Japan-US negotiations after Pearl Harbor

All,

The Japanese strategy was never to 'defeat' US. That all agreed was not possible, at least in the 1941 time frame.

The entire strategy was built on hitting US Pacific Fleet enough to not interfere while gobbling up the areas Japan really wanted to get: Philippines, Dutch East India, British possessions and Vietnam (French).

After a good hit at PH, it was envisaged (sic!) that US would be devastated and seek peace rather than fight (cowards as they are!).

It did not go according to plan, really.

First of all: the declaration of war should have been deposited in Washington PRIOR to the attack. Due to decoding delays and things, it now became q sneak attack without warning.

As has been discussed (to death) is that any Japanese strategy involving occupation of SW Pacific had to counter a US intervention. PH was required.

After the initial easy victories strategy changed into 'let us do more'. And that was not a great idea either.

So, let us now imagine:

1) The declaration of war is delivered on time. It is not a sneak attack (less a few hours).
2) Let the carriers be in PH and get killed - not a necessity really in this WI
3) The Japanese have a limited run as per the first initial plan. No expansionist dreams of further conquests.

Here is the thing:

Japan is suing for peace via a 'broker'. (USSR, Spain, Brazil, ???)

Japan is guaranteeing that no US possessions will be harmed and that Philippines will be -co-governed.

Japan is only 'taking' the oil and timber and Singapore and .... -? all British and Dutch possessions, trying to tell US that there is no need for any war now.

The obstacles are of course:
1) PH is hard to not avenge
2) China is still unresolved - and that was the sole reason for the oil embargo
3) Philippines - co-governing? really? ----> comments on this one or other suggestions
4) other things

What possibly could enable something like this:
1) US is now onto 'Germany first' - Japan is on the back-burner and a cease fire/peace could be a great idea to buy time
2) If a cease fire/non-fighting situation is allowed to sir for several months, the entire campaign might 'fizzle'. It is hard to keep the animosity going for many months
3) US primary interests might not be threatened (this is debatable I should think).
4) US population might not be so interested in Japan if the casualty figures a low and as US is now going to war in Europe against Germany. After all, more US citizens were of European descent (1st and 2nd generation) than of Asian descent. They might have felt that Japan is too far away but the 'motherland' is just around the corner.

Of course this all depends on Japan to curb its ambitions and humble itself a bit - and that could be difficult.

Any takers on this fanciful idea?
 
Your idea is actually the same as that of the Japanese in history, there is nothing incomprehensible. Neither you nor them planned a total war that would determine the life and death of the country, but a limited war of the 18th century. After one or two decisive battles in both the first Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, Japan pushed two large powers with poor mobilization and projection capabilities to the negotiating table and then bargained.

But the Pacific War was completely different. First of all, the United States' mobilization capabilities, industrial production capacity, and projection capabilities are far superior to those of Japan. The contradiction between the United States and Japan was already buried in the Portsmouth Treaty. Or to put it bluntly, after the disintegration of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, the successive U.S. presidents and naval operations ministers never thought that they would not win the war with Japan. Washington would only give Japan "peace" after the last drop of blood was drained from the Japanese Empire.
 
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IIRC, the timing of the DOW by the Japanese embassy in Washington was supposed to be more or less simultaneous to the attack on PH. The Japanese strategy was that they would build a series of fortresses on Pacific islands, Truk, etc, that would make it to difficult for the US to attack Japan. They envisaged that the US would have to take an island before moving on to the next island and that they would have to take every single island where the Japanese had a garrison. It apparently never occurred to the Japanese that all the US had to do was take a few islands, sink the transports, and let the garrisons whither on the vine. They expected the US to get weary of taking every single island and then start negotiations so they don't have to bother with taking the islands. Wars are rarely won when you expect the enemy to follow the strategy that you want them to as they will never do so.
 
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1) The declaration of war is delivered on time. It is not a sneak attack (less a few hours).
2) Let the carriers be in PH and get killed - not a necessity really in this WI
3) The Japanese have a limited run as per the first initial plan. No expansionist dreams of further conquests.


