Hideki Tojo’s Prison Diary
Published here for the first time in English is the postwar prison “diary” of Japanese General and Premier Hideki Tojo.
After an outstanding army career and service as War Minister, Tojo served as Prime Minister from October 1941 to July 1944 — perhaps the most critical period in his country’s history. A few weeks after Japan’s surrender in August 1945, Tojo was arrested by American occupation forces and then put on trial for alleged war crimes. By all accounts, he conducted himself with dignity and composure during the proceedings. After being sentenced to death, he was executed in December 1948.
Written while in prison, this “diary” consists of several essays, a reconstructed daily log of the critical period of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, and answers to anticipated prosecution questions.
Composed in part as an aid in trial proceedings, and in partas an explanation for posterity, this memoir/justification by a central figure of twentieth century history is a valuable historical document. Unknown to the world for more than forty years, these papers were first published in 1991 by historian Sanae Sato in the August and September issues of the Japanese monthly magazine Hoseki.
This translation was jointly prepared by General Hideo Miki, retired professor of Japan’s National Defense Academy, and Henry Symington, an American specialist of Japanese economic and social affairs. This material has been very slightly edited, and clarifying information has been added in brackets.
I. Events Leading to the First Greater East Asian Outbreak
Immediately before the beginning of the Great East Asian war [which commenced on December 7, 1941], Japan was still engaged in the unfortunate Sino-Japanese War, which had already gone on for more than four years. Throughout that period, Japan had made honest efforts to keep the destruction of war from spreading and, based on the belief that all nations of the world should find their places, had followed a policy designed to restore an expeditious peace between Japan and China. Japan was ensuring the stability of East Asia while contributing to world peace. Nevertheless, China was unfortunately unable to understand Japan’s real position, and it is greatly to be regretted that the Sino-Japanese War became one of long duration.
Clearly, this Sino-Japanese War of more than four years was a considerable burden on Japan’s national power and an obstacle to the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. From the point of the view of the nation’s power, it was obvious that while we were fighting the Sino-Japanese war, every effort was to be made to avoid adding to our enemies and opening additional fronts. Naturally, this was the view of those who then held positions of responsibility.
In the past, the theory had been: Advance towards the north while defending the south, or advance to the south while defending the north. However, as the Sino-Japanese War dragged on, the only objectives that bore consideration were: 1) a swift peace between Japan and China; 2) the maintenance of international peace; and 3) the restoration of national power.
It was for this reason that Japan: 1) attempted to establish peace with China through negotiations, sometimes through American mediation; 2) strengthened the Russo-Japanese Neutrality Treaty [April 1941] in the hope of avoiding war with the Soviet Union; and 3) tried as much as possible to use diplomatic means to respond to signs that relations with the United States were worsening, even though in so doing it was necessary for Japan to endure things that were unendurable.
Despite Japan’s desires and efforts, unfortunate differences in the ways that Japan, England, the United States, and China understood circumstances, together with misunderstandings of attitudes, made it impossible for the parties to agree. Up until the very end, these were important reasons for the outbreak of war, and from Japan’s point of view, this is a matter of great regret.
Thus, England and the United States supported the Chungking [Chinese] government [of Chiang Kai-Shek] in every way, obstructed the peace between Japan and China that Japan desired, and thwarted Japan’s efforts towards East Asian stability. During this period, in July 1939, the United States suddenly gave notice of the abrogation of the treaty of commerce [signed in 1911, its termination restricted the importation of essential raw materials] thereby threatening the existence of the Japanese people. At present, looking back coolly upon the past, I think that both nations have much to reflect upon.
1. Both China and Japan should have emptied their hearts of ill-will, calmly explained their true positions to each other, and reflecting deeply on the fact that they were the corner stones of stability in East Asia, should have more bravely followed the path of direct peace negotiations.
2. Likewise, in dealing with the China problem, the British and American side, which had particularly strong interests in China, should have based its judgments about the origins of the problem on direct observation of the actual circumstances at the time. Moreover, both sides should have considered the point of view and survival of the one billion people of East Asia, who were awakening to world development. Rather than be trapped in the narrow-minded maintenance of old power structures, it was necessary that both sides deliberate together, work harmoniously, and take a broader view of mutual prosperity, cooperation, and the establishment of stability in East Asia.
Note 1. As for the China Incident [the alleged attack by Chinese troops at the Marco Polo bridge near Peking on July 7, 1941, which triggered the Sino-Japanese War] and the problem of whether or not it was possible for Japanese forces to withdraw from China, before concluding for formalist reasons that this was a simple invasion, it is necessary to consider the deeper origins: the exclusion and insult of Japan throughout the entire Chinese region, boycotts of Japanese goods, the infringement of rights and revenues, and violence against resident Japanese. The [Western] powers have had similar experiences with China, such as the exclusion of foreigners in 1899 and the anti-Christian Boxer Rebellion [1899 -1901].
Note 2. All peoples are created by God and have the same rights and freedoms to survive on earth together according to law. It goes without saying that when survival is threatened, struggles erupt between peoples, and unfortunate wars between nations result. Furthermore, in the period when they awoke to world development, the one billion people of East Asia had greater demands to make with respect to their survival because of economic development and unusual increases in population. I believe that it is in East Asia, where these demands must be met.
Of course, the peoples of East Asia have a natural obligation to be grateful for the sacrifice and efforts of the European powers and America in leading the peoples of East Asia to their present circumstances, and they should respect the existing rights and privileges of those powers. The stability of East Asia can be hoped for only if both sides understand and appreciate the other’s position and have the magnanimity to adjust to circumstances. Moreover, this is part of the obligation towards East Asia that the great powers have as part of their fundamental responsibility for ensuring world peace.
3. With respect to the above and considering the case of Japan, recourse to arms has a profound relation to national policy and bears the following considerations: before resorting to military action, it should be strongly deterred at the appropriate time by diplomatic means if necessary. Unnecessary escalation is to be prevented by diplomatic power, and all efforts should be made to keep operations from interfering with policy.
(Explanation 1) On this matter, in the Japanese system [of the 1930s and 1940s] there are many aspects that relate to the independence of the high command. Actions of the high command are not, as in other nations, included in the national government, but are outside and independent of the nation’s constitutional government, and it is natural that they should brook no interference. Consequently, these matters are different from those on which the Interior Minister assists the Emperor. In actions relating to the high command, the Chiefs of Staff of the Imperial General Headquarters, that is to say, the Army Chief of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations, have a responsibility that is separate from that of the cabinet, and they take independent responsibility for the assistance they provide the Emperor. According to our current system, in matters pertaining to both sides, this is the role of the Army and Navy ministers.
Consequently, once operations have begun, they are largely conducted according to the independent will of the high command. Frequently, the national government finds that it has no choice but to make the best of things or simply submit in silence. In time of war, especially, these conditions become even more extreme because the Imperial General Headquarters has primary control over conduct of the war, and its word carries much weight.
Even military ministers have no more than a certain amount of control. It is customary that they have the right and the power to participate, from a political and military point of view, in the planning of actual operations.
It is obvious that in purely military matters, it is absolutely necessary that operations be energetically executed, and that military objectives be achieved quickly without any political restrictions. However, unanticipated ill results may ensue when there are delicate policy considerations or when there is an important diplomatic connection. This is to be expected in contemporary warfare because it is often the case that the success or failure of operations is instantly reflected in world conditions.
It is for this reason that relations between the national government and the [military] high command must be harmonized from time to time. This is something to be much reflected upon in the future. In fact, past cabinets have set up regular meetings with the high command and tried to harmonize relations, but such bodies had no formal responsibilities (under the current constitution, each minister counsels and assists the Emperor individually, so organizations of this kind cannot be set up). Furthermore, they were not actually involved in the conduct of operations so their effect was not great. In later years, they were formalized as Meetings of Chief Executives [Liaison Conference], but that probably did not make much difference. This is suggested by the fact that although at that time the Prime Minister attended meetings at the Imperial General Headquarters, it is my recollection that he was not to be involved in the conduct of operations.
(Explanation 2) From around the time of the February 26 incident of 1936 [when an insurgent group of army officers attempted a coup in Tokyo], there appeared in the military trends towards subordinate policy-making (subordinates would ignore the wishes of their superiors) and staff-level control of government (staff officers would seize control, ignoring the ministers and director-generals). These trends were particularly apparent in the army. In that manner, there was a tendency for decisions, entirely contrary to national policy or to top military policy, to be made according to the limited understanding of lower-ranking men, and this, without the knowledge of their superiors. This, too, hindered the smooth operation of national government.
Half of the reason for this was shortcomings in the instruction on staff officer attitude at the War College and deterioration within the military of the psychological and formal feeling of subordination and assistance to superiors. There remains, however, the fact that there had been a loss of ardor and enthusiasm in the spirit of command at the higher levels. There was an absence of strong leadership and initiative, and a tendency to think that given the choice, the best course of action was to do nothing.
After I became Army Minister [in July 1940], His Majesty [the Emperor] told me what he had said to the Army Minister at that time, General Terauchi, immediately after the February 26 incident, namely, that His Majesty was very worried about these matters. After becoming minister, I tried to make improvements. As it happened, at the time troops were dispatched to French Indochina, misbehavior of that kind was detected and those involved — from top to bottom — were firmly disciplined. Later, I worked from time to time to counter those tendencies, but left office before improvements were complete.
As is the case with civilian bureaucrats, the reasons for the abuses committed by lower-ranking bureaucrats are different, but they are the source of the sclerotic manner in which Japan executes policy.
(Explanation 3) For a long time, we have heard about military factions. Also, we have heard for a long time that the armed forces were high-handed, and recently this idea has been particularly widespread. There were many things in the past about which the military should reappraise its own behavior.
Nevertheless, there is something that must be said about military factions. [A reference to the so-called “Control” and “Imperial Way” factions within the Japanese military.]
Today, it is an error to think that there are factions in the military. A soldier holds his rank for life, but his authority begins only when his position is conferred upon him by the Emperor. With this authority comes the right to influence the high command or, according to his position, the execution of government policy. However, as soon as a man leaves the service, even if he had been a general, his authority ceases and he no longer has the power even to adjust the rank of a second lieutenant. If such power were to continue, that would mean the creation within the military of an individual faction, and it would be impermissible. This has always been the case in Japan, and explains why there are no factions in the military.
As for whether or not the military has been high-handed, it is not as though there are no reasons for thinking this is so. This is something that requires self-examination.
However, I think it possible that much of the public criticism about high-handedness arose from the power of execution born of the command/obedience relationship and strength that come from the military’s organization, especially from the importance placed on timing that arises from the requirements of war. I believe that this is what produced the consequences of Explanations 1 and 2 noted above, that is to say, those things that must be acknowledged as highhandedness and reflected upon as such.
4. Later, as operations against China followed natural operational exigencies, the front was gradually expanded towards the south. In order to put a quick end to the Sino-Japanese War, it was necessary first to strike a mortal blow against the Chungking forces [of Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek]. For this reason, it was necessary to strengthen the blockade of the Southeast China coast and to establish a large, new operations route deep into the South.
