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Documentary Discovery: Japan’s Armed Services’ Revisions to the Draft Understanding between Japan and the United States, April 1941

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This essay reproduces in its entirety a translated version of a hitherto neglected document from 1941, entitled “Armed Services’ and Foreign Ministry’s Revised Draft, April 21.” The revisions pertain to the so-called “Draft Understanding between Japan and the United States,” a plan for peace in the Pacific which Ambassador Nomura Kichisaburō submitted to U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull on 14 April, and then to Japanese Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro on 17 April. The revisions – or, to be more exact, the scarcity of revisions – suggest that even the Imperial Japanese Army viewed the Draft Understanding with an equanimity that has escaped previous scholarship. In so doing, the reproduced document raises important questions about the gulf separating Japan’s armed services and hardline Foreign Minister Matsuoka Yōsuke.

Affiliations: 1: University of Western Sydney Email:


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