Few if any of the fateful decisions of history are as well documented as the one Japan made on 1 December 1941 to go to war with the United States and Great Britain. The sequence of events that led to this decision has been described in rich detail and at first hand by those who played the leading roles in this drama of national suicide, and, with somewhat more detachment, by the students of diplomacy and Far Eastern affairs. The rise and fall of cabinets in prewar Japan, the confidential deliberations of its highest political bodies, the tortuous path of its diplomacy, and the views of its most influential leaders have been analyzed and illuminated by jurists and scholars alike. For those who wish to retrace the road to Pearl Harbor, the signposts are indeed numerous and the way well lighted.
Not so well charted is the course taken by the Japanese Army and Navy to gain by force what the politicians and diplomats could not win by negotiation. The path is a faint one, but the journey along it rewards the traveler with an understanding of the strange mixture of reality and illusion which led Japan to attack the most powerful nations in the Pacific. It confirms and clarifies, too, the role of the military in Japan's political life, and makes clear how the needs and capacities of the Army and Navy at once established and limited national objectives and ambitions. And along this path lies the explanation for Japan's dramatic blow against Pearl Harbor and its choice of time, place, and method of attack. 
 The substance of the present essay in contained in the author's article entitled "The Japanese Decision For War," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, LXXX (December, 1954), 1325-35, copyright 1954 by U.S. Naval Institute, and is reproduced here with the Institute's permission. Other published accounts in English of the events leading to Japan's decision may be found in Herbert Feis, The Road to Pearl Harbor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950); Samuel Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Vol. III, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931-April 1942 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1948); the two volumes of William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, Challenge to Isolation (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952), and The Undeclared War, 1940-1941(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953); U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, Japan: 1931-1941 (Washington, 1943). A number of other works dealing in part with this subject will be found in the present author's critical essay on the bibliography of the Pearl Harbor attack published in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (April, 1955), 462-69.
The Army in Japan traditionally stood for a course of expansion which would make Japan the unchallenged leader of Asia. In 1936 the Army gained a predominant position in the political life of the nation and its program became the official policy of the government, and since then it had been preparing for war. The program adopted in that year called for, among other things, the establishment of a "firm position" on the Asiatic continent-a euphemistic way of saying that China must be conquered; expansion into southeast Asia to secure the bases and raw materials needed to make Japan economically strong and self-sufficient; strengthening the military forces of the nation; development of critical war industries; and the improvement of air and sea transportation. 
Though this program was to be achieved gradually and peacefully, if possible, it clearly implied military action, both in China and in southeast Asia. And to prepare for that contingency, the Japanese Government turned all its efforts into military channels. In 1936, appropriations for military expenditures rose sharply and continued to rise thereafter. The entire economy of the nation was placed under rigid controls and oriented toward war; heavy industries were expanded, the production of aircraft and munitions was increased, and every effort was made to stockpile weapons, equipment, and strategic raw materials. 
The shortage of oil was the key to Japan's military situation. It was the main problem for those preparing for war, and, at the same time, the reason why the nation was moving toward war. For the Navy the supply of oil was critical; for the Army it was always a limiting factor. And none of the measures taken to curtail civilian consumption or manufacture substitutes ever gave Japan enough of this precious commodity to free it from restraint by the Dutch, the British, and the
 International Military Tribunal of the Far East (IMTFE), Exhibit 216; Political Strategy Prior to the Outbreak of War, Part I, App. I, Japanese Studies in World War II, No. 147.  Jerome B. Cohen, Japan's Economy in War and Reconstruction (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1949) Ch. I; United States Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effect of Strategic Bombing on Japan's War Economy (Washington, 1946), p. 12; IMTFE, Judgment, Part B, pp. 114ff, 353, History of the Army Section, Imperial General Headquarters, 1941-1945, Japanese Studies in World War II, No. 72, p. 5.
Americans, who controlled the sources of supply. Without oil, Japan's pretensions to empire were empty shadows. 
Japan's move into China in July 1937, eight months after it had signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, produced further difficulties. The vigor of the Chinese reaction soon led to full-scale war, an eventuality the Japanese military neither expected nor desired. Moreover, the United States, like other nations with interests in China, refused to acquiesce in this fresh assault on the status quo in Asia. In unmistakable terms, it made clear to Japan that it still stood by the open-door policy and the territorial integrity of China. Japan's action in China was in violation of all existing treaties, and, in the American view, the only solution to the China Incident was the complete withdrawal of Japanese forces from China. This was a price the military leaders of Japan would never pay for the good will of the United States.