5. At about that time, in order for Japan to sustain its own people, and because of the necessity of maintaining internal production, and in order to prosecute the Sino-Japanese War, we were faced with the necessity of obtaining such things as rice and oil from the southern islands, including French and Dutch Indochina. Particularly at the time when the United States broke off commercial relations with Japan, and the routes that depended on the United States were cut, the survival of Japan was closely connected to whether or not peaceful commerce would be possible with these southern areas. Consequently, Japan despatched ambassadors and conducted negotiations with these areas, but since they already had hostile feelings, nothing could be smoothly established.
Furthermore, it had been clearly established by intelligence that French Indochina was an important, hidden supply route for [the Chinese forces headquartered in] Chungking. Consequently, it was necessary to cut this off, as part of the strengthening of our China operations. At the time, given the conditions in Europe, France was a friendly nation with a duty to cooperate with Japan. Therefore, the peaceful occupation of Indochina (September 1940) was carried out with the understanding of France. Thus, given the uncertainties in the southern Pacific, and the necessity of putting a quick end to the Sino-Japanese War and establishing the cooperative relations necessary for the survival of both nations, a portion of our military was gradually transferred to southern French Indochina.
However, the British-American side called this a threat to their own territories, and in July 1941, together with Holland, ordered the freezing of assets and, in effect, commenced an economic blockade.
This was a grave threat to the existence of Japan. In addition to this, the British-American side concentrated troops in Hawaii, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaya, and reinforced their defenses. In this way, economic pressure was increased just as the circle around Japan was tightened, and conditions arose that severely threatened the existence of Japan.
(Note) The reasons for the occupation of French Indochina are as explained above, and in outline they were as follows:
(1) To cut the enemy’s supply lines, to make it easier to launch aerial attacks, and to finalize the defenses of French Indochina. This was done on the basis of a mutual defense pact.
(2) Because commercial relations were smooth, trade was facilitated and relations of mutual benefit were established.
The reasons for the occupation of southern French Indochina were essentially the same. However, conditions in the Pacific had worsened, and the need to end the Sino-Japanese War was felt more keenly than ever, and the conditions outlined above were more severe.
One of the reasons that Japan prepared for a passive national defense was the worsening conditions in the Pacific, but this was not the main reason.
6. Since conditions were deteriorating,it was necessary to resolve them quickly. It was proposed that the Prime Minister of the time [Konoe Fumimaro] meet directly with the President [of the United States] so that both could express their feelings and debate the general problems of the Pacific that had arisen between the two nations, so as to resolve these dangerous circumstances by political means. However, even though the United States agreed to this proposal in theory, they claimed that since it was an important matter, they preferred that such a meeting take place after differences of opinion had been resolved. Ultimately there was no such meeting, which was very unfortunate. The Japanese government had thought that a meeting would take place, and actually selected an entourage and prepared a ship.
7. The hope for a peaceful solution by means of a summit meeting thus disappeared, but Japan, wishing to reach a solution through diplomatic means, made several later proposals in response to the American position. However, the United States held firm to its initial position and would concede nothing.
8. Around November 20th , conditions were on the verge of deteriorating even further. In order to avoid a rupture of diplomatic relations, the government resisted strong pressures from the high command and made a proposal containing a number of concessions. As I recall, the proposals were the following:
(1) Neither nation will send military forces to the southern Pacific or to any part of South East Asia other than French Indochina. (2) Should peace be established between Japan and China or in the Pacific region, all Japanese troops in French Indochina will be withdrawn. (3) If this agreement is concluded, all Japanese troops in southern French Indochina will be rotated to the north. (4) Commercial relations will be restored to their former state. Assurances will be given so that necessary materials can be obtained.
9. The United States did not agree to these proposals. Furthermore, it took back what it had previously said about acting as an intermediary in Sino-Japanese peace-making and refused to perform this service.
In any case, if one looks at the circumstances immediately before the outbreak of the Great East Asian War from a Japanese point of view, one notes that the China Incident had continued for more than four years without solution. Efforts had been made to resolve the situation by negotiations between Japan and the United States, but this had failed. Furthermore, in accordance with the requirements of operations, the theater of action of the Sino-Japanese War had moved ever more deeply towards the Southwest and international relations continued to deteriorate.
During this period, Japan’s peaceful commercial relations were successively obstructed, primarily by the American rupture of commercial relations, and this was a grave threat to the survival of Japan. In particular, the economic blockade by the various powers, led by the United States, inflicted a mortal blow to the survival of Japan.
In connection with these multiple economic pressures, the ABCD [American-British-Chinese-Dutch] encirclement of Japan only drew tighter, and defenses in Hawaii, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaya were strengthened. The main American naval forces were shifted to the Pacific region and an American admiral made a strong declaration to the effect that if war were to break out between Japan and the United States, the Japanese navy could be sunk in a matter of weeks. Further, the British Prime Minister [Churchill] strongly declared his nation’s intention to join the fight on the side of the United States within 24 hours should war break out between Japan and the United States. Japan therefore faced considerable military threats as well.
Japan attempted to circumvent these dangerous circumstances by diplomatic negotiation, and though Japan heaped concession upon concession, in the hope of finding a solution through mutual compromise, there was no progress because the United States would not retreat from its original position. Finally, in the end, the United States repeated demands that, under the circumstances, Japan could not accept: complete withdrawal of troops from China, repudiation of the Nanking government [formed under Japanese auspices and headed by Wang Ching-Wei, previously an important Chinese Nationalist leader], withdrawal from the Tripartite Pact [signed by Germany, Italy and Japan on September 27, 1940]. At this point, Japan lost all hope of reaching a resolution through diplomatic negotiation.
Since events had progressed as they had, it became clear that to continue in this manner was to lead the nation to disaster. With options thus foreclosed, in order to protect and defend the nation and clear the obstacles that stood in its path, a decisive appeal to arms was made.
(Explanation) War was decided upon at the Imperial Conference on December 1, 1941, and the shift to real operations was made at this point. However, even during the preparations for action, we laid our plans in such a manner that should there be progress through diplomatic negotiation, we would be well prepared to cancel operations at the latest moment that communication technology would have permitted.
II. Concerning the Three Final Problems in Japanese-American Negotiations
1. The demand that Japanese troops be withdrawn completely from China.
The causes of the China Incident were the exclusion and insult of Japan throughout China, the exclusion of Japanese goods, the persecution of Japanese residents in China, and the illegal violation of Japanese rights. As Japan had declared on such occasions, it was thought that the stability of East Asia depended on the close, mutual assistance and cooperation between China and Japan. That Japanese troops were stationed in China at the time was the result of unfortunate incidents and not something that Japan had originally desired. Consequently, there would have been no objection to the total withdrawal of troops should the causes be eliminated, and even with respect to the New China-Japan Treaty [March 30, 1940], discussions were pursued in this fashion. However, this required the elimination of those causes and would have been possible only on the basis of a guarantee to that effect.
To withdraw troops without having obtained such guarantees would be only to repeat what had happened before (the troop withdrawal of 1932 after the Shanghai Incident), and would have caused unhappiness not only to Japan and China but would not have permitted the anticipation of stability in East Asia. On the British-American side the causes were seen entirely to be a Japanese policy of invasion, and little thought was given to actual circumstances. The Japanese policy, as was made clear at the time, was a non-expansionist policy, and it was not carried out as a matter of national intent.
Looking back on that period from the present, there is some cause for self-examination. Even though the Sino-Japanese war was called a non-expansionist policy, it is clear that over a long period events expanded to a wide area. However, this was not the will of the nation but a result of the exigencies of operations, combined with the inability of a weak government to prevent it. The reasons for the latter lie in Japan’s internal systems and traditions.
Whether the fundamental cause was China’s illegal activities or Japan’s invasion may be something of a chicken-and-egg question. The reason was the failure of both Japan and China to understand each other and the inability of America and the European powers to sympathize, without prejudice, with the peoples of East Asia.
2. Repudiation of the Nanking government.
The establishment of a national [Chinese] government[based in Nanking] with Wang Ching-wei as Premier was primarily a domestic question for the Republic of China. Of course, it must be conceded that it was born of the stimulus of Japanese operations, but this is only a secondary reason and not the real reason. As opposed to the Chungking government, which continued to exclude, insult and make war on Japan, the Wang Ching-wei government made overall peace its objective, and attempted to establish permanent peace in East Asia by means of Sino-Japanese mutual assistance. Therefore it was natural that Japan recognize this government and feel friendly towards it.
(Note) When a new government is formed in any country, it is normal to recognize it if it is in harmony with one’s own government, and to show it good intentions. The [Western] powers have done the same in the course of the current war. However, to repudiate a government less than one year after having recognized it would cause the world to doubt a nation’s faith, and therefore it could not be done.
The Nanking government essentially wished for overall peace in China. Consequently, it was thought that when overall peace had been achieved, questions about it would be resolved as a domestic matter. For that, it was necessary that peace be concluded between Japan and China through termination of the Sino-Japanese War. However, even with Japanese assistance, prospects were uncertain, so it was impossible to resolve questions about the Nanking government.
3. The problem of repudiating the Tripartite Pact
The Americans demanded that, “the governments of both parties agree not to interpret any agreements concluded with third countries in a way that contradicts the purpose of this agreement, which is the maintenance of peace in the Pacific region.” This clearly required that Japan breach the Tripartite Pact and that, consequently, was the same as requiring that Japan renounce the alliance.
Essentially, the reason for concludingthe Tripartite Pact was the fact that as a result of the Washington Conference [on naval armaments, in 1922], the Anglo-Japanese Alliance had been annulled, and world circumstances were such that Japan had withdrawn from the League of Nations [announced in 1933, effective in 1935] because the League would not recognize Japan’s claims. In order to end its isolation, alliance was sought with Germany and Italy, which found themselves in much the same circumstances. Furthermore, it was expected that German power could be used to help in a solution to the China problem. However, if Japan were to accede to an American demand of this kind, it would indicate to the world the untrustworthiness of Japan. In the past, Japan fulfilled the terms of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and at the request of Britain, advanced all the way into the Mediterranean. As is clear from the fact that today, the souls of those fallen [Japanese] soldiers are still on the island of Malta, I believe the world will recognize that Japan is faithful to alliances. [A Japanese destroyer was sunk during the First World War while on escort duty in the Mediterranean, in fulfillment of Japan’s obligations to England under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.] Therefore, Japan could hardly take, for purposes of momentary gain, measures that would cause it permanently to lose the faith of the world.
III. Circumstances Around the Time Of the Resignation of the Third Konoe Cabinet
1. My recollection is that it was at a time when, in accordance with the Imperial Policy Execution Outline adopted at the Imperial Conference of September 6, 1941, the point had been reached when troops were moved into Southern French Indochina, and the situation had become tense. It was something that had been determined as necessary in order to carry out national policy and, as I recall, we were to be prepared both for war and for peace.
2. The US-Japan summit that Prime Minister Konoe had hoped for was rejected by the American side and did not take place. [The summit proposal was made on August 8.]
There was a difference of opinion between Foreign Minister Toyoda and myself at a cabinet meeting around the 14th or 15th of October. I recall that the points of disagreement were as follows:
(1) My opinion was that, as could be seen from a review of the US-Japan negotiations, Japan had striven for a solution by means of repeated concessions but the United States had stuck firmly to its initial positions and would make no concessions.
(2) U.S. approval could not be obtained for a diplomatic solution by means of the US-Japan summit that the Prime Minister had hoped for. Furthermore, military and economic pressures were being stepped up day by day.
