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Notes on The Memoirs of Cordell Hull
by William P. Meyers

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Page 28
Hull Ultimatum and Pearl Harbor Diplomacy

Continued from Prelude to the Battle of Pearl Harbor

Having previously explained that he and President Roosevelt and the Cabinet understood there was a deadline and the Japanese government felt compelled to recognize a state of war if a peace agreement was not reached by November 29, Secretary of State handed Japanese Ambassador Nomura what is sometimes called the Hull Ultimatum. This had ten proposals, some of which matched earlier Japanese proposals and some of which Hull knew meant he was essentially declaring war on Japan.

The Hull Ultimatum, or November 26 Hull Note, offered "A multilateral nonaggression pact" [quoting Hull's memoirs, not the note itself.]. An Open Door policy in the French colony of Indochina. The destruction of Chinese governments other than that of the war lords (Chiang Kai-shek).

On the positive side, the U.S. offered "relinquishment of extraterritorial rights in China," but that should have been offered to the Chinese decades early, not to the Japanese.

The U.S. would end the embargo. In return all Japan had to do was withdraw all her armed forces from all of China. The U.S. colony in the Philippines, in addition to the other white supremacist colonies in Asia, were not mentioned, and so would maintain their prior status. [1083]

Hull says "Later on, Japanese propaganda ... tried to distort our memorandum of November 26 by calling it an ultimatum." [1084]

Hull's excuse was "the Japanese fleet was already steaming toward Pearl Harbor." [1084] [WPM: But Cordell Hull did not know that on November 26, 1941. Also, in addition to the U.S. war fleet at Pearl Harbor, a U.S. Navy fleet was steaming towards the Philippines or China or Formosa or French Indochina, we will never know where it would have been directed to attack, but we know [See MacArthur notes #4] that on the November 27 General MacArthur, in the Philippines, received permission to attack the Japanese at his discretion.]

Hull and the Japanese Ambassadors Kurusu and Nomura continued talking right up until the word arrived that the Battle of Pearl Harbor began, but each side knew the war was about to begin. [1083-1094]

"General Marshall and Admiral Stark sent a memorandum to the President that same day [November 27], with a copy to me, in which they pleaded for more time, particularly because of the reinforcements en route or destined for the Philippines." [1087]

On November 27, 1941 Hull told the War Council that his November 26, 1941 memorandum would not be accepted by Japan, and they "should include in their calculations the assumption that the Japanese might make surprise attacks at various points simultaneously." [1087]

Hull read an intercepted Japanese diplomatic message on November 27 indicating that negotiations were over, but the ambassadors were to keep up pretenses. [1087. WPM: So Hull was just keeping up peaceful pretenses, and knew it was all a sham]

Australia offered to act as a mediator between Japan and the U.S. on November 29, but Hull replied "that the diplomatic state was over." [1089]

On December 6, 1941 the U.S. had reports of a large Japanese battle fleet heading towards the Kra Peninsula in Thailand. [1093]

President Roosevelt had earlier prepared a peace message to be sent directly to the Empire of Japan. Hull was against it, but it was finally sent to Ambassador Grew in Tokyo at 9:00 PM on November 6. "This message did not get to Ambassador Grew ... before the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor." [1091-1094]

On the morning of December 7, 1941 Hull was getting decrypted sections of the Japanese response rejecting his November 26 proposal. With the Japanese Ambassadors waiting in his office around 2:05 PM, President Roosevelt called and informed him "There's a report that the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor." [1095]

Hull admitted Nomura and Kurusu at 2:20 PM. They apologized for not delivering the Japanese reply by 1:00 PM, as per their instructions, and attributed the delay to difficulties translating it into English. Hull pretended to look at the note for the first time, to keep the Japanese from knowing their code had been broken. Hull then verbally attacked the Ambassadors, but did not tell them of the reported attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Hull writes "Normura's last meeting with me was in keeping with the ineptitude that had marked his handling of the discussions from the beginning." [1096]

Hull issued a statement to the press at 6:00 PM stating "Japan has made a treacherous and utterly unprovoked attack upon the United States." [1098]

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