The war in China, from which Japan could extract neither honor nor victory, proved a continuing drain on the resources of the nation, requiring ever more stringent controls, higher appropriations, and further expansion of war industries. By the end of 1941 Japan's industry and manpower had been so completely mobilized that the transition to total war was scarcely noticed.
The growth of Japan's military forces matched its industrial growth. Between 1936 and 1941 the size of the Army more than doubled. The number of divisions rose from 20 to 50; air squadrons, from 50 to 150. And China provided the testing ground for doctrine and a reservoir of combat-trained veterans. Naval forces grew rapidly also after 1936 when Japan withdrew from the naval conference of that year. By 1940 combat tonnage had jumped to over one million tons, giving Japan a navy more powerful than the combined American and British fleets in the Pacific. 
Despite these preparations for war, neither the Army nor the Navy developed during the decade of the thirties any specific plans for the use of this formidable military machine against a coalition of western powers. In the files of the high command were general statements of policy and annual operations plans, but, except for those that concerned China, they were defensive in concept and dealt only with the United States and Soviet Russia. In no case, it was emphasized, should Japan fight more than one enemy at a time. The plans were, in the words of one Japanese officer, "outdated writings" and "utterly nonsensical." 
 USSBS, Oil in Japan's War (Washington, 1946), p. 1; IMTFE, Judgment, p. 902.  Hist Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, pp. 2-3; USSBS, Japanese Air Power (Washington, 1946), pp. 4-5; USSBS, Japanese Naval Shipbuilding (Washington, 1946), App. A.  Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, Part IV, Japanese Studies in World War II, No. 150, pp. 1-2; IMTFE, Deposition of Shinichi Tanaka, Exhibit 3027.
The absence during this period of specific plans reflecting national objectives and government policy is remarkable. The preparation of such plans is the major function of a general staff, and was routine in the United States and other democratic countries where the military was much more closely controlled than in Japan. The fact that the Japanese General Staff-which had studied in the best schools in Europe-had failed to prepare such plans as late as 1940 cannot be attributed either to peaceful intentions or to a supreme confidence in diplomacy. It was based solely on a realistic appreciation of Japan's economic weakness and lack of the strategic resources required for modern warfare.
Toward the end of 1940, after Germany had conquered most of western Europe, Japan set out to remedy its basic weaknesses by a program of expansion in southeast Asia. There, in the crumbling British, Dutch, and French empires, lay the oil, rubber, bauxite, and other vital resources Japan needed so badly. Only the United States and Soviet Russia stood in the way, and their interference, the Japanese believed, could be checkmated by political alliance. Thus, in the months that followed, Japan sought to immobilize the United States with the Tripartite Pact and to gain the friendship of Russia with a five-year pact of nonaggression and neutrality.
Simultaneously with these diplomatic and political measures, the Japanese Army and Navy began to prepare more actively for a general war while laying the basis for military action in the south. Renewed efforts were made to stockpile vital resources and in late October the Total War Research Institute was established. In December 1940 the Army ordered three divisions, then in south China, to begin training for operations in tropical areas. During the next few weeks special studies were made of the geography, terrain, and climate of Malaya, Indochina, the Netherlands Indies, Thailand, and Burma, and of the problems involved in military operations there. By January 1941 Japanese pilots were flying reconnaissance and taking aerial photographs over the Malayan coast and the Philippines, and the War Ministry and Foreign Office were printing military currency for use in the southern area. It was at this time, too, that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Combined Fleet, conceived the idea of a carrier-based air attack on Pearl Harbor and ordered his staff to work out the problems posed by such an operation.  The Japanese Army and Navy were unmistakably moving away from the defensive
 Tanaka Deposition; Imperial GHQ Army Dept Directive No. 791, 6 Dec 40, No. 810, 16 Jan 41, No. 812, 18 Jan 41, all in Imperial GHQ Army Directives, Vol. I; IMTFE, Judgment, pp. 878-81; Robert E. Ward, "The Inside Story of the Pearl Harbor Plan," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, LXXVII (December, 1951), pp. 1272-75.
concepts which had guided their planning during the preceding decade.
The summer of 1941 was the critical season for the diplomats as well as the soldiers of Japan. The war in China was still on, draining the meager oil reserves of the nation and creating an insoluble barrier to agreement with the United States. The Tripartite Pact had produced an effect opposite from that intended and erected another obstacle to an understanding between the two countries. And finally, the Dutch, backed by the Americans and British, had successfully resisted Japanese efforts to secure economic concessions in the Indies.