Therefore, if one were to consider that there was virtually no possibility of success through the US-Japan negotiations, the military and economic pressures would only force Japan into further crisis if time were allowed to pass in vain. It was my position that we must recognize that it was impossible to meet Japan’s objectives as decided at the Imperial Conference, and that the time had come to make war on the United States (at the Imperial Conference [of September 6] the start of operations had been set for mid-October). At the time, the high command of the army advocated this (starting operations in mid-October).
3. As opposed to this, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister took the position that the obstacle to the negotiations was the withdrawal of Japanese troops from China, and that if concessions were made on this point, an agreement might not be impossible. As for troop withdrawal, that was a matter of great interest to the army, which was then conducting operations. There were no objections to withdrawal as such. However, the reasons for the China Incident [the alleged attack by Chinese troops at the Marco Polo Bridge near Peking on July 7, 1937] had been the insults to Japan, and the anti-Japanese and illegal acts that had occurred in various parts of China. Therefore, if there was not to be a guarantee that those causes would be eliminated, the result would simply be a repetition of the same incidents. Furthermore, a withdrawal that did not achieve its purpose would demoralize the Japanese army to no avail, and it was feared that it would confirm the American claim that the China Incident was provoked by a Japanese invasion. This was something to which the army could not agree.
At the time, both the high command and the army in the field were firm on this from top to bottom; a withdrawal without guarantees was unthinkable.
Thus, because of this difference of opinion, the cabinet resigned en masse. I might add that I had nothing whatsoever to do with Prime Minister Konoe’s memorandum to the throne on the resignation of his cabinet.
4. On October 18, 1941, I suddenly received a mandate from His Majesty to form a new cabinet. This was completely unexpected, and when I was summoned to the Imperial Palace I thought I would be questioned on the army’s point of view. I took with me documents related only to this.
(1) With respect to the formation of a cabinet, I received an Imperial mandate to return to blank paper [that is, with a free hand to direct national policy] and to make no missteps in policy. Therefore,considering that the national leadership responsibilities of the Prime Minister and Army Minister are different from each other, I was unswayed by the usual claims of the army. Though there were demands that negotiations be cut off and war begun, I was unmoved by them, arguing that so long as there was the slightest hope of a negotiated breakthrough, efforts should be continued.
Since there was no desire on the part of the high command for a troop withdrawal from China, it was determined to seek a breakthrough in negotiations on the importanat matter that had caused a worsening of conditions, namely, the movement of Japanese troops into French Indochina. Even about this, there was considerable unhappiness in the high command.
IV. Various Problems To Which The Pearl Harbor Attack is Central
It is natural that I should bear entire responsibility for the war in general, and, needless to say, I am prepared to do so. Consequently, now that the war has been lost, it is presumably necessary that I be judged so that the circumstances of the time can be clarified and the future peace of the world be assured. Therefore, with respect to my trial, it is my intention to speak frankly, according to my recollection, even though when the vanquished stands before the victor, who has over him the power of life and death, he may be apt to toady and flatter. I mean to pay considerable attention to this in my actions, and say to the end that what is true is true and what is false is false. To shade one’s words in flattery to the point of untruthfulness would falsify the trial and do incalculable harm to the nation, and great care must be taken to avoid this.
As it happens, what has been called the speech of Fleet Admiral Nagano [Chief of the Naval Staff] with respect to the Pearl Harbor attack, was publicized on October 27th. Upon reading it, errors can be found in important matters, and I shall here write the true facts for the benefit of future generations.
1. At the Imperial Conference on December 1, it was decided to make war against England and the United States. How the procedures for the commencement of hostilities were to be carried out was deliberated upon at the Liaison Conference [a joint meeting of civilian and military personnel] where the agenda of the Imperial Conference was discussed. It was decided to proceed according to international treaty and confirm the propriety of those actions while at the same time avoiding a too-early disclosure of our operations. Ambassador Nomura was to deliver a note by hand to the U.S. State Department an hour and a half ahead of time, and the text, as well as the time of domestic notification [within Japan] were to be the responsibilities of the high command and of the foreign ministry. Therefore, I have thought to this day that the notification that Japan was breaking off diplomatic relations and was shifting to the unfettered conduct of its affairs [by declaring war] should have been under the responsibility of the Foreign Minister, communicated without fail. Of course, if there was failure in this matter, I have no argument with the view that, as Prime Minister, the responsibility is mine.
The draft of the final rupture of diplomatic relations was written under the responsibility of the Foreign Minister of the time, and its contents were not reported to the Cabinet.
2. The Imperial Rescript on war, as can be seen from its first page, is directed primarily to the Japanese people. In order that this be made public as soon as possible after the commencement of war, approval from the Privy Council was obtained on the morning of the 9th.
Though this was a domestic matter, if these procedures had been followed in advance, it might have resulted in a too-early disclosure of operations.
In any case, the way the Imperial Rescript was handled was not by any means intended as a means of concealing the attack on Pearl Harbor. On this matter, according to Fleet Admiral Nagano, it was understood that the declaration of war was to be made before the start of the Pearl Harbor attack, before three in the morning, but this is a grave mistake. That is something that the government would not have known about. Three in the morning would mean getting Privy Seal approval in the middle of the night on Sunday, and the government would not have agreed to something so out of keeping with Japanese custom. Fleet Admiral Nagano has probably confused this with the final official note [to the Americans]. It is most unbecoming that the Fleet Admiral should give the world an impression that is not only mistaken but suggests that Japan deliberately delayed the declaration of war.
When reflecting upon it today, that the Pearl Harbor attack should have succeeded in achieving surprise seems a blessing from Heaven. It was clear that a great American fleet had been concentrated in Pearl Harbor, and we supposed that the state of alert would be very high. At the same time, since we were approaching with a great fleet of our own, there were grave doubts as to success. It is intolerable to think that on that occasion the government did something incorrect, and we had absolutely no intention of doing so.
V. The Manchurian Incident And International Relations
1. After the first Great European War [of 1914-1918], our country made, as the basis of its foreign policy, the support of international understanding and the development of good relations with the powers.
2. At that time, in China, internal disorders had continued ever since the establishment of the Republic of China [in 1912]. Regional war lords proliferated and the internal disorders due to the struggle between the northern and southern governments did not cease. Even after the beginning of the Showa era  and the establishment of the Nationalist government in Nanking with Chiang Kai-shek as Premier, its power was not sufficient to ensure an orderly nation.
3. After the Nine Power Treaty [of 1922] was concluded [at the Washington Conference], American East Asian policy became more vigorous, and at the same time the Communist movement gained strength on the Chinese mainland. International relations, especially concerning Manchuria and Mongolia, became more complex and tense.
4. Despite this situation, the Nationalist government as well as the [Chinese] war lords were taken in by the East Asian policies of such countries as Britain and the United States, and they did not understand our own spirit of justice and friendship. Furthermore, seeing that public opinion in our country was confused, that the political situation was unstable, and that our foreign policy appeared to be unstable, they insulted our nation, took policies opposed to Japan, and continued on a national scale with their resistance to Japan, with such efforts as the boycott of Japanese products.
5. Especially in Manchuria, where our special privileges had been secured, such war lords as Chang Tso-lin, who held real power in the region, failed to understand the true significance of the Russo-Japanese War, and lost their understanding and gratitude of what our country had done on the continent on behalf of the stability of East Asia. They called for the recovery of Port Arthur and Dairen, violated our interests, and took an arrogant attitude. After Chang Tso-lin died [in 1928, in an explosion attributed to Japanese plotters] and the era of his son, Chang Hsueh-ling began, outrageous circumstances only worsened.
(1) Plans were undertaken, with American finance, to build a new railroad that would encircle our South Manchurian Railway.
(2) Farmers from the Korean peninsula were persecuted and attempts were made to expel them. Treaties were spurned, and our interests were destroyed. Further, our nation’s existence was threatened, and there were continuous plots to disturb the peace of East Asia. Our government was patient, sometimes negotiating, sometimes trying to set up agreements. In return, China showed no sincerity whatsoever, and thus arose a mountain of unsolved problems, both great and small.
6. On the night of September 18, 1931, Chinese [?] troops occupying Mukden blew up the South Manchuria Railway, and that became the Manchurian Incident.
On March 1st, 1932, [the state of] Manchukuo was established [in northern China], and this fact was proclaimed both domestically and to the world. That proclamation meant that a peaceful and happy world was to be built by means of the rule of virtue, that peoples would cooperate and contribute to the peace of the East.
On September 15, 1932, its independence was approved, and the Protocol between Japan and Manchukuo was signed.
PART 2 — Hideki Tojo’s Log
0900-1000 [hours] Extraordinary cabinet meeting (decision to go to war with U.S., Britain, Holland)
1130 — Imperial appointment ceremony [a ceremony in which the Emperor directly appoints someone to a position — not mentioned who was appointed to what] (discussion with Lord Kido [Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal] about the Imperial Conference)
1400 — Imperial Conference (with various officials as well as the participants of the Liaison Conference) Subject: Opening of war with U.S., Britain, Holland (EX 588) Minister explanation (EX2955, DD1892, Record 252-2P) In attendance: Summarized and abbreviated
1630 — Discussion with Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal aboutthe Imperial Rescript on War [the official war proclamation].
Evening — Official Conference with Foreign Minister
Official signature as Prime Minister
1. From 1000 throughout the morning — cabinet meeting
2. 1330 — private meeting with His Majesty (Hatta to be named Minister of Railroads, Ino to be named Minister of Agriculture)
3. 1500 — Imperial installation ceremony for Hatta andIno.
1. From 1000 Liaison Conference, throughout the morning,at the palace. Afternoon — funeral of Princess Kaya.
1. Morning — Privy Council — Foreign Minister Togo, private
2. From 1400 Liaison Conference
3. 1600 — Foreign Minister Togo, private meeting with his majesty
Deliberations at the Liaison Conference of Dec. 4:
1. How to handle Manchukuo with respect to the opening of hostilities
2. How to handle Holland
3. The final notice to the United States
The text was to be the responsibility of the Foreign Minister. It was agreed that notice was to be given before the start of operations, and details were to be worked out between the Foreign Minister, the Army Chief of Staff,and the Chief of Naval Operations.
Dec. 5 (Fri.) Sunny.
Official visit to Imperial War College. Luncheon with Emperor at the Imperial Army Headquarters
1630 — Report to Emperor on what was to be brought upin Cabinet meeting. Discussion with the Lord Keeper Privy Seal about the Imperial Rescript on War (Article 6).
Dec. 6 (Sat.) Cloudy, later sunny
1000 — Liaison Conference at the Palace
1130 — Discussion with Lord Kido, Keeper of the Privy Seal, about Imperial Rescript on War
1500-1750 Liaison Conference 1) On negotiations with Germany 2) On instructions on when to begin negotiations with Thailand 3) On when to deliver the notice to the United States. Deliver by hand on the 7th at 3 a.m. (Japan time) 4) How to deal with the Nationalist government with respect to the opening of hostilities 5) Decision about the Imperial Rescript on War 6) Planning for the events of Dec. 8.
Dec. 7 (Sun.) Sunny
1100 — Consultation with Emperor. Discussion with Secretary of the Cabinet Hoshino, and Kido, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, about commencement of hostilities against US, Britain, and Holland.