Any takers on this fanciful idea?
It is very fanciful.
1)Even if the declaration of war arrived just before the attack starts I doubt it makes much difference to US attitudes, the Kido Butai had been underway for weeks and the planning for PH had been going on for months,. The US will see the negotiations as a sham and the declaration as nothing but a smokescreen to justify a brutal attack. You also have to factor in racism towards the Japanese.

2)As to the carriers well that makes little or no difference in the long term.

3) Now you seem to be advocating a more restrained and realistic Japanese government, which is really where this idea founders. I cannot see a realistic Japanese government lanuching such a reckless gamble as PH.
 
Fair comments.

Correct that US could not see any other outcome. a US victory was clear to all. The thing was: how could it be achieved?

I have a quote somewhere: "it was Japan's prerogative to define the terms for the war".

Exactly that. Defining how the enemy should behave and then project that into strategy and building the necessary resources (ships!) is ... folly.

That was probably also where Yamamoto had a view that it might be possible to grab the resources (SW Pacific) while US was hurting and then seek a peace agreement.

Would US ever consider a 'fizzle' for a year or two while they were busy with Germany?

... and if they did?
 
The only ways I see for the USA to negotiate is if the British and French and Soviets join the axis. Or if Japan doesn't attack the USA, Roosevelt thought that an attack on the Philippines wouldn't be provocative enough but you can just ignore the Philippines and try to placate American public opinion as much as possible.
 
1) What you're calling the Japanese "DoW" was nothing of the sort.
2) the Americans knew what it said before Pearl was hit. They knew before the Japanese in the embassy did.
3) in any case, the Japanese planes were already in the air on the attack.

Basically, after Pearl, no matter how modern apologists for Japan try to massage the issue, the US was not going to settle for anything short of complete victory.
Partly it's that it's the first time since the War of 1812 that American soil has been attacked, and partly it's the 'Yellow Peril' racism of the time. It would have been bad enough if a White country had dared attack the US. But an Asiatic one?

The latter reason is, of course, ridiculous. But racism and White Supremacy were still huge back then.
 
The so-called "declaration of war" by Japan was no such thing:

"Around ten o'clock the next morning, December 7, the intercepted text of the missing segment of Telegram No. 902 was delivered to FDR. Part 14 accused the American government of having used Nomura's negotiations with Hull "to obstruct Japan's efforts toward the establishment of peace through the creation of a New Order in East Asia." As a consequence, the Japanese government had come to the conclusion that an agreement could not be reached with the United States "through further negotiations." 40

"This was all that Part 14 said. It did not declare war. It did not sever diplomatic relations or reserve freedom of action. On the surface, it amounted to nothing more than a suspension of the Hull-Nomura conversations. 41 A few hours after Roosevelt read the intercept, the hidden meaning of Part 14 was unveiled at Pearl Harbor..." https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1996/fall/butow.html
 
Thanks David. I admit I was ignorant about the wording of the 'DoW' - which it was not then. Thanks.

It is an interesting observation regarding the differentiation between PH (as in US property) and the Philippines.

It s a new twist (yes?) to this:

If Japan had left PH alone but focused on capturing Philippines (and of course the rest of the SW Pacific - the whole reason behind it all), US might have let it slip?

If that could be an option, it has some consequences:

1) Would Germany still have declared war on US? The DoW against US was really just a formal thing. The shooting war in the Atlantic (between US and Germany) was going full tilt anyway.
2) If no German DoW against US, it is difficult for US to do more than just fighting in the Atlantic. that is not good for UK.
3) If British possessions are invaded by Japan, how much will US support Britain? Roosevelt was rather cynical about this 'special relationship'. If US was not hit (no PH) would he sacrifice UK?

However, the entire Japanese strategy was centered on one thing: US could not stand by and doing nothing; hence PH. But: what f they did and Japan had known about that?