The German invasion of Russia in June 1941 forced the Japanese to review their program for the conquest of southeast Asia. For over a week they debated the question of the effect of Germany's action on Japan. Some thought it better to move north now rather than south; others that the time had come to make concessions and reach agreement with the United States, whose hand in the Pacific had been strengthened by the Russo-German war. President Roosevelt, who listened in on the debate through the medium of MAGIC-the code name applied to intercepted and decoded Japanese messages-characterized it as "a real drag-down and knock-out fight ... to decide which way they were going to jump-attack Russia, attack the South Seas [or] sit on the fence and be more friendly with us."  The foreign minister, Yosuke Matsuoka, favored the first course; the Army, the second; and the premier, Prince Fumimaro Konoye, the third.
On 2 July 1941, at a Conference in the Imperial Presence, the leaders of Japan made their decision. It was a clear-cut defeat for the pro-Axis foreign minister and those who believed with him that Japan should attack Russia. For the others it was a compromise of sorts. Negotiations with the United States, begun in February 1941, would be continued in an effort to settle the issues between the two countries. At the same time the plans already made for the domination of Thailand and Indochina, the first objectives in the Southern Area, would be put into effect immediately. "We will not be deterred," the Imperial Conference decreed, "by the possibility of becoming involved in a war with England and America."  In short, Japan would attempt the difficult feat of sitting on the fence and advancing south at the same time.
 Ltr, Roosevelt to Ickes, 1 Jul 41, cited in Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War 1940-1941, p. 646. The 2 July decision is included among the IMTFE Exhibits, 588; Ltr, Grew to author, 19 Jun 41, OCMH.  IMTFE, Exhibit 585. The events leading to the decision are covered in Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, Part IV, and Feis, Road to Pearl Harbor, pp. 209-19.
The problems posed by Germany's attack on Russia were hardly settled and the decision made to abide by the Tripartite Pact and the drive southward when a new crisis arose. On 21 June Cordell Hull had handed the Japanese Ambassador, Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, a note asking for some clear indication of a genuine desire for peace and making allusions to the pro-German attitude of certain members of the Japanese Government. This communication was still unanswered; and now Matsuoka insisted on outright rejection of the note and the termination of the talks. The Premier, Prince Konoye, wished instead to reply with counterproposals already prepared by the Army and Navy. Matsuoka would not budge from his position and Konoye, given the nod by War Minister General Hideki Tojo and after consultation with the Emperor, submitted the resignation of the entire cabinet on 16 July. Two days later he received the Imperial mandate to form a new cabinet which, except for Matsuoka who was replaced by Admiral Soemu Toyoda, was the same as the old one. The Japanese could now go ahead with the program outlined at the Imperial Conference of 2 July. 
The first move of the new government was the virtual occupation of French Indochina. Protesting that Indochina was being encircled, Japan issued what was in effect an ultimatum to the Vichy Government on 19 July. On the 24th Roosevelt offered to guarantee to the Japanese equal access to the raw materials and food of Indochina in return for the neutralization of that country, but nothing came of the proposal. The following day Japanese troops moved into the southern portion of Indochina. Japan now possessed strategically located air and naval bases from which to launch attacks on Singapore, the Philippines, and the Netherlands Indies.
Although the French acquiesced in this raid on their empire, the United States was not so obliging. In the view of the State Department, this fresh Japanese aggression constituted a threat to American interests in the Far East and justified the imposition of additional economic restrictions, then being-considered by the President, as a warning to Japan.  These restrictions were finally put into effect on
 IMTFE, Judgment, pp. 928-30; Feis, Road to Pearl Harbor, pp. 223- 26. The American position, which remained virtually unchanged throughout the negotiations, was outlined by Mr. Hull in four points: 1. Respect for the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of each and all nations; 2. Support of the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries; 3. Support of the principle of equality, including equality of commercial opportunity; 4. Nondisturbance of the status quo in the Pacific except as the status quo may be altered by peaceful means. Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, 79th Cong., 2d Sess., Doc 244 (Washington, 1946), p. 294. (Available online: http://omni.cc.purdue.edu/~pha/master.html, then choose "Pearl Harbor" link. LWJ)  Foreign Relations of the United States, Japan, Vol. II, p. 342.
