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A Reinvestigation of Japan's Final Memorandum to the United States and the Decoding of Roosevelt's Message to the Emperor, December 1941

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

At the final phase of the negotiations in the fall of 1941, the Japanese government set a deadline of 30 November to reach a modus vivendi with the United States. After the failure of several proposals, on 6 December, Roosevelt sent a telegram directly to the emperor proposing further negotiations. This article draws on the author's extensive publications in Japanese to demonstrate that the Japanese Army intercepted Roosevelt's telegram and secretly decoded it before it reached the emperor and the Foreign Ministry had to amend the Memorandum to preclude further negotiation. The Army and the Foreign Ministry, which succumbed to the Army, further interfered with the transmission of the Final Memorandum, and confused the Japanese embassy's handling. Its delivery was made after the commencement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Foreign Minister Tōgō, facing prosecution in 1945, falsely shifted blame for the delay to the embassy in Washington, and the Foreign Ministry has released misleading documents to strengthen that accusation.


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