THAT is a new twist to this discussion.
 

Geon

Donor
If the Philippines were invaded it is certain the U.S, would have declared war against Japan To be sure there would be more clamor from the America First group. But, at this point Americans would have - grudgingly - gone along with their President.

But that still leaves the American fleet as a big problem for Japan. The Japanese are going to have to pull a major and I do mean major naval victory in the first month or two of the war somehow to knock the USN out of the fight early. With no surprise attack that might and I emphasize the word might here cause FDR's political foes to start agitating for a cease fire.

In the meantime Japan might be best served by asking Germany to hold off on any declaration of war on the U.S until the U.S.N. suffers a major defeat such as I mention above. Having the Philippines fall into Japanese hands, losing a sizable portion of the Pacific Fleet and having Germany declare war on the U.S. might aid psychologically in pushing the America First group to demonstrate demanding an end to "Roosevelt's War."

Japan could further after the naval defeat - which is by no means a sure thing - make the offer to return the Philippines to the United States but with the agreement no offensive warships or aircraft would be based there. In return Japan would agree to a cease-fire and withdraw from the islands and also withdraw from the Tripartite Pact.

One other thing would help Japan here. Treat western POWs better than in OTL. I've said this on several other such threads but it bears repeating. The Japanese record of treating POWs was atrocious. If they want to have the chance for peace they need to treat their prisoners at least there western prisoners with a modicum of respect and decency. Doing so, might go a long way toward smoothing things for the peace conference.

All of this is a long shot at best in my opinion, however. Sadly, as pointed out earlier racial attitudes played a role in the American reactions in the Pacific War.
 
The moment Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, they lost both any chance at a favorable peace and any chance at a military victory or even stalemate.

Perhaps if they had invaded the Philippines first, lured the US fleet out and crushed them, and then offered generous terms, maybe the US could have been persuaded to just take back whatever POWs had been taken and then cut its losses.

But after Pearl Harbor? Even if the DoW had been somehow delivered early in the mere hours before Japanese planes had arrived over Pearl Harbor, the impression had already been made: Japan had, while still negotiating with the US (which now would be viewed as a bad-faith effort to keep the US guard down), gone and killed several thousand US servicemen and sank/heavily damaged many warships.

It's one thing in the eyes of the American public for Japan to take some random set of island nations in the Pacific. It's quite another for several thousand US citizens and warships to be attacked and destroyed in a sneak attack while negotiations are still ongoing. A stab in the back, so to speak.

Even if Japan had somehow both destroyed everything at Pearl Harbor and even (ASB at this point) conquered Hawaii, all it means is that the US spends an extra few years recovering before the war ends in the same way, with possibly even more Japanese deaths and a Soviet-US split of Japan.
 
A couple of thoughts which I admit are mutually exclusive. One is not to invade the Philippines. Sure a strong fleet at Manila would be a threat to the flow of raw materials from the Dutch and British colonies but would the US declared war to save Singapore and the Dutch East Indies? Marshall and Stark were looking for more time before the fighting started so I suspect their advice would have been not to declare war. If war did come with the US still possessing the Philippines they would have been difficult to reinforce and supply so Japan could have picked them off at their leisure.
Alternatively Japan could have ignored the US Pacific fleet. IT was in many ways a paper tiger; lacking the fleet train and transports necessary to mount an island hoping campaign. Although neither side realized it aircraft not battleships would be the capital ships of the war, It wasn't until June 1943 that the first Essex and Independence class aircraft carriers reached the Pacific.
 

DougM

Donor
If you sneak up being someone, put a gun to the back of there head, the put a paper in front of there facing telling them you are declaring war as you pull the trigger is that is it not a sneak attack?

And as noted it was not a DOW but basically a cancelation of negotiations. Negotiations that had been for at least several weeks if not months been nothing but a way to distract the US.