Dec. 8 (Mon.) Sunny
0100 — Visit from Foreign Minister Togo
0430 — Report came of the success of the Pearl Harbor attack
0600 — Broadcast about entry into war
0715 — Cabinet meeting
0730 — Meeting of the Privy Council, Consultation with Emperor
1000 — End of Privy Council Meeting. Cabinet meeting (East wing of palace, Room 1)
1140 — Presentation of the Imperial Rescript on War
1200 — Broadcast of the Imperial Rescript on War
1300 — Central cooperation meeting of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association
1400 — Army and Navy are given written orders addressed to them directly by the Emperor. Addresses [by Tojo] to the Army Ministry and the Interior Ministry. Paid reverence at Meiji Shrine and Yasukuni Shrine [to Japanese war dead].
1730 — Taped broadcast
1800 — Liaison Conference
The Imperial Conference of December First
Outline of explanations made by Prime Minister Tojo
1. Acting in accordance with the decisions arrived at during the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, the army and navy worked to complete their preparations while, at the same time, the government made every effort to adjust diplomatic relations with the United States. However, the latter effort resulted in failure and it is clear that Japan’s claims cannot be met by diplomatic means.
2. We have entered a state that can no longer be tolerated, neither from the point of view of our nation’s power nor from an operational point of view. At the same time operational demands can no longer brook delays.
3. At this point, in order to resolve the current crisis, andin order to effect the self-preservation and self-defense of the nation, Japan has no choice but to make war upon the US, Britain, and Holland.
4. The China Incident has already continued for more than four years, and henceforth we are about to enter another great war. I deeply regret that His Highness' heart be inflicted with such a concern.
5. The morale of the officers and men of the army and navy is very high, the spirit of the nation is firm, and the people are prepared to act as one. With a spirit willing to face death, I have no doubt that they will triumph over every difficulty.
6. I seek your [the Emperor's] consideration of these matters.
Explanation by the Foreign Minister 'Shigenori Togo'
1. Explanation of the progress of US-Japan negotiations. Although over a period of seven months our nation has offered many compromises, they have held to their original position and will concede nothing.
2. The Japan policy of the United States hinders the establishment of a new order in East Asia — which has been our unwavering policy from the beginning.
3. If we were to accede to American demands, our international stature would sink even lower than it was before the Manchurian Incident, and our existence might be imperiled.
4. Even if we continue negotiations further, there is virtually no possibility of our claims being met.
Explanation by the Chief of Naval Operations, representing the Combined Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Navy.
1. We have continued to prepare for operations.As soon as the order to commence operations should be given, we are prepared swiftly to commence operations according to plan.
2. The US, Britain, and Holland have strengthened their preparations for war, but I am convinced that operations can be carried out according to plans that are already established.
3. With respect to the Soviet Union, our diplomacy is coupled with a state of high alert, but at present this does not appear to be a matter of great concern.
4. The martial spirit is high in both officers and men, and the spirit burns within them to serve the nation even unto death. Should orders come, they are eager to do their duty bravely.
Explanation by Interior Minister Tojo
Concerning such things as changes in public opinion,the state of domestic control, the protection of foreigners and foreign diplomats, and special security forces. Efforts will be made so that the various policies for handling emergencies can be carried out without mishap.
Explanation by the Finance Minister
1. So long as the necessary materials, facilities,and skilled labor are available, our nation can be financially self sufficient.
2. Even if Japan issues military or other currency with which to secure labor and materials overseas, it will be difficult to maintain the value of such currency. We will attempt to establish a policy of local self sufficiency [for Japanese troops stationed abroad] and we will limit the despatch of materials overseas to the least amount necessary to maintain local security and to meet the needs of local labor. We must not be overly concerned about such things as a deterioration in the value of local currency, and the turmoil in the local economy that would result.
Explanation by the Agriculture Minister
We must establish measures to bolster self-sufficiency in food stuffs, and develop a coordinated food policy for Japan, Manchuria, and China. We must make plans for an increase in livestock production and fish catches. If thoroughly carried out, these policies can probably ensure the minimum necessary food supply for the people for an extended period.
Main points of questions by Chairman of the PrivyCouncil Hara.
1. Will the current strengthening of the enemy'smilitary preparations be an obstacle to our operations?
(Answer) Chief of Naval Operations: The United States has its forces in a proportion of four in the Atlantic and six in the Pacific. However, it is the British who are currently maneuvering [in a way to threaten us], though they will have no effect on our operations.
2. What tendency is seen in Thailand? What will we do if Thailand opposes us?
(Answer) Prime Minister: That will be dealt with just before occupation. At present, things could go either way; Thailand is wavering. Japan would wish that they do as we ask while there is still peace. Just before we start operations we intend to approach them and have our demands met. If we must resort to force, we will attempt to keep it to a minimum.
3. What measures will be taken in the case of aerial bombardment of the home islands?
[no reply written]
Chairman Hara’s final views
1. The American attitude is one that Japan cannot longer tolerate and further negotiation is pointless. War cannot be avoided.
2. There are no doubts about early victory, but in the case of a long war, the support of the people’s will is necessary.
3. A long war cannot be avoided, but it is necessary that resolution be reached as quickly as possible. Therefore we must now begin thinking about how things are to be concluded.
4. Decisions About the Formalities of Opening Hostilities. Notice of the Breaking Off of Negotiations.
(1) Neither the date and time of the opening of hostilities nor the related formalities were discussed at the Imperial Conference on Dec. 1.
(2) After the Imperial Conference on Dec. 1, at the At the Liaison Conference on Dec. 4, the following agreements were reached:
1. Foreign Minister Togo’s proposal for the final notice was approved.
2. It would be notice to the effect that on Dec. 8th (Japan time) Japan was breaking off diplomatic negotiations and considered itself free to take unhampered action.
3. The above notification would take place in Washington.
4. The above notification would take place before attacking.
5. The time of delivery of the notice would be decided by consultation between the Foreign Minister and the Army and Navy Chiefs of Staff.
The diplomatic handling of the final notice would be the responsibility of the Foreign Ministry.
Note: According to Yamamoto’s testimony [Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of the Combined Fleet]:
1. The final notice would be drafted by the Foreign Ministry based on what had been discussed at the Liaison Conference. Corrections to be made, based on discussions with army and navy personnel, and text to be proposed at the Dec. 4 Liaison Conference. Copies to be distributed to all in attendance. Final approval was secured.
2. The participants in the Liaison Conference firmly believed that the last part clearly indicated the breaking of diplomatic relations and the opening of hostilities.
The outline of the final notice was reported by the Foreign Ministry to the cabinet meeting on Dec. 5, and was approved by all present.
Note: According to Yamamoto’s testimony, the decision about the formalities of commencing hostilities, that is to say, the decision to give notice in Washington that negotiations were being broken off, was made at a Liaison Conference on Dec. 2nd. The facts are correct, but there was no Liaison Conference on Dec. 2nd. It is my recollection that it was on Dec. 4. [According to General Miki, Tojo is referring here to Kumaichi Yamamoto, who was head of the U.S. desk at the Foreign Ministry during the third Konoe cabinet.]
On the Ultimatum to theUnited States
1. The final notice [the fourteen-part final Japanese reply to Secretary of State Hull’s proposals of November 26] that was ordered to be delivered by hand to the United States government at 1:00 p.m. on Dec. 7, 1941 [Washington, DC, time] is as described in testimony (No. 1245) of this trial.
2. It was believed that in this notice the Japanese government was breaking off diplomatic negotiations and had determined to make war.
3. The research as to whether this notice was in accordance with international law was undertaken with sufficient care by the Foreign Ministry, especially in the Treaty Section, and the Liaison Conference put its faith in that study.
4. I do not accept the prosecution’s claim that the text of the notice does not correspond to what the Hague treaty, in article three, calls a declaration of war with reasons included [a reference to the 1907 Hague Convention on the commencement of hostilities]
5. If one reads the 2400 characters of the entire document, particularly in light of circumstances at the time, it criticizes the American attitude, and makes it clear that Japan had no choice but to take military action. Therefore:
(1) World peace must be built upon reality and an understanding of the other’s position, and can be achieved only by finding means that are acceptable. It is not conducive to negotiations for one country to ignore reality and force its own selfrighteousness upon another country.
(2) It can only be said that the United States, seduced by its own doctrines and selfishness, was planning to expand the war.
(3) Although it avoided handling its international relations by means of force, the United States government advanced its harsh claims by applying economic pressure, together with the British government and others. This kind of pressure can, at times, be even more inhumane than military pressure and should be avoided as a means of handling international relations.
(4) In every instance, what the U.S. government demanded of Japan ignored reality in China and attempted to subvert the position of Japan, which was the stabilizing force in East Asia. These demands by the American government prove that it had abandoned its position of ceasing to aid Chiang Kai-shek, and that its intention was to hinder the reestablishment not only of peace between Japan and China but in all of East Asia.
The above makes it clear that Japan had lost all hope in further negotiation, and was forced to extreme measures as a matter of pure self defense.
(5) Furthermore, at the end [of the final note] it states: “The Japanese government has finally lost its hope of adjusting international relations and, together with the government of the United States, establishing and supporting peace in the Pacific. It is therefore with much regret that we notify the United States government that having taken into consideration the attitude of the United State government, we see no prospect for a solution by means of continued negotiation.”
The above is a notice of a break in diplomatic relations and, moreover, given the strained circumstances of the time, we understood it to be notice of Japan’s intent to make war.[On the evening of December 6, 1941, President Roosevelt himself read this and commented: “This means war".]
Note: 1. Yamamoto, in his testimony, says, “The members of the Liaison Conference firmly believed that the last words make clear the intention to break off diplomatic relations and make war.”
Various Problems to which the Pearl Harbor Attack is Central
[Tojo’s notes of likely trial questions, and draft replies]
1. Why did Japan start the useless Great East Asian War?
Answer: Leaving aside the more distant causes, the direct reasons were as follows: Japan’s military and economic survival was threatened by a group of nations led by Britain and the United States. Attempts were made to reach a solution by negotiation between Japan and the United States, but that route was eventually foreclosed, so for reasons of selfpreservation and self-defense, war was decided on.
2. On what day did Japan decide to make war?
Answer: It was decided on the basis of conclusions reached at the Imperial Conference of Dec. 1.
3. As for the Imperial Conference of Dec. 1, was it not the case that war was to be made against the United States, Britain and Holland because the negotiations with America based on the Imperial Policy Execution Outline adopted on Nov. 5 had come to nothing [a reference to the final Japanese proposal for a peaceful settlement].
Answer: That is correct.
4. In that case, Japan decided on war, not for reasons of self preservation, but because the US-Japan negotiations had failed. Is that not so?
Answer: No. Naturally, there were various kinds of problems included in the US-Japan negotiations. However, the main thing was to relieve the threat to Japan’s existence. War was decided on because relief could not be obtained.
5. Nevertheless, according to the decisionof the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941, “In order to break out of the present crisis and to achieve self-preservation and self-defense, and in order to establish a new order in Greater East Asia, war against the United States, Britain, and Holland is decided upon and the following measures are to be taken.” Does this not show that the establishment of a greater East Asian order was the main objective of the US-Japan negotiations?
Answer: That is correct. At the time, the establishment of the new order in greater East Asia was one objective.
6. If that is the case, then was not the main reason for the decision to go to war the rejection of Japan’s claims about the establishment of a new order in greater East Asia?
