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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Backing Japan Into a Corner

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Freedom Betrayed, by Herbert Hoover
…as Japan was the direct route by which the United States entered the war it is necessary to examine the major actions during this period which brought about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  This is the more necessary since not only were the actions of our government not disclosed to the American people at the time, but a generation of school children have grown up who never knew the truth of these actions.
 
This is how Hoover begins this section covering the time leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  I would only add that not only were the actions of the government not told to the people at the time, but much of the official government statements regarding this subject was misleading at best and lies at worst.  Additionally, it isn’t just that the school children didn’t know the truth of these actions, but that they were purposely told an inaccurate story.  Sadly, more than one generation of children have been told this story, and believe it with a faith stronger than religion.
Hoover recounts many episodes of Japanese attempts to secure peace or at least a truce, including the replacement of the anti-American Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka with Admiral Teijiro Toyoda, who was pro Anglo Saxon.  Hoover counts this as a signal to Roosevelt and Secretary Hull that more liberal elements in Japan had now come into ascendency.  However, this was lost on the American administration:
…on July 25, 1941, a month after Hitler’s attack upon Stalin, President Roosevelt, suddenly ignoring the Japanese proposals, announced further economic sanctions upon them.
I have previously written about the myth of Pearl Harbor here:
It is a review of the book by George Victor, The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable.  I will refer to this book further while discussing this section of Freedom Betrayed.
Victor believes a significant change came to Roosevelt regarding his view toward Japan in the summer of 1941.  Roosevelt became suddenly much more aggressive and provocative toward the Japanese.  Victor believes this change was prompted by the German invasion of Russia, and Roosevelt’s desire to draw Japanese attention away from Asia and the Russians and toward the Pacific and Americans.  Whereas prior to the German invasion Russia faced little in terms of risk in the war to date, post the German invasion Russia was fighting a fierce and able enemy.  Why Roosevelt had this concern for Russia’s fate is unknown, at least to me.  Hoover’s statement above is consistent with this idea that Roosevelt suddenly took a different approach during that summer.
Hoover recounts multiple and continual efforts by the Japanese to meet and negotiate with the Americans:
On August 8, 1941, Ambassador Nomura, on instructions from Tokyo, formally proposed to Secretary Hull a meeting of Prime Minister Konoye with President Roosevelt at some place on the American side of the Pacific.  Secretary of War Stimson was against the meeting.
An entry in Ambassador Grew’s diary…dated August 18, 1941, summarized a long discussion between Ambassador Grew and Foreign Minister Toyoda.  As to Konoye’s visit, Toyoda commented that:
…the Premier’s going abroad would have no precedent in Japanese history.
On August 18, Grew telegraphed Washington his recommendation:
The opportunity is here presented…for an act of the highest statesmanship with the possible overcoming thereby of apparently insurmountable obstacles to peace hereafter in the Pacific.
It seems “statesmanship” was not on the minds of the statesmen in Washington.
                               
On August 28, Nomura presented a personal letter from Prime Minister Konoye to President Roosevelt….This communication again urged the President to agree to a meeting….
After a meeting between Ambassador Grew and the Japanese Prime Minister on September 6, Grew informed the Prime Minister that his report to the President on this conversation would be the most important cable of his diplomatic career:
…Prince Konoye, and consequently the Government of Japan, conclusively and wholeheartedly agree with the four principles enunciated by the Secretary of State as a basis for the rehabilitation of relations between the United States and Japan.
The “four principles” touched upon in this proposal, also known as the “four Hull principles", are the four points below:
·         Respect for the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of each and all nations.
·         Support of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
·         Support of the principle of equality, including equality of commercial opportunity.
·         Non-disturbance of the status quo in the Pacific, however the status quo may be altered by peaceful means.
That Japan agreed “wholeheartedly” with these four principles would have seemed like a strong basis by which to discuss peace, if peace was the desired objective. Finish reading