26 July when the President, against the advice of his Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, issued an order freezing Japanese assets in the United States. Since Japan no longer had the dollars with which to purchase the urgently needed materials of war, the effect of this measure, which the British and Dutch supported, was to create an economic blockade of Japan. So seriously did Admiral Stark regard this move that he warned Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet, to take "appropriate precautionary measures against possible eventualities." 
The sharp American and British reaction to their move into Indochina came as a surprise to the Japanese and precipitated an intensive review of the nation's readiness to wage war. The picture was not encouraging. The powerful Planning Board which co-ordinated the vast, complex structure of Japan's war economy found the country's resources meager and only enough, in view of the recent action of the United States, for a quick, decisive war to gain the riches of the Indies. "If the present condition is left unchecked," asserted Teiichi Suzuki, president of the board, "Japan will find herself totally exhausted and unable to rise in the future." The blockade, he believed, would bring about Japan's collapse within two years, and he urged that a final decision on war or peace be made "without hesitation."  The Navy's view was equally gloomy. There was only enough oil, Admiral Osami Nagano told the Emperor, to maintain the fleet under war conditions for one and a half years and he was doubtful that Japan could win a "sweeping victory" in that time. His advice, therefore, was to drop the Tripartite Pact and reach agreement with the United States.
The Army and other powerful forces in the Japanese Government did not share these views. They thought there was enough oil on hand to wage war and that renunciation of the Tripartite Pact would not necessarily bring about a change in U.S.-Japanese relations. Marquis Koichi Kido, the Emperor's chief adviser, discussed the problem with Prince Konoye and agreed that before a decision on war or peace could be made, the Army and Navy would have to reach agreement.
By the middle of August the two services had agreed on a broad line of strategy. The impetus came from a series of studies presented by the Total War Research Institute, a subordinate body of the Planning Board. Forecasting the course of events during the next six months, the Institute called for the invasion of the Netherlands Indies
 Rad, CNO to CINCAF, 25 Jul 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack, Hearings Before the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack (Washington, 1946), Part 14, pp. 1400-1401.  Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, Part IV, pp. 9, 73-77.
in November, followed the next month by surprise attacks on British and American possessions in the Far East. Anticipating that the United States and Great Britain would utilize Soviet bases in a war against Japan, the Institute's studies dealt with the problems of economic mobilization; military planning, except in the most general sense, was left to the services. 
These studies, as well as others, were discussed heatedly during the tense days that followed the embargo. From these discussions emerged four alternative lines of strategy, all of them designed to accomplish the swift destruction of Allied forces in the Far last and the early seizure of the Netherlands Indies. (See Map 3.) The first was based on the Institute's studies and provided for the seizure of the Indies and then of the Philippines and Malaya. The second called for a step-by-step advance from the Philippines to Borneo, Java, Sumatra, and Malaya. The reverse, from Malaya to the Philippines, constituted a third line of action and one which would have the advantage of delaying attack against American territory. The fourth plan proposed at this time consisted of simultaneous attacks against the Philippines and Malaya followed by a rapid advance along both axes to the Indies. Admiral Yamamoto's plan for an attack against Pearl Harbor, work on which had begun in January, did not enter into the calculations of the planners at this time.
Army and Navy planners agreed that the first plan was too risky for it would leave Japanese forces exposed to attack from the Philippines and Malaya. The Navy preferred the second plan; it was safe, provided for a step-by-step advance, and created no serious problems. The Army objected to it, however, on the ground that by the time the main objectives in the Netherlands Indies and Malaya were reached the Allies would have had time to strengthen their defenses. The third plan, with its early seizure of Malaya and bypassing of the Philippines, appealed greatly to the Army planners who hoped in this way to gain southeast Asia and delay American entry into the war. But this course, as the Navy pointed out, also placed American naval and air forces in the Philippines in a strategic position athwart Japan's line of communication and constituted a risk of the utmost magnitude. The fourth course, simultaneous attacks and advance along two axes, created serious problems of co-ordination and timing and a dangerous dispersion of forces. But because it was the only course which compromised the views of both groups, it was finally adopted. For the first time the Japanese had a strategic plan for offensive operations designed to achieve the goals of national policy against a coalition of
 IMTFE, Exhibits 870, 870-A, and 871.
enemies.  Operational plans for each objective were still to be made, forces organized, trained, and rehearsed.