Answer: No. The establishment of a new order in greater East Asia was one of the objectives of the US-Japan negotiations, but if this had been the only objective there would still have been prospects for a peaceful solution. In fact, during the course of the US-Japan negotiations, in this area Japan considered the American claims and made many concessions in the hope of reaching a solution. However, during this period, economic and military pressure from the British-American side grew ever stronger, and it became clear that Japan’s existence was endangered. The decision to go to war was made for that reason. Thus, the main reason for the decision to make war was self-preservation and self-defense.
7. According to the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941, “At this time, it is decided to make war on Britain, the United States, and Holland, and the following measures are to be taken.” Does this not mean that the decision to make war on Britain, the United States, and Holland was made, not on Dec. 1st, but by decision of the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5?
Answer: No. At the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, it was decided that war against Britain, the United States and Holland would be unavoidable if no solution could be reached by diplomatic negotiation. On Dec. 1st, war was decided upon as a consequence of the failure of diplomatic negotiations.
8. [sic] Had not Japan already decided at the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941 to make war? Did it not send Ambassador Kurusu to America in order to camouflage the decision to make war and to carry out operations, rather than in any hope of achieving a diplomatic solution?
Answer: No. Japan’s position at the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5 1941 was that the decision to make war would be unavoidable if the diplomatic negotiations did not reach a solution. We sincerely hoped that the US-Japan negotiations would achieve a breakthrough.
At that Imperial Conference we did the following:
1) Decided to propose further concessions at the US-Japan negotiations. 2) As can be clearly seen from the decision that the deployment of force would be canceled if negotiations succeeded by 0000 hours of Dec. 1, this was by no means a policy of camouflage. Japan does not engage in camouflage foreign relations as part of a policy to gain power. Moreover, at an important meeting held in the presence of the Emperor, something like this would never have been permitted against his wishes.
9. That can be understood to some degree, but did you not make proposals in the US-Japan negotiations that you knew the United States could not accept, and thus anticipating the failure of the diplomatic negotiations, did you not deceive Ambassadors Nomura and Kurusu? Has not Ambassador Nomura himself said, “I had not even imagined an attack on Hawaii"?
Answer: No. What had been decided at the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941, was the limits of the concessions that Japan was then able to make. On the American side, from the very beginning there had not been the slightest softening of demands. It is a fact that only the Japanese side had made concessions. Moreover, in my policy speech, as Prime Minister, to the 77th Diet session on Nov. 17, 1941, I spoke clearly of what we expected from diplomatic negotiations. At the same time, Foreign Minister Togo stated plainly, “Naturally, should it come to a matter in which a great nation were to lose its authority, a strong position must be taken to reject this, and we look forward to negotiations with sufficient determination on this point.” The full text was broadcast overseas at the time, intentions were made clear to the world, and the full text was printed in American newspapers. Consequently, at that stage American officials should have understood Japan’s resolve.
If, at that point, the American side had accepted Japanese concessions and the US-Japan negotiations had reached a solution, deployment of force and preparations for same would have promptly been canceled, in accordance with the decision of the Nov. 5th Imperial Conference. To know this is to know that there was no camouflage policy. That Ambassador Nomura did not expect an attack on Hawaii is a fact. That sort of attack is top secret from an operational point of view, and in order for it not to be disclosed, it was not even revealed to the general cabinet members who participated in the Imperial Conference.
10. When were operational preparations started for war against the United States, Britain, and Holland?
Answer: That would be a matter for the Imperial General Headquarters and I do not know the details, but both the army and navy started operational preparations on the basis of decisions taken at the Nov.5, 1941, Imperial Conference. However, this was undertaken on condition that if there were a compromise in the diplomatic negotiations by 0000 hours, Dec. 1, 1941, everything could be halted immediately.
11. Is it correct to assume that the orders with regard to the opening of hostilities in the war against the United States, Britain, and Holland were issued immediately after the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941?
Answer: No. Immediately after the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941, orders were given for joint operational preparations by the army and navy, and they would not have been orders to start operations. At this Imperial Conference it was decided only to start preparing for operations.
12. In that case, what were the specifics of those preparations?
Answer: That would be a matter for the Imperial General Headquarters and not within the area about which I can responsibly speak. About the navy, in particular, I am poorly informed.
13. Tell us what you knew as Army Minister.
Answer: As I recall, the principal matters were as follows. However, they were undertaken principally under the authority of the Army Chief of Staff.
Nov. 6, 1941 — General Headquarters of the Southern Army. Appointment of Marshall Terauchi as Supreme Commander of the Southern Army. Marshall Terauchi ordered to prepare to occupy vital areas to the south.
Nov. 15, 1941 — Decision on an outline for an operations plan against Britain and U.S.
14. Did you know about the “Imperial Policy Execution Outline” that was adopted at the Imperial Conference of Sept. 6, 1941?
Answer: I don’t recall the details but I have a general knowledge of it.
15. About its general outline:
Based on Japan’s resolve to wage war against the United States, Britain, and Holland for reasons of self-preservation and self-defense, war preparations were to be largely complete by the latter part of October. Also, as mentioned before, if, by the first part of October, Japan’s requirements were still not met by diplomatic negotiation, Japan was resolved to wage war on the United States, Britain, and Holland. This is to say that preparations for war against the US, Britain, and Holland, that is to say, for the Great East Asian War, were not decided on at the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941, but had already been decided on at the Imperial Conference of Sept. 6, had they not?
Answer: Yes. As pointed out in the main text, under the strained circumstances of the time, for its own selfpreservation and self-defense, Japan was to make every attempt at diplomacy. However, if Japan’s requirements could not be met, we had resolved to prepare for war, and were resolved to wage war against the US, Britain, and Holland. Thus, our war preparations had two postures: both war and peace.
16. The war preparations based on the decisions of the Imperial conference of Sept. 6,1941, were reconfirmed at the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, were they not?
Answer: No. They were not reconfirmed. The war preparations of the Sept. 6 Imperial Conference were based on the possibility of war with the US, Britain, and Holland, and were preparations in a broad sense. Specific preparations had not yet begun. In the meantime, the third Konoe cabinet had fallen and the Tojo cabinet had taken its place. Under instruction of the Emperor, all decisions up to the point were returned to a state of blank paper, and the current conditions were reappraised by the Liaison Conference. It was on a new foundation that operations planning was decided on at the Nov. 5th Imperial Conference.
17. Even if that were the case, it was canceled only in the mind, and in reality war preparations had been continued since Sept. 6, and consequently they were only reconfirmed on Nov. 5 were they not?
Answer: No. It was not only in the mind. It was based on the results of a reappraisal, and in reality, the preparations that began Sept. 6 were canceled. To be specific, this is clear from the fact that such specific operational preparations as the appointment of the Supreme Commander of the Southern Army and the conclusion of the outline for operational plans against the U.S. and Britain took place after the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5th.
18. Do you know about the “Imperial Policy Execution Outline to Follow Changing Circumstances” that was established at the Imperial Conference of July 2, 1941?
Answer: I don’t remember the details but I know the general outline.
19. [sic] In order to execute the decision items it clearly says, “completion of preparations for war against Britain and America,” and “do not shirk from war with Britain and America.” Judging from this, had not plans for the Great East Asian War already been considered by July 2, 1941?
Answer: This Imperial Conference was held to set national policy after the beginning of hostilities between Germany and the Soviet Union. [Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.] Its main thrusts were to maintain the policy of establishing the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, and to determine a southern policy as well as a posture to adopt towards northern problems so as to solve the China Incident and establish a foundation for self-preservation and selfdefense. With respect to executing a southern policy with regard to French Indochina and Thailand, these were contingency defensive preparations against the possibility that we might face military resistance from Britain or America. These were not preparations for the Great East Asian War, which came later.
20. Earlier you said that the resolve to make war on Britain and America was a result of military and economic threats from the British-American side that endangered the existence of Japan, and was for self-preservation and self-defense, but when did those threats begin to be felt?
Answer: In answer to that question, let me first say three things.
First, Japan, China and Manchuria are at the center of a northern threat from Soviet power in the Siberian area, British power directed eastward from India, Burma, and Malaya, and American power directed northward from the Pacific. Thus, they were at the center of these three great forces and were in circumstances in which, as independent nations, they had to engage in self-preservation and self-defense.
Second, in that environment, from July of 1937, Japan had been at war with China — a China complicated by the various powers' rights and privileges. Japan’s opponent, the Chungking government, was receiving support from powerful Britain and America, and was continuing the war.
Third, after the first great European war, the United States raised its tariffs and strengthened the Pan American Union. Britain tightened its grip on the British economic bloc, the Soviet Union went into isolation, and Japan’s trade was excluded all around the world. Then, when war broke out in Europe in 1939, one of its effects was that Japan’s peaceful trade was restricted to the United States and the southern countries, and this trade was vital to the support of Japan’s existence.
21. When did Japan begin to feel menaced by the British-American side?
Answer: In early 1940 there was a threat to Japan in the [US] naval policy proposal. On July 25, 1940, oil and scrap metal were put on a permit-only basis. In Aug. 1940, there was the establishment of a regular Joint Committee with Canada. In Sept. 1940, there was a representative meeting in Britain of Africa, Hong Kong, Malaya, Palestine and Britain about maintenance of the situation in French Indochina. Jan. 15, 1941, a Conference on Joint Pacific Defense was held in Washington for US, Britain, and Holland. In Feb. 1941, there were measures to reinforce military bases in East Asia, Alaska, and the Pacific, followed by a concentration of forces in Malaya, Burma, and on the Thai border in order to disturb conversations between Japan and Thailand. On March 11, 1941, the Lend-Lease Act was passed.
22. Wasn’t that because war preparations had been completed and the decision had been made to go to war? History shows that among the reasons for war there are always misunderstandings and miscalculations. Wasn’t it because there were important misunderstandings between Japan and the United States?
Answer: The US-Japan negotiations were a series of misunderstandings right from the start. However, the Hull note could not possibly have been a simple misunderstanding. [This is a reference to Secretary of State Hull’s stiff response to the Japanese proposals of November 25, 1941, which he issued on the following day.]
Outline of the Disagreements with Chief of Counsel Keenan’s Opening Address
[Joseph Keenan was the Chief Prosecutor at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East]
Part I: On General Issue
(1) Differences from the Japanese point of viewabout the wish for world peace and security.
1. The ultimate purpose of the trial is said to be “to contribute significantly to the future peace and security of the world.” The purpose of the indictments is “do justice properly.” It is arbitrarily concluded that Japan “declared war on civilization.” Consequently, “by means of the rights and powers granted,” “in order to prevent future wars,” it is claimed that “a firm struggle has been begun to protect the world from the destruction and obliteration of civilization.” It is also added that “it is not for such petty reasons as retribution or revenge.”
2. I have no objections to the wish for world peace and security and that all peoples be spared war. However, this cannot be expected merely because [a nation] arbitrarily defines “civilization” and assumes the posture of the world’s policeman. The fundamental causes of war must be studied, and they must first be removed.
3. If the victorious nations unilaterally and arbitrarily decide that their way of thinking is the best, and force it on other nations and peoples, it will instead be a reason for future conflicts and wars. The circumstances after the First Great European War and today’s world situation after the end of the Second World War are eloquent testimony to this.
