Japan-US negotiations after Pearl Harbor

FWIW, Admiral Leahy who was present with Richardson at the meeting with FDR said "I am surprised also to hear Richardson's recollection that the President said he would not go to war if they, if the Japanese, invaded the Philippines.

From my knowledge of the President and my relations with him in the matter of war for the preceding years I feel quite sure that if the Japanese had invaded the Philippines, which was then under our Government, the President would have recommended a declaration of war. [923]

Senator FERGUSON. In other words, you had conversations with the President that brings you now to this answer that if the Japs had invaded the Philippines he would have recommended to Congress that we go to war?

Admiral LEAHY. That is my thought from a very intimate knowledge of what the President was thinking about and doing.

Senator FERGUSON. Yes.

Admiral LEAHY. I cannot believe that he would not have recommended war if the Japanese had invaded our territory.


Now maybe Admiral Leahy's memory wasn't perfect or he had a motive to distort the facts--but the same may be said about Admiral Richardson. In any event, in determining whether the US would have gone to war if the Philippines had been attacked, one alleged statement by FDR, of whose exact contents we cannot be sure- --and which if made, was made in October 1940, well over a year before the start of the Pacific War--simply cannot be decisive.
 
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FWIW, Admiral Leahy who was present with Richardson at the meeting with FDR said "I am surprised also to hear Richardson's recollection that the President said he would not go to war if they, if the Japanese, invaded the Philippines.

From my knowledge of the President and my relations with him in the matter of war for the preceding years I feel quite sure that if the Japanese had invaded the Philippines, which was then under our Government, the President would have recommended a declaration of war. [923]

Senator FERGUSON. In other words, you had conversations with the President that brings you now to this answer that if the Japs had invaded the Philippines he would have recommended to Congress that we go to war?

Admiral LEAHY. That is my thought from a very intimate knowledge of what the President was thinking about and doing.

Senator FERGUSON. Yes.

Admiral LEAHY. I cannot believe that he would not have recommended war if the Japanese had invaded our territory.


Now maybe Admiral Leahy's memory wasn't perfect or he had a motive to distort the facts--but the same may be said about Admiral Richardson. In any event, in determining whether the US would have gone to war if the Philippines had been attacked, one alleged statement by FDR, of whose exact contents we cannot be sure- --and which if made, was made in October 1940, well over a year before the start of the Pacific War--simply cannot be decisive.
That does not contradict the statement. I also believe that Roosevelt would have recommended a declaration of war to Congress while simultaneously accepting that Roosevelt was not confident that he would be able to sway Congress.

The admiral did not say that the president said he would not go to war, he said the country wouldn't go to war. I don't know why the admiral said that, did he misunderstand the original admiral or did someone misrepresent it?

You won't hear anything from me that ever suggests Roosevelt tried to stop the war with Japan or Germany. It's my opinion as long as Roosevelt is president Japan will have no hope of maintaining a war exclusive to the Europeans powers. Roosevelt was simply too good, better than he even thought perhaps, at inciting.


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I deleted a post about the original book quote but basically I said that just because it's a quote by someone else doesn't mean it's no true. If Roosevelt said it was a lie then I'm happy to reconsider my perspective on Roosevelt's confidence in the war shy Congress
 
That does not contradict the statement. I also believe that Roosevelt would have recommended a declaration of war to Congress while simultaneously accepting that Roosevelt was not confident that he would be able to sway Congress.
Well, Leahy specifically said he was surprised by Richardson's statement about the Philippines. But let's leave this aside. Let's leave aside that we don't know exactly what FDR said in October 1940, the degree of doubt that he expressed or meant about the Congressional reaction, and the fact that he was far from infallible in predicting the reactions of Congress. This was said--whatever exactly was said-- at the height of the election campaign, when Willkie was apparently starting to make headway with the peace issue. https://books.google.com/books?id=9ZUniR1uQcUC&pg=PP314 FDR might momentarily have exaggerated the extent of isolationism in Congress and the public. It may have been a mere passing mood. But in any event, this statement was made well over a year before Pearl Harbor. Much had changed in the interim:

"Gallup also gave the American public credit for taking a "realistic attitude on Japanese-American relations," saying "the public has consistently during the past two years favored stronger measures against Japan than any put into effect previous to the summer of 1941." He noted:

"Ever since July of this year, a majority of voters have been in favor of taking definite steps to curb Japanese expansion even if it meant risking war. This sentiment increased sharply when the Japanese invaded Indo-China in July. From this moment Institute surveys found two-thirds or more of the American people willing to take the risk of war in order to top Japan from becoming more powerful."
Two-thirds of the American public would be willing to risk war "to stop Japan from becoming more powerful" but they wouldn't be willing to go to war if Japan actually attacked American territory, no doubt killing a large number of American military and civilian personnel in the process?! Do you realize how absurd that sounds?

Sorry, if you are going to counter the obvious reasons why the US would go to war with Japan over an attack on the Philippines, you will have to do better than one alleged statement made by FDR fourteen months earlier. You keep on coming back to it because it is the only argument you have, but it is not a strong one.
 
There was a formal declaration of war delivered by the Japanese Foreign Minister to American Ambassador in Tokyo about 11:00 AM on December 8, 1941 (Japanese Time)..The text read
“No. 136 – Strictly Confidential/Investigation V
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tokyo, December 8, 1941

“Excellency:

I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that there has arisen a state of war between Your Excellency’s country and Japan beginning today. I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to Your Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Shigenori Togo
Minister of Foreign Affairs…”

Much like the German and Italian Declarations of war a few days later this would have started hostilities even if Pearl Harbor and the Philippines had not been attacked.
 
There was a formal declaration of war delivered by the Japanese Foreign Minister to American Ambassador in Tokyo about 11:00 AM on December 8, 1941 (Japanese Time)..The text read
“No. 136 – Strictly Confidential/Investigation V
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tokyo, December 8, 1941

“Excellency:

I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that there has arisen a state of war between Your Excellency’s country and Japan beginning today. I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to Your Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Shigenori Togo
Minister of Foreign Affairs…”

Much like the German and Italian Declarations of war a few days later this would have started hostilities even if Pearl Harbor and the Philippines had not been attacked.
True, but that is not the document referred to in the OP, which was simply a statement that Japan was breaking off the negotiations.
 
Even if we ignore the sneak attack aspect of Pearl Harbor, Japan's other war crimes would have ensured an unwillingness to negotiate. The American public was appalled by the bombing of Shanghai, the Rape of Nanking, and the three alls policy, among other war crimes to the point that even before Pearl Harbor (depending on how the question was worded) either a majority of a plurality supported stopping Japanese expansionism even if it meant war. The outrage over war crimes in China paled in comparison to that over the Bataan death march. Then there's the issue of Japanese war crimes in Guam, the Aleutian islands, and Japan murdering the entire population of Wake Island. The only for Japan to come out of WWII without losing its empire is to avoid war with the USA. Having the USA agree to anything other than unconditional surrender is ASB. Also if Japan invades China, avoiding war with the USA is implausible.
 
July 26, 1941 may have been a watershed date. On that date Roosevelt issued several executive orders freezing Japanese assets, calling teh Philippine army into US service (Sort of like nationalizing the National Guard) and creating teh U S Army Forces in the Far East with MacArthur in command. After doing this an attack on the Philippines became an attack on US forces. Granted the attack on the USS Paney did not lead to war but there was a prompt apology and an indemnity payment.
 