Though the Army and Navy had agreed on strategy, the Japanese Government was still reluctant to take the final step. Contributing to this lack of resolution was the slowing down of Germany's advance in Russia and the Japanese Navy's concern over the shortage of oil reserves. From the end of July until hiss resignation in October, Premier Konoye sought to persuade his cabinet colleagues to adopt a less aggressive policy in an effort to reach agreement with the United States.
The first sign of this new policy was a proposal, delivered by Admiral Nomura in Washington on 6 August, for a personal meeting, a "leaders' conference," between the premier and President Roosevelt. General Tojo had agreed to this proposal only on the understanding that Konoye would use the occasion to press the program for expansion to the south. The American reply on the 17th that a prerequisite to such a meeting was the settlement of the issues between the two countries confirmed Tojo and the Army leaders in their view that the United States would never yield to the Japanese demands and that war should begin as soon as the Army and Navy were ready. 
The difference between the two points of view was temporarily resolved early in September and formalized at an Imperial Conference held on the 6th of the month. The agreement, characteristically Japanese, was expressed in language which both sides could accept and interpret in their own way. The negotiations with the United States, it was agreed, would be continued, as Konoye wished. But at the same time military preparations would be pushed to completion so that the nation would be ready for war by the end of October, that is, in six weeks. "If by the early part of October," the conferees decided, "there is no reasonable hope of having our demands agreed to in the diplomatic negotiations ... we will immediately make up our minds to get ready for war ...." 
The Imperial Conference also fixed the minimum demands Japan would make and maximum concessions it would grant in the negotiations with the United States and Great Britain. The former were hardly likely to gain acceptance. First, both the Western Powers would have
 Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, Part IV, pp. 9-10.  Konoye Memoirs, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 20, pp. 3998- 4000, 4009-10; Pearl Harbor Attack Report, pp. 298, 302-07, 310; Foreign Relations of the United States, Japan, Vol. II, pp. 549-555.  Konoye Memoirs, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 20, pp. 4022-23. The wording of this important statement varies in different documents. IMTFE Defense Document 1579 gives a slightly different wording as does Judgment, Chapter VII, page 939. The Japanese phrase "Kaiseno Ketsui su" may be translated literally "decide to open hostilities." Konoye apparently did not interpret the phrase as meaning that it was a decision for war: Tojo did.
to promise to discontinue aid to China, close the Burma Road, and "neither meddle in nor interrupt" a settlement between Japan and China. Second, America and Britain would have to recognize Japan's special position in French Indochina and agree not to establish or reinforce their bases in the Far East or take any action which might threaten Japan. Finally, both nations would have to resume commercial relations with Japan, supply the materials "indispensable for her self-existence," and "gladly co-operate" in Japan's economic program in Thailand and Indochina. In return for these "minimum demands" the Japanese were willing to agree not to use Indochina as a base for further military advance, except in China, to withdraw from Indochina "after an impartial peace" had been established in the Far East, and, finally, to guarantee the neutrality of the Philippine Islands. 
While the negotiations went forward, the Army and Navy General Staffs continued their preparations for war and the troops earmarked for operations in the south intensified their training, usually under conditions approximating those of the areas in which they would fight. Since agreement had already been reached on the strategy for war, General Gen Sugiyama, Army chief of staff, was able shortly after the 6 September Imperial Conference to direct that detailed operational plans for the seizure of Malaya, Java, Borneo, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Netherlands Indies, and the Philippines be prepared.  The Army planners immediately went to work and the next two months witnessed feverish activity in the General Staff.
By the end of August the Navy planners had worked out their plans for seizing bases in the western Pacific, and had from Admiral Yamamoto a separate plan for an attack on Pearl Harbor. "Tabletop maneuvers" at Tokyo Naval War College between 10 and 13 September resulted in agreement on operations for the seizure of the Philippines, Malaya, the Netherlands Indies, Burma, and islands in the South Pacific, but there was still some doubt about Yamamoto's plan. The exercise had demonstrated that a Pearl Harbor strike was practicable, but many felt that it was too risky, that the U.S. Pacific Fleet might not be in port on the day of the attack, and that the danger of discovery during the long voyage to Hawaii was too great. But Admiral Yamamoto refused to give up his plan and finally, when he failed to convert his colleagues, offered to resign from the Navy. The combination of his strong argument that the success of the southward drive depended on the destruction of the American Fleet, his enormous prestige, and his threat to resign were too much for opponents
 Konoye Memoirs, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 20, pp. 4022-23;
IMTFE, Doc. 1652, Exhibit 588.