4. A correct conclusion about Japan’s behavior cannot be arrived at without understanding that the semi-colonized status of East Asia, which had its roots in the distant past, was always a reason for the troubles of East Asia, and that the conditions of war that Japan encountered had these special circumstances as their origin.
5. When a nation risks its fate by making war, there are always profound reasons for it. There is no nation in the world that likes war, and no people that likes war.
(2) Errors in comments about civilization and international justice.
Japan’s point of view:
1. I deny that Japan “declared war on civilization.”
2. To advocate a New Order was to seek freedom and respect for peoples without prejudice, and to seek a stable basis for the existence all peoples, equally, and free of threats. Thus, it was to seek true civilization and true justice for all the peoples of the world, and to view this as the destruction of personal freedom and respect is to be assailed by the hatred and emotion of war, and to make hasty judgments.
3. I would like to point out their [my accusers'] inhumane and uncivilized actions in East Asia ever since the Middle Ages.
4. In the shadow of the prosperity of Europe and America, the colored peoples of East Asia and Africa have been sacrificed and forced into a state of semi-colonization. I would point out that the cultural advance of these people has been suppressed in the past and continues to be suppressed in the present by policies designed to keep them in ignorance.
5. I would point out that Japan’s proposal at the Versailles Peace Conference on the principle of racial equality was rejected by delegates such as those from Britain and the United States.
6. Of two through five above, which is civilization? Which is international justice? Justice has nothing to do with victor nations and vanquished nations, but must be a moral standard that all the world’s peoples can agree to. To seek this and to achieve it — that is true civilization.
7. In order to understand this, all nations must hate war, forsake emotion, reflect upon their pasts, and think calmly.
(3) The principle of no retroaction is being needlessly trampled under foot.
1. The illegality of trampling on the principleof no retroaction.
2. The illegality of trying to explain that illegal action in the name of civilization.
3. The danger posed to the maintenance of future peace by affirming this. Its myopic and incoherent character.
(4) Denial of conspiracy
1. It is an absurdity to define “conspiracy,"which had as its purpose “domestic plots,” in such a way as to include the deliberations held as part of an independent nation’s political system (including cabinet meetings, Imperial Conferences, Imperial General Headquarters, Liaison Conferences).
2. In Japan there was no secret association that conspired, or plotted to wage war. One must be dreaming to think that there was an association in Japan like the Nazis in Germany, and any thinking based on such an assumption is a delusion.
3. On the true nature of the changes in Japan’s governments and the system of deciding on war.
4. It is absurd to ignore the treaty-making rights and powers of an independent nation and to conclude that the Tripartite Pact [of September 1940] with Germany and Italy was a conspiracy.
5. Japan had no consistent war policy.
6. I would like know how it was that many different defendants, of different ages, active at different times, in different jobs, and in different locations could possibly have entered into a conspiracy.
7. The independence of the high command refutes the existence of a conspiracy.
8. That there were differences of opinion among the defendants is evidence that there were arguments among the defendants. I point out the frail foundation for the view that “expansion of Japanese power in every direction” constitutes a crime of conspiracy.
9. The army’s land-based programs were opposed to the navy’s sea-based programs, and this, too, is proof that there was no plot.
(5) The appropriateness of the right of self-defense.Denial that Japan waged aggressive war.
1. The appropriateness, in international relations,of the right of self-defense is a right of an independent nation.
2. American claims to the right of self-defenseand claims to the right of self-defense made prior to the outbreak of the Great East Asia War. (Claims made with respect to the European War and its related actions. Also, an interpretation of the American claims to self-defense focusing on the Tripartite Pact, made during the US-Japan negotiations.)
3. It was natural that given the special circumstances of East Asia, there would be frequent occurrences of self-defense activity.
4. I point out the self-righteous interpretation of “aggression.”
(6) Manchukuo and the other nations that were established in East Asia were legitimate.
1. Indicate the evidence that they were established according to the wills of their peoples. (Contrast with war-time governments in exile that were not on their native soil.)
2. I deny any violation of the Nine Power Treaty [concluded in 1922 to guarantee China’s territorial integrity].
3. Japan’s friendly internal guidance during the developmental stage of the nation of Manchukuo did not deny its sovereignty.
4. The fact that ten or so nations recognized it. In particular, at the time of the signing of the Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Treaty in 1941, the Soviet Union affirmed the existence of Manchukuo, promised to respect its territory and refrain from aggression, and exchanged consuls.
5. Point out that pride was taken in political and economic help and intervention.
6. In their fundamental thinking, troop operations on the one hand, and the establishment and development of an independent nation on the other, are different elements. It is not correct to confuse the two and mistakenly conclude that there was aggression or subjugation.
(7) The maintenance of international law and custom.I believe that in East Asia, human relations, customs, and habits are different from those in the West.
1. It is natural to respect and to abide by internationallaw and custom, but this must apply to victors as well as to the vanquished.
2. On the Japanese national character and its respect for humanity.
3. How this applies to East Asia, where human relations, customs, habits and standards of living are different.
4. The true meaning of not having ratified the treaty on prisoners of war [Geneva Conventions of 1929], and the fact that we applied the treaty.
5. That it is unreasonable to equate the casualties of a war, started with the intention of exercising self-defense, with murder.
Part II — SPECIFIC ITEMS
(The main purpose being to prove that Japan’s actions were not aggressive war but the exercise of the right of self defense.)
Outline of My Impressions of the Chief of Counsel’s Address
Did Japan really declare war on civilization?
(1) War is something that destroys the civilized life of peoples, so there can be no question that it is something that a nation must do everything to avoid. For this reason, in normal times, causes that could lead to war are suppressed before they lead to crisis or conflict, and early solutions that prevent the eruption of conflict are necessary — so long as theyare arrived at in the spirit of constant mutual compromise. This is particularly important for great nations. Moreover, not only does war result in great sacrifice and cost to both the opponent and to one’s own people, if an error is made and war is lost, it can result in miserable conditions in which the nation can be destroyed. Since this is well known, there is no such thing on the face of the earth as a nation that loves war, or what one might call a war-loving nation or war-loving people.
Moreover, for one who is in a position of national leadership, it is natural that, faced with the heavy responsibility he bears towards nation and people, such a resolve should be thought over very seriously. Especially, when a small, weak nation plunges into war with a great nation, that act in itself explains, without one word, the reason why war is necessary. When a great nation uses its power to force its will upon a small, peaceful nation, and tries to prevent its normal development and, moreover, threatens that nation’s existence in order to achieve these aims, can that be conceived of as civilized conduct?
According to the address by the chief of counsel, Japan declared war on civilization, but the responsibility for declaring war lies rather, as explained above, with the AngloAmerican side, which forced Japan into war. Japan fought in order to ensure its own survival and also to establish the proper survival of the people of East Asia. In other words, it sought true civilization for mankind. This truth is not to be judged hastily as the sorrowful lamentations of a vanquished country, for it is the truth of mankind. (A weak and gentle lamb — or nation — is born, and lives by eating grass.It has never even thought of eating the flesh of lions or tigers. Lions and tigers do eat the flesh of lambs and [what the chief of counsel is arguing] is like claiming that it is the natural fate of the lamb to be eaten by lions and tigers, and that this is civilization and justice.)
(2) If one examines the Chief of Counsel’s address it is similar to denying to an independent nation the right to a war of self-defense.
Avoiding any discussion of the reasonableness of a war of self-defense, it is unilaterally declared that Japan’s behavior was aggressive war, and this is the point of departure. It is not necessary to say a great deal about the fact that according to international law, a war of self-defense can be reasonable. As is clear from the diplomatic documents that preceded the conclusion of the No-War Treaty [the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928], before adhering to this treaty, Japan reserved this very point. This is also clear from the explanation that then-US Secretary of State Kellogg gave to an American conference on international law. If an independent nation faces an external threat to its existence and is endangered, it has the right to remove that threat. Many misunderstandings arise from not doing a theoretical study of the fact that Japan based its behavior on this right, and from summarily and arbitrarily concluding that what Japan did was a violation of international law. Moreover, the fact that Japan’s military self-defense activity was frequent is dismissed as nothing more than a common Japanese tactic, but no thought is given to the circumstances of East Asia that gave rise to frequent self-defense activity. Further, a war of self-defense is proper under international law, it is a free action, and it is a right that an independent nation has under international law. Therefore it does not come under the constraints of the Hague Convention with respect to the initiation of war, and it is therefore not a violation of law if the final notice does not necessarily follow the form that it sets forth. For these reasons, it is a great error deliberately to ignore the circumstances and declare that Japan’s initiation of war on Dec. 8, 1941 was an attack without warning and therefore a treaty violation, and therefore murder.
(3) When I listen to the discussions about conspiracy, I get the impression that in order to find some basis for the charge, materials have been collected and an attempt has been made to make something out of them.
The assumption is that Japan had established the Great East Asian War as a goal, and had already planned and plotted it for many years. I do not get the impression that evidence was first gathered and that a judgment was then made on the basis of the evidence.
Nothing is said about the international facts of the AngloAmerican legal pressure applied after the First Great European War [the First World War] Japan’s political circumstances are ignored, and no thought is given to the efforts made to establish peace in East Asia. Moreover, there is no explanation as to how a conspiracy could be possible among a large number of defendants, whose ages differ greatly, and whose active periods, jobs, and workplaces are all different.
Furthermore, it is a great error to say that the first step towards aggression was for an independent nation to establish school instruction as a way of nurturing citizen spirit. Japan suffered greatly in the Russo-Japanese war [1904-1905]. Because China was weak, Japan assumed the burden in place of China, and earned treaty-based rights by risking its very existence as a nation. As a consequence, Manchukuo become a flourishing territory, and Japan was trying to develop. To say that this was the second step towards aggression is another great error.
(4) An independent nation has the right to hold to an ideal. Despite this, the Anglo-American side sets up its own ideal about the establishment of world peace as the only correct view. It summarily determines that Japan’s ideals — the New East Asian Order and the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere — are supranational thinking, and builds its arguments on that basis. Moreover, it fails to distinguish measures that were taken to realize that ideal and bring common benefits to the related nations, from measures taken to win the war and that were in effect only during the war. Thus mixed together, both are criticized.
(5) Whether or not the laws and conventions of warfare were violated will be examined later in this trial. However, Japan is one of the civilized nations, and as part of its national character it would have attempted to abide by laws and conventions. These would be incidental acts undertaken by people on the battlefield (and obviously if they occurred, they are not be forgiven or justified). It is charged that this sort of behavior was an indispensable part of Japanese military activity and it is concluded that it was simply one of the Japanese methods of war. However, compared to what was done to Japan — the indiscriminate bombing of defenseless cities and the calculated, gigantic massacre achieved by use of the atomic bomb — our actions were natural measures for maintaining civilization and our sin is light.
(6) Manchukuo, the Nanking government,and such [Japanese sponsored] nations [Chinese] as the Philippines and Burma were recognized by as many as ten or more nations, including Japan. They were established according to international law, by the will of the people, and within national territories. Just because they were not recognized by the enemy during the war, they are now being called puppet governments. It is true that as a result of that war they were destroyed, but it is a fact that they were not puppet governments but nations recognized by a number of other nations.
(7) Did the Tripartite Pact really plan world conquest? The real purpose of the Tripartite Pact was explained in the text of the treaty itself and was as follows:
1. That each country, in whatever it does in order to gain its place, should first of all work for permanent peace.
2. That a new order was to be sought in Europe and in Greater East Asia for the common existence and prosperity of peoples. It was promised that this would be supported through mutual association and cooperation.
