and read by Roosevelt personally. It said “The time of the breaking out of this war may come quicker than anyone dreams.” [228]

On December 1, 1941 after an imperial conference, the Emperor “affixed his seal” to the decision for war. [230-231]

Only on December 2, 1941, was the Emperor told the actual plans, including the attack on Pearl Harbor. “It is also well documented that he issued explicit directives to give America due notice before the attack.” [232]

December 8, 1941 in Japan, at the time of attack, would be the morning of December 7 in Hawaii due to the structure of time zones. [232]

On December 3, 1941 FDR told E. Stanley Jones he did not send a letter directly to the Emperor because “I don’t want to hurt the Japanese envoys here at Washington by going over their heads to the Emperor.” [235]

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