My question to many of you is... have you ever talked with anyone alive on Dec 7th?
I have and nothing that Japan was capable of actually doing on or after December 1st 1941 was going to get the folks alive then to agree to terms. It just was not happen.
Try to remember what the average citizen in the US was feeling 19 years ago... And you have a bit of the idea.
To the people of the US in 1942 it was not a war it was a crusade.
 
The so-called "declaration of war" by Japan was no such thing:

"Around ten o'clock the next morning, December 7, the intercepted text of the missing segment of Telegram No. 902 was delivered to FDR. Part 14 accused the American government of having used Nomura's negotiations with Hull "to obstruct Japan's efforts toward the establishment of peace through the creation of a New Order in East Asia." As a consequence, the Japanese government had come to the conclusion that an agreement could not be reached with the United States "through further negotiations." 40

"This was all that Part 14 said. It did not declare war. It did not sever diplomatic relations or reserve freedom of action. On the surface, it amounted to nothing more than a suspension of the Hull-Nomura conversations. 41 A few hours after Roosevelt read the intercept, the hidden meaning of Part 14 was unveiled at Pearl Harbor..." https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1996/fall/butow.html
"I must say that in all my conversations with you during the last nine months I have never uttered one word of untruth. This is borne out absolutely by the record.

"In all my fifty years of public service , I have never seen a document that was more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions --- infamous falsehoods and distortions on a scale so huge that I never imagined until today that any Government on this planet was capable of uttering them."

-- Secretary of State Cordell Hull to Japanese Ambassadors Nomura and Kurusu
 
The problem with Japan ever having a chance in hell of successfully negotiating a lasting peace with the US was how horribly they treated their POWs. Needless to say I highly suspect that once it became known how poorly the Japanese had treated their POWs even if the US had to negotiate due to a series of defeats would it simply use the time to build up its armed forces and negotiate to get the POWs home and then promptly turn around and declare war again.
 
If the Philippines were invaded it is certain the U.S, would have declared war against Japan To be sure there would be more clamor from the America First group. But, at this point Americans would have - grudgingly - gone along with their President.
"Richardson asked the President if the United States was going to war. Roosevelt's view was:

At least as early as October 8, 1940, ...affairs had reached such a state that the United States would become involved in a war with Japan. ... 'that if the Japanese attacked Thailand, or the Kra Peninsula, or the Dutch East Indies we would not enter the war, that if they even attacked the Philippines he doubted whether we would enter the war, but that they (the Japanese) could not always avoid making mistakes and that as the war continued and that area of operations expanded sooner or later they would make a mistake and we would enter the war.' ... .[6][7]
"

You use certain,, Roosevelt says doubtful
 

Geon

Donor
"Richardson asked the President if the United States was going to war. Roosevelt's view was:

"

You use certain,, Roosevelt says doubtful
In which case did FDR remember we had troops and naval units stationed in the Philippines? If the Japanese invaded would the troops have been told to simply surrender or would they be allowed by the Japanese to be evacuated? If the Japanese invaded American troops and naval units would have been in a shooting war with the Japanese.
 
In which case did FDR remember we had troops and naval units stationed in the Philippines? If the Japanese invaded would the troops have been told to simply surrender or would they be allowed by the Japanese to be evacuated? If the Japanese invaded American troops and naval units would have been in a shooting war with the Japanese.
I'm sure the President totally forgot about that.
 

nbcman

Donor
"Richardson asked the President if the United States was going to war. Roosevelt's view was:

"

You use certain,, Roosevelt says doubtful
You know that is from Admiral Richardson's 1942 testimony after PH (and after he was fired in 1941) and not necessarily President Roosevelt's view in 1940 or 1941, right? Check the footnotes.

EDIT: Here's an image from the source document (Part 40 "Congressional Commmittee Report and Conclusions"[sic]) where it clearly states 'According to the admiral's account the President replied -":
1600114947992.png
 
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I've talked to a lot of WWII veterans, including my own parents, and they are unanimous that the timing of the delivery of the Japanese ultimatum in Washington would have had no effect whatsoever on their anger toward Japan. Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack. Period.
 
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