 IMTFE, Deposition of Shinichi Tanaka, Exhibit 2244.
of the plan. In mid-October, a month after the maneuvers, the Navy General Staff finally adopted his concept of a surprise carrier-based attack on Pearl Harbor and incorporated it into the larger plan for war. 
This larger plan, which was virtually complete by October 20 and was the one followed by the Japanese when war cane, had as its immediate objective the capture of the rich Dutch and British possessions in southeast Asia. The greatest single threat to its success was the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and this threat the Japanese now hoped to eliminate by the destruction or neutralization of the fleet at the start of war. Air and naval forces in the Philippines, which stood in position along the flank of their advance southward, the Japanese expected to destroy quickly also, seizing the islands later at their leisure. Finally, America's line of communications across the Pacific was to be cut by the capture of Wake and Guam. Once these threats had been removed and the coveted area to the south secured, Japanese military forces would occupy strategic positions in Asia and in the Pacific and fortify them immediately. These bases would form a powerful defensive perimeter around the newly acquired empire in the south, the home islands, and the vital shipping lanes connecting Japan with its new sources of supply. With these supplies the Japanese thought they could wage defensive war indefinitely. 
The area marked for conquest formed a vast triangle whose east arm stretched from the Kuril Islands in the north, through Wake, to the Marshall Islands. The base of the triangle was formed by a line connecting the Marshall Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, Java, and Sumatra. The western arm extended from Malaya and southern Burma, through Indochina, and thence along the China coast.
The acquisition of this area would give to Japan control of the resources of southeast Asia and would satisfy the national objectives in going to war. Perhaps later, if all went well, the area of conquest could be extended. But there is no evidence in the Japanese plans of an intention to invade the United States or seek the total defeat of that nation. Japan planned to fight a war of limited objectives and, having gained what it wanted, expected to negotiate for a favorable settlement.
 For a full account of the evolution of the Pearl Harbor plan see
Ward, "The Inside Story of the Pearl Harbor Plan," U.S. Naval Institute
Proceedings, LXXVII, 1272-81.
 Japanese Army-Navy Central Agreement, Nov 41, copy in USSBS, The
Campaigns of the Pacific War, pp. 43-46; Combined Fleet Top Secret Order
No. 1, copy in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 13, pp. 431-84;
Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, Part IV, pp. 47-123; Hist
Army Sec, Imperial GHQ rev. ed., pp. 29-39; History of the Southern Area
Army, 1941-1945, Japanese Studies in World War II, No. 24, pp. 4-8; Army
and Navy Directives, Imperial GHQ Directive, Vol. I.
Japanese planners anticipated that certain events might require an alteration in their strategy and outlined alternative courses of action to be followed in each contingency. The first possibility was that the negotiations then in progress in Washington would prove successful. If this unexpected success was achieved, all operations were to be suspended, even if the final order to attack had been issued. The second possibility was that the United States might take hostile action before the attack on Pearl Harbor by sending elements of the Pacific Fleet to the Far East. In that event, the Combined Fleet would be deployed to intercept American naval forces while the attacks against the Philippines and Malaya proceeded according to schedule.
The possibility of a Soviet attack, or of a joint U.S.-Soviet invasion from the north, was a specter that haunted the Japanese. To meet such a contingency, Japanese ground forces in Manchuria were to be strengthened while air units from the home islands and China were to be transferred to meet the new threat. Thereafter the attack to the south would proceed on schedule.
The forces required to execute this vast plan for conquest were very carefully calculated by Imperial General Headquarters. A large force had to be left in Manchuria, and an even larger one in China. Garrisons for Korea, Formosa, the home islands, and other positions required additional forces. Thus, only a small fraction of the Japanese Army was available for operations in the south. Of the total strength of the Army's 51 divisions, 59 mixed brigades, and 1,500 first-line planes, Imperial General Headquarters could allocate only 11 divisions and 2 air groups (700 planes) to the operations in the south.
In the execution of this complicated and intricate plan, the Japanese planners realized, success would depend on careful timing and on the closest co-operation between ground, naval, and air forces. No provision was made for unified command of all services, then or later. Instead, separate agreements were made between army and fleet commanders for each operation. These agreements provided simply for co-operation at the time of landing and for the distribution of forces.
In addition to supporting the Army's operations in the south, the Combined Fleet had other important missions. Perhaps the most important, and certainly the most spectacular, was that assigned the Pearl Harbor Striking