3. Further, cooperation was not to be denied nations, anywhere in the world, that were making similar efforts. There would be an attempt to fulfill the ultimate hope of the three nations with respect to world peace. In other words, imperialist policies were to be avoided, with a goal of coexistence and mutual prosperity rather than subjugation. It is natural for independent nations to wish for such things. For a disadvantaged nation, and for one to which pressures were being applied, this was nothing more than to seek the natural path of mankind, to advance along the path towards civilization. To think of this as world conquest is a grave mistake. Furthermore, it is natural that the Anti-Comintern Pact, as stated in the text, would have entirely different purposes. As for whether there were secret agreements of some kind, I never heard of such a thing.
(8) Leaving aside the question of whether it is appropriate to discuss the Russo-Japanese War during this trial, it was very much with the help of Britain and the United States that the war was carried out and was successful. At the time, the Japanese people felt grateful to those two nations.
1) Japan never planned to wage a war for the purposes of aggression. Japan always tried to establish its independence and self-preservation and self-defense, and tried to counter the instability and turmoil that resulted from European and American aggression in East Asia. Japan tried to stabilize East Asia and believed that this was a contribution to world peace.
2) Contrary to the reasons for prosecution that are set out in many pages, the events from 1928 to 1945 — such things as the Manchurian Incident, the China Incident, and the Great East Asian War — were not carried out on the basis of a coherent, common plan. Each had its own causes based on the international situation of the time, and each is a separate matter.
3) The “construction of a New East Asian Order” that was planned at the time of the China Incident, and the “construction of a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” that was planned at the time of the Great East Asian War were not for the purpose of gaining a sphere of military, political, and economic domination for Japan. The purpose was to relieve East Asia from the fetters and exploitation of the past several centuries of aggression and exploitation by the great powers of Europe and America. Each nation of East Asia was to respect the mutual autonomy of the others, cooperate economically, engage in mutual defense, seek the fruits of coexistence and co-prosperity, and seek peace in East Asia. There was not the slightest attempt at aggression or exploitation. Instead, it was defense in the name of ensuring the survival of East Asian nations and peoples. Furthermore, war was not waged in order to achieve the goals of “construction of a New East Asian Order.” The attempt was made to achieve its goals by harmonizing it with the China Incident, which had occurred for other reasons. The same can be said for the construction of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, which was undertaken in connection with the Great East Asian War, which in turn occurred for separate reasons of its own.
4) Contrary to what is written in indictment 5, Japan did not join the Tripartite Pact in an attempt to secure military, political, and economic domination over the whole world. Instead,
1. Ever since the Washington Conference [Nov. 1922-Feb. 1923], Japan had fallen into a state of international isolation, and it sought allies. It sought world peace, and the maintenance of a balance of world power.
2. Efforts were made to prevent the European War from spreading to East Asia.
3. It was hoped that Germany’s power would be of assistance in resolving the issue that was then of greatest concern to Japan, namely, the China Incident.
4. It was hoped that it would be of assistance in “construction of a New East Asian Order.”
Furthermore, contrary to what is written in indictment 5, there was no effort made to establish a particular position of domination in East Asia. It was a mutual recognition of Japan’s leadership position, of Japan’s capabilities of the time, of the fact that it was in a position to take the initiative with the various nations of East Asia. There was no attempt to subjugate the nations of East Asia. This is clear from the wording of the treaty.
It was not, as written in indictment 5, an attempt to rule the world. It was the hope for a world in which every nation could achieve its own place. Moreover it is not the case that Japan, Germany, and Italy plunged into the Second World War according to plan. Each fell into a state of war in accordance with the circumstances of the time.
(5) The Manchurian Incident has deep roots. Japan had won special rights as a result of the great sufferings of the Russo-Japanese War. China launched a planned, systematic, illegal program of exclusion, insult, boycott of Japanese products, and persecution and violence against 1½ million imperial subjects, including Koreans and legally-resident Japanese. The Mukden Incident was simply the spark that set things off. Contrary to what is written in indictment 2, it was not something that happened with the calculated objective of “establishing a separate nation under Japanese and Chinese rule.” At the time the incident began, the policy was to keep the trouble from spreading. That it did spread was a result of the natural exercise of an independent nation’s responsibilities in protecting 1½ million imperial subjects — Japanese and Koreans — who were suffering from a deterioration of public order.
Furthermore, the establishment of Manchukuo was conceived of by the people of Manchukuo themselves. Manchukuo itself was the reason for the existence of the state of Manchukuo. Finally, for anyone who does not disregard the history of its origins and its geography, it is obvious that Manchukuo would depend on Japan and have a destiny that was pro-Japanese.
(6) The China Incident did not occur as set forth in indictment 3. It was a result of the fact that China had persisted, ina planned and systematic way, in excluding and insulting Japan, boycotting Japanese goods, persecuting resident Japanese, and committing massacres and violence. Its purpose was not, as set forth in indictment 3, “the direct or indirect establishment of one or more nations under the rule of Japan so that Japan could dominate China militarily, politically, and economically.” On the contrary, Japan hoped for the unity of China. Further, even after the incident began, reflecting on the reasons for the incident, Japan hoped for the “construction of a New East Asian Order” so as to bring about permanent stability in East Asia.
The purpose was not for Japan to gain military, political and economic control of China. It was an effort to seek the true liberation of co-existence and co-prosperity that comes from neighborly relations, economic cooperation, and common defense.
(7) Contrary to what is claimed in indictment 4, Japan did not, for an extended period beginning in 1928, try to establish military, political, and economic dominance over broad areas of East Asia, Asia, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the adjacent nations and islands. Instead, it sought to liberate East Asia from several centuries of aggression, control, and exploitation by the great powers of Europe and America. Its wish was for every nation of East Asia mutually to respect the autonomy of others, to build friendly relations, to cooperate economically, to maintain a common defense, to seek the fruits of co-existence and co-prosperity, and establish peace in East Asia. Japan had not the slightest aggressive or exploitative intent. Instead, it wished to defend and ensure the survival of every East Asian nation and people. This is not to say that others were to be excluded.
Moreover, war was not waged in order to achieve the goals of the construction of a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The reasons for war lay elsewhere. It was during a war that had occurred for other reasons, but in accordance with those circumstances, that an attempt was made to achieve the construction of a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.
It was ordered [by the “war crimes"tribunal] that virtually all enemy [American] documents of the following kind be withheld: those that might substantiate the Japanese claim that this was a war of self-defense or that there had been antiJapanese economic pressure. (Such documents might have included the report of the Pearl Harbor Attack Investigation Committee [Joint Congressional Committee on the Pearl Harbor Attack] and other U.S. State Department documents.) Pressures of this kind were so flagrantly unfair that the American lawyers assigned to the defense finally made a request: “We seek instruction from the Court as to whether evidence that Japan’s war was in self-defense will be accepted.” The court, touched in a vital spot, gave a vague answer.
The question of military pressure will probably be handled in the same way. I will note with interest what happens. Pressures like this are fine. I hope that there is more and stronger pressure. It only demonstrates to the world how unfair this trial is. It is amusing. (Impressions of Aug. 6).
On the Causes of the War
(1) I will ask about the reasons why Japan started the Pacific war.
Answer: There is much that I would like to say about the deeper causes, but I will save that for later. The immediate cause was the Anglo-American side’s extreme military and economic threats that put Japan’s existence in crisis. Japan tolerated this, and though it had little hope of success, sought resolution through US-Japan negotiations. However, in the end, the United States made difficult, unbearable demands, and the route to a solution through negotiation finally came to nothing. Japan was forced into a situation that could permit no further delay. Thus, as an independent nation, for reasons of self-preservation and self-defense, Japan bravely determined to wage war.
(2) However, the decision of the Imperial Conference of Dec. 1, 1941, says, “the American plan based on the Imperial Policy Execution Outline formulated on Nov. 5 not having come to fruition, war will be waged with the United States, Britain, and Holland.” From this it appears that Japan went to war, not out of self-preservation and self-defense, but because the US-Japan negotiations failed to reach a conclusion.
Answer: Included in the US-Japan negotiations were various matters in addition to the demands that the threats against Japan be eased. The U.S. and British economic and military threats were continued in parallel with the negotiations. I think that if there had been no such threats, the US-Japan negotiations would have continued, and even though there were problems, they could have been resolved by mutual compromise, and the Pacific War could have been avoided. However, these threats were only strengthened with the passage of time, and by August or September of 1941, Japan had already been pressed to the brink of the crisis. Hope lay only in the slim chance of a breakthrough in the US-Japan negotiations.
The decision at the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941, was taken in these circumstances. The specific conditions with respect to the US-Japan negotiations that arose from this decision were that concessions were to be made on the other political issues, and our demands were to be concentrated on one thing: the easing of the threats to Japan’s self-preservation and self-defense. However, in reply to that last proposal, the United States made difficult proposals that were clearly unacceptable to Japan. The possibility of breakthrough through US-Japan negotiations disappeared. Therefore, as explained above, the decision was reached, as an independent nation, to wage a war of self-preservation and self-defense so as to escape from these very real threats. The breakdown in the negotiations itself was not the reason for war.
Your Excellency, it may be appropriate at this point to quote from the speech you made at the Imperial Conference. It says:
1) An attempt was made on the basis of the decision of Nov. 5 to adjust relations with the United States, but the United States did not make a single concession.
2) In fact, they sought unconditional and complete [Japanese] troop withdrawal [from China] under the joint supervision of the United States, Britain, Holland and China; the repudiation of the Nanking government; and the renunciation of the Tripartite Pact.
3) The United States, Britain, Holland, and China stepped up their economic and military pressure.
The decision of Nov. 5 sought the end of economic pressure (in particular, the unfreezing of funds, and the free acquisition of oil and other materials). The second draft mentions these things clearly.
- Kiyose [Chief defense counsel for Tojo]
(3) From the mass of evidence produced so far,it can be concluded that Japan considered the construction of a New Order for greater East Asia an important political objective. Since the construction of a New Order for Greater East Asia was the primary objective of the US-Japan negotiation and was also the reason for starting the war, this talk of U.S. and British threats is nothing more than an excuse, is it not?
Answer: No. As explained above, the cause of the war was the threats from the US-British side. This is not an excuse.
The construction of a New Order for Greater East Asia was certainly, ever since the China incident, an important Japanese policy, and it was the main point of the US-Japan negotiations. However, Japan hoped for a realization of this policy on a peaceful basis of understanding by both nations. The US-Japan negotiations were one of the means to bring this about. In fact, on this issue, during the US-Japan negotiations, Japan considered the American side’s claims and tried to reach a solution by making concession after concession. Consequently, if this had been the only issue, there would have been no necessity to decide on war with the United States.
(4) If, as you say, the cause of the Pacific War was military and economic pressure from the American and British side that forced Japan into a crisis over its very existence, why were the US-Japan negotiations not concentrated on solving this one question?
Answer: The US-Japan negotiations changed over time. In April 1941, when the negotiations began, Japan had political objectives including the following:
1) The reestablishment of peace in East Asia by means of a resolution of the China Incident. 2) The maintenance of peace in the Pacific, which was beset by crises. 3) Prevention, in accordance with the Tripartite Pact, of the spread of the Great European War to East Asia. 4) Establishment of an economy of self-supply and self-sufficiency in the face of U.S. and British economic pressure.
We concluded that the U.S. side also hoped to keep peace in East Asia. It was thought that the satisfactory solution of these issues would be the foundation of a recovery in relations between Japan and the United States, and this was made the basis of U.S.-Japan negotiations. At that time, the economic and military pressure against Japan had not yet reached its peak. In July 1941, the economic blockade of Japan — of which the freezing of assets by the US, Britain, and Holland was the main element — along with military pressure brought Japan face to face with death. Consequently, at this period, the main issue of the negotiations was the relief and elimination of threats. This is clear from the Japanese side’s proposal of November 0 [November 7] based on the second draft based on the decision of the Imperial Conference of Nov. 5, 1941.
(5) You say that the cause of the war was economic and military threats from the United States and Britain against the existence of Japan, but what do you mean? Please give us a summary.
Answer: As has already been demonstrated, after the First Great European War, and after the Manchurian Incident, the United States adopted a policy of high tariffs, Britain built up an imperial economic bloc, and Japan’s trade was excluded from one part of the world after another.
Further, at the end of July 1939, the United States suddenly applied economic pressure, principally by rescinding its trade and commerce treaty with Japan. This, together with the outrageous act of economic blockade by means of the freezing of Japanese assets by the United States, Britain, and Holland, was a mortal threat to Japan, whose economic activities depended on foreign trade. This kind of economic blockade by nations with which Japan was not in a state of war was felt as an enemy act that was little different from war. From a military point of view, the US-British side openly increased its support of the Chungking forces, thus causing the war to continue. Moreover, the United States, Britain, and Holland, in concert with the Chungking government, concentrated troops in the Philippines, Malaya, Burma, and Dutch Indochina, and strengthened their military preparations by such means as increasing airbase facilities. A great American fleet was assembled in Hawaii and readied so as to be able to start operations at a moment’s notice. Such were the threats that faced Japan. Moreover, at the same time, according to reports, on October 3, 1941, British and American leaders met in Manila to discuss operations. Further, on October 9, a U.S. military delegation was received at a meeting in Hong Kong, at which support for China and the continued resistance of Chungking were discussed. Likewise, a certain American admiral (note: commander of the Pacific fleet, [Husband E.] Kimmel) threatened Japan with his famous statement to the effect that if there were war with Japan, the entire Japanese fleet could probably be sunk in a few weeks. Further, on Nov. 10, 1941, the British Prime Minister, at a luncheon for the installation of the [lord] mayor of London, said that if there were war between Japan and the United States, Britain was prepared to declare war on Japan within 24 hours. This was taken to mean that Britain and the United States were in complete accord on the subject of war with Japan, and that this resolve was intentionally being revealed.
Even if the threats from Britain andthe United States were real, were they not provoked by Japan’s southern advance into French Indochina and the consequent threat to British and American territory?
Answer: No. Japan’s southern advance was to:
1. Cut off the life line to the Chungking forces that ran through French Indochina and Burma — this, with the intention of resolving the China Incident.
2. Establish economic self-sufficiency so as to escape from Anglo-American economic pressure.
If, on the American and British side, there had been no support for Chungking or encouragement of continued resistance, this would not have been necessary. Moreover, if there had been no American and British economic pressure, and Japan had been able to continue in its economic dependency on peaceful foreign commerce, there would have been no need to advance to the south. It was natural that Japan should try to improve friendly relations with French Indochina and Thailand while peace lasted; these were nations with which Japan had broad connections.
When you touch on this point, the Chief of Counsel is likely to refer to the decisions of the July 6 Imperial Conference, particularly “French Indochina and Thailand policy items” and “matters related to furthering the southern policy,” and to cross examine you on these matters. Please be prepared.
The summary of item two of the decisions made on July 2 reads, “For its self-preservation and self-defense, Japan will continue the diplomatic negotiations necessary with respect to the southern territories, and will promote various other policies.” Furthermore, according to this section … “for this reason preparations for war with the United States and Britain are to be advanced, and first, policy items with regard to French Indochina and Thailand, as well as the matter of promoting the southern policy” … various policies with respect to French Indochina and Thailand were to be carried out and the conditions for southern advance were to be strengthened. It says, “in order to achieve this goal, Japan should not shirk from war with the United States and Britain.” The policy items with regard to French Indochina and Thailand were decisions of the Liaison Conference of Feb. 1, 1941, and it says, “for the self-preservation and self-defense of Japan, military, political, and economic union that is close and inseparable is to be established with French Indochina and Thailand.”
Furthermore, with respect to the promotion of the southern policy, at what is thought to be about the time of the April 17 Liaison Conference decision, (1) Military, political, and economic relations that are close and inseparable are to be established with French Indochina and Thailand. (2) Close economic relations are to be established with Dutch Indochina. (3) Proper commercial relations will be maintained with the remaining southern nations.
In principle, the realization of the above objective is to be by diplomatic means. In carrying out the above policy, military force is to be used for self-preservation and self-defense, only if such things as the following occur, and there is no means of resolving them: (1) A trade embargo by the United States, Britain, and Holland that threatens the survival of Japan. (2) The encirclement policy against Japan is strengthened by the United States, Britain, Holland, and China, and this cannot be tolerated for reasons of national security.
There is no contradiction between this and your proposed answer, but I noted it so that you would have it in mind. Furthermore, was it not concluded that the reason economic negotiations with Dutch Indochina by Kobayashi [Kobayashi Ichizoo, Minister of Commerce and Industry, who was head of the trade delegation that was sent to negotiate the import of oil, tin and rubber] and Yoshizawa [Yoshizawa Kenichi, former Foreign Minister, who succeeded Kobayashi] failed, was that there was behind-the-scenes interference by the United States and Britain?
(7) In reply to the first question, you said that you would put aside the deeper causes, but are those deeper causes additional reasons why Japan entered the Pacific War?
Answer: The deeper causes are what created the objective circumstances that drew the opponents into the unhappy fate of the Pacific War, but they are not the direct causes. However, in order to avoid future wars, and in order seriously to think about world peace, they are large subjects on which both the winners and the losers should reflect calmly. The reason why disturbances are common in East Asia, the reason Japan had been speaking of a New Order, the idea of building a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, the real meaning of the cry from the heart of the peoples of East Asia — have their origins in these deeper causes.
(8) Is that your personal view or isthat the official view of the Japanese government?
Answer: It is not my personal view. It is the foundational thinking on which the Japanese government based important policies.
(9) In that case, how can you demonstrate that this was official, foundational thinking?
Answer: Of all the declarations made by the various governments since the start of the China Incident, the clearest is the Joint Declaration of Greater East Asia made at the Greater East Asian Conference on Nov. 8, 1943. It is also clear from the speeches given at the conference by the delegates of the various countries. Also, the actual independence or independence movements that arose during the Pacific War in the Philippines, Burma, India and in other places are an eloquent testimonial.
(10) If what you say is true, then what you call the cry from the heart of East Asian peoples and nations, their ardent desire, took shape as Japan’s New Order policy. That can be taken as an important cause of the war, can it not?
Answer: No. Indeed, it was one of Japan’s important national policies, and everything was done to bring it to fruition. However, it is well known that a nation that exists in an international setting cannot expect its unilateral demands and wishes to be accepted unquestioningly by others. This is something that comes about from a spirit of mutual compromise and mutual sympathy, with each nation and people recognizing the welfare of others and making as their ideal the establishment of world peace. It is a question of the heart, and if only there is a conviction that war is unnecessary can things be achieved peacefully. This was what Japan hoped and strove for to the end. However, for other reasons, and before its policies could be achieved by peaceful means, Japan was lured into war. Therefore, these became the deeper causes that established the environment for the Pacific War, but they were not the direct causes.
(11) Nevertheless, any world statesman from a nation with an important connection with East Asia, if he had the slightest genuine desire for world peace, would not have ignored something as important as this was to the nations and peoples of East Asia. What do you say to that?
Answer: That is correct. It is something that could not be ignored and was not ignored.
(12) On what basis do you say that it was not ignored?
I shall explain the facts.
1. At the Washington Conference in 1922, other important questions were raised, but this problem was also considered. However, at that time, the cry from the heart of the nations and peoples of East Asia was not thoroughly understood. It was thought that the East Asian nations could be controlled through pressure and by alienating them from each other.
2. It can also be seen in the “Atlantic Charter,” which was agreed to by Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt at a meeting held in the Atlantic [August 14, 1941]. At this time, the full war in Europe had already broken out, the unfortunate China Incident had occurred in East Asia, and the tactic used by the Americans and the British of sowing discord among the nations of East Asia was a great obstacle to Japan’s attempt to reach peace with China. In the Atlantic Charter that resulted from this meeting, one cannot fail to note that the feelings of the East Asian peoples and nations were taken into consideration relatively often. However, the President and the British Prime Minister had, as top politicians, already lost appropriate expectations for East Asia. They should have been more bold in grasping what was happening in East Asia, in making important corrections to the mistakes of the past, and in making adjustments to the demands of the times. Moreover, both nations had failed to understand that they should abandon their traditional East Asian policy of sowing discord among nations, and should instead adopt a position of leadership based on the spirit of mutual aid and cooperation. Their only preparation for a great conflagration was a fire-fighting policy rather than a fire prevention policy.
3. These things are given further consideration in the Potsdam Declaration [August 2, 1945] but this was at the close of the Pacific War, and was not a policy for avoiding war.
(13) Do you mean, in your testimony, to criticize the past policies of the victorious powers and thereby defy the dignity of this court?
Answer: I have no intention at all of defying the dignity of the court. Nor do I intend to criticize the past policies of the victorious powers. It is regrettable if what I have said gives that impression. I am only describing the facts, and explaining the effect that Britain and America’s past policies had on the peoples of East Asia. It should be the intention of the victorious powers to seek true peace for the future, and in order to help them make fair observations, I believe it is the duty of a defendant to provide the court with material for reflection.
(14) Assuming that what you say is true, if the leaders of the United States and England had, even to a small degree, taken heed of the hopes and cries from the heart of the nations and peoples of East Asia, then you, as a leader of Japan, should have taken a positive role in showing understanding to these hopes and cries, should you not?
Answer: That is correct. I think what you say is true. This is what Japan desired for Japan as well as for the nations and peoples of East Asia. However, world politics must work with nations and peoples, which are living things. An effect can be achieved, and peace preserved only if the right policies are carried out at the right time. It does no good to give medicine to a corpse.
(15) According to your testimony so far, the reason that Japan went to war was not the breakdown of the US-Japan negotiations, nor was it as a result of Greater East Asian policies. Instead, you say the direct cause was economic and military threats from the allied side, and that Japan went to war for reasons of self-defense and self-preservation. If that is the case, why did Japan not adopt a policy of stopping the war in its early stages, in mid-1942, for example, by which time those threats had been largely dissipated?
Answer: War is not a solitary undertaking. Even if that might have been good for Japan, we did not think that the enemy would have agreed. In particular, both sides were bound by treaty not to make conclude a separate peace, and the world situation did not appear to be one in which proposals advantageous only to Japan would be accepted. Moreover, whatever the reasons for making war, once it had begun, we thought to win it, to adjust Japan’s policies to the circumstances of war and, within the parameters permitted by international law, to proceed boldly.