Well, Leahy specifically said he was surprised by Richardson's statement about the Philippines. But let's leave this aside. Let's leave aside that we don't know exactly what FDR said in October 1940, the degree of doubt that he expressed or meant about the Congressional reaction, and the fact that he was far from infallible in predicting the reactions of Congress. This was said--whatever exactly was said-- at the height of the election campaign, when Willkie was apparently starting to make headway with the peace issue. https://books.google.com/books?id=9ZUniR1uQcUC&pg=PP314 FDR might momentarily have exaggerated the extent of isolationism in Congress and the public. It may have been a mere passing mood. But in any event, this statement was made well over a year before Pearl Harbor. Much had changed in the interim:

"Gallup also gave the American public credit for taking a "realistic attitude on Japanese-American relations," saying "the public has consistently during the past two years favored stronger measures against Japan than any put into effect previous to the summer of 1941." He noted:

"Ever since July of this year, a majority of voters have been in favor of taking definite steps to curb Japanese expansion even if it meant risking war. This sentiment increased sharply when the Japanese invaded Indo-China in July. From this moment Institute surveys found two-thirds or more of the American people willing to take the risk of war in order to top Japan from becoming more powerful."
Two-thirds of the American public would be willing to risk war "to stop Japan from becoming more powerful" but they wouldn't be willing to go to war if Japan actually attacked American territory, no doubt killing a large number of American military and civilian personnel in the process?! Do you realize how absurd that sounds?

Sorry, if you are going to counter the obvious reasons why the US would go to war with Japan over an attack on the Philippines, you will have to do better than one alleged statement made by FDR fourteen months earlier. You keep on coming back to it because it is the only argument you have, but it is not a strong one.
Indeed, Roosevelt was not some passive figure. He acted upon his beliefs that the USA public was too isolationist and with the aid of Japanese militarism he was able to sell the public on the war he wanted. You simultaneously acknowledge that Roosevelt felt he needed to run saying that he would keep the USA out of war and yet also think that he was lying or misrepresenting things when he said he thought that the USA is isolationist?

I never said that they wouldn't go to war over the Philippines, you're saying I've made an argument that I have never made. Literally all I said was that throwing around the word "certain" is overzealous when we're talking about alternative history. The USA under Roosevelt in December 1941 would very likely go to war if Japan only attacked the Philippines.
 
and yet also think that he was lying or misrepresenting things when he said he thought that the USA is isolationist?
I think the question is not whether Roosevelt was misrepresenting things but whether he was misrepresented. Considering the quote in question was attributed to Roosevelt by someone else who is possibly contradicted by another person who was part of the same conversation, the quote is of uncertain reliability.
 
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.
US public opinion would not have tolerated any kind of negotiations after Pearl Harbour- quite rightly!
 
I think the question is not whether Roosevelt was misrepresenting things but whether he was misrepresented. Considering the quote in question was attributed to Roosevelt by someone else who is possibly contradicted by another person who was part of the same conversation, the quote is of uncertain reliability.
Sure, so if Roosevelt contradicted the quote, or if you have even anyone else who contradicted it then feel free to show that it was out of character for Roosevelt. The Admiral said that during the commission and there was no mass outroar AFAIK. The only guy who has been quoted finding a problem with it either didn't even read the quote or misunderstood it or has been misquoted here. Roosevelt says "I have doubts about the USA going to war if the Philippines was attacked" this guy reads it as "Roosevelt isn't for war if the Philippines is attacked" which seems completely unrelated to the quote and the context of the quote



http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/congress/Vol40.pdf (warning large document)

If someone has the testimony record then perhaps we can see if the committee questioned his statement as being obviously false. If it was believable enough for the committee then I don't understand why everyone thinks it is so far fetched that the president who ran on a campaign of isolationism was worried about the isolationist trends in his country.
 
Sure, so if Roosevelt contradicted the quote, or if you have even anyone else who contradicted it then feel free to show that it was out of character for Roosevelt. The Admiral said that during the commission and there was no mass outroar AFAIK. The only guy who has been quoted finding a problem with it either didn't even read the quote or misunderstood it or has been misquoted here. Roosevelt says "I have doubts about the USA going to war if the Philippines was attacked" this guy reads it as "Roosevelt isn't for war if the Philippines is attacked" which seems completely unrelated to the quote and the context of the quote



http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/congress/Vol40.pdf (warning large document)

If someone has the testimony record then perhaps we can see if the committee questioned his statement as being obviously false. If it was believable enough for the committee then I don't understand why everyone thinks it is so far fetched that the president who ran on a campaign of isolationism was worried about the isolationist trends in his country.
Far fetched? No. However, its second hand nature and possible contradiction from a source of about equal validity means that it is not exactly rock solid when used to question the country's actual willingness to engage in a war with Japan if invaded.

To quote an earlier post of yours:
You use certain,, Roosevelt says doubtful
The question is, first of all, did Roosevelt actually say that in the way that it is implied (that he was doubtful that the country would agree to go to war over the Philippines). He may have. It wouldn't be unreasonable for him to worry about that, particularly if he was under pressure to win an election when his opponents are painting him as a warmonger. But what we have is not a statement from Roosevelt, what we have is a statement of what someone believed Roosevelt to be saying over a year beforehand. Which is, or at least could be, contradicted by the impression of someone else who was present for the same conversation. It does not eliminate its value as a source, but it does reduce its impact.

This quote is the only one I personally have ever seen that supports the claim that the US may have refrained from prosecuting a war against Japan if Japan had invaded the Philippines. And it goes against all other evidence I have seen and my own estimation of geopolitical logic. So it would need to be pretty overwhelming to overcome all of that. It is interesting, and could very well be accurate, but (at least for me) it is not a convincing that this was Roosevelt's established position, much less that it is an accurate representation of the mood of the nation.
 
Indeed, Roosevelt was not some passive figure. He acted upon his beliefs that the USA public was too isolationist and with the aid of Japanese militarism he was able to sell the public on the war he wanted. You simultaneously acknowledge that Roosevelt felt he needed to run saying that he would keep the USA out of war and yet also think that he was lying or misrepresenting things when he said he thought that the USA is isolationist?

I never said that they wouldn't go to war over the Philippines, you're saying I've made an argument that I have never made. Literally all I said was that throwing around the word "certain" is overzealous when we're talking about alternative history. The USA under Roosevelt in December 1941 would very likely go to war if Japan only attacked the Philippines.
(1) FDR was not lying or misrepresenting if he said that the temper of public opinion in 1940 was isolationist or at least in favor of keeping the US out of war But even isolationists would draw the line at attacks on US territory killing large numbers of Americans! If FDR expressed doubts about this in October 1940--and again, we don't know exactly what he said, the extent of doubt he expressed or meant, etc. ( and Leahy who was at the meeting said he was surprised by Richardson's memories about what FDR said about the Philippines) --he was simply wrong. And since there is no record of him saying this on any other occasion , even if he did say it exactly as Richardson recalled, it may simply have been a passing mood.

(2) Some things are so overwhelmingly likely that it is pedantic to say they were not certain. A US declaration of war if the Japanese attacked the Philippines and killed large numbers of American military and civilian personnel in the process is one of them, whatever FDR may have said in October 1940.
 
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Well this is on me for letting you guys quote an admiral out of context. I knew that it made no sense that he switched from "we" to "he"

Here is the complete quote, including the Committee recognising that the admiral misunderstood we as he:

(previous pages as well for context)



The relevant part of course is the Admiral changing his statement to that this statement was in accord with the President's thoughts.

Honestly, I just assumed you guys were making a point in good faith but how are you gonna quote someone saying misunderstanding something when two lines later the Admiral admits he misunderstood (and then goes on to say that the quote accurately portrays Roosevelt, imagine using a guy for a position to argue against it)... This has got to be one of the worst misrepresentations I've been given on this forum
 
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Well this is on me for letting you guys quote an admiral out of context. I knew that it made no sense that he switched from "we" to "he"

Here is the complete quote, including the Committee recognising that the admiral misunderstood we as he:



The relevant part of course is the Admiral changing his statement to that this statement was in accord with the President's thoughts.

Honestly, I just assumed you guys were making a point in good faith but how are you gonna quote someone saying misunderstanding something when two lines later the Admiral admits he misunderstood... This has got to be one of the worst misrepresentations I've been given on this forum
Even after the correction, Leahy clearly does not remember the exact words FDR used about the Philippines. He thinks it was "not in discord" with the way FDR was thinking but "I cannot say that it did not take place or that it did."

But I've had enough of this. If you want to make a religious document of a single statement, whose exact content we do not know, by FDR--who was far from infallible in judging public opinion, especially in a hypothetical case--made in October 1940, long before the Pacific War, you are welcome to do so. If that's your evidence that Congress might not have approved of a declaration of war if the Japanese had invaded what was still American territory and killed large numbers of Americans, I'd say it's pretty thin evidence.
 
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.
If the Japanese were really clever, they could pretend to abuse American PoWs and civilians. That is, arrange sightings that give the impression American prisoners are being murdered, or that American women are being raped. (!!!!!) Let the US work itself into a frothing scream over the "atrocities" and make an all-out premature effort to relieve the Philippines (leave Bataan and Corregidor untaken). Let the US "relief force" advance deep into the Western Pacific. (Throw out some dummy carriers and battleships for the US force to "sink".) Then lower the boom. And while Americans are blaming each other for the defeat, release all the civilian internees and wounded PoWs in perfect health.

To really make this work - invade Malaya, Borneo, etc., but don't touch the Philippines or Guam until the US declares war. Then the entire onus of US casualties is on Roosevelt & Co for getting the US into a foreign war.
 

Geon

Donor
If the Japanese were really clever, they could pretend to abuse American PoWs and civilians. That is, arrange sightings that give the impression American prisoners are being murdered, or that American women are being raped. (!!!!!) Let the US work itself into a frothing scream over the "atrocities" and make an all-out premature effort to relieve the Philippines (leave Bataan and Corregidor untaken). Let the US "relief force" advance deep into the Western Pacific. (Throw out some dummy carriers and battleships for the US force to "sink".) Then lower the boom. And while Americans are blaming each other for the defeat, release all the civilian internees and wounded PoWs in perfect health.

To really make this work - invade Malaya, Borneo, etc., but don't touch the Philippines or Guam until the US declares war. Then the entire onus of US casualties is on Roosevelt & Co for getting the US into a foreign war.
It is a good idea however there are a few sticking points.

  1. Building "dummy" carriers and battleships. How would the Japanese go about this? And given the U.S. had good aerial reconnaissance I should think the U.S.N. would recognize a fake carrier or battleship from a real one.
  2. Pretending to abuse U.S. P.O.W.s would only enrage and galvanize support behind the war effort. The reports of the atrocities inflicted by the Japanese during the Bataan Death March to name only one fueled the hatred the Americans felt for Japanese after Pearl Harbor. News of such atrocities would serve to harden American resolve so even if the American fleet suffered a disastrous mauling the Americans would still be united against a perceived evil enemy.
  3. Invading Malaya, Borneo, and the rest of South East Asia does not necessarily guarantee the U.S. entry into war. Recall what @RMcD94 quoted earlier. FDR was less then willing to start a war to preserve British interests. America First under Charles Lindbergh was over and over stating this was "Britain's War" and we would be fighting to preserve Britain's interests. On the other hand, from Japan's point of view they couldn't leave the Philippines as they were because they feared America would declare war and move to cut off Japanese supply lines to the south. The Japanese had to attack the Philippines, and by extension Pearl Harbor, at the same time they moved south from their point of view.
 
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View attachment 583290

I note the reference in this document to "the Kra Peninsula", which seems rather garbled. From what I've always seen on maps, the strip of land leading south to Singapore is the Malay Peninsula, connected to the mainland by the Isthmus of Kra. But there is a similar reference in the "War warning" issued to US Pacific commands in November 1941.

So a common garble, I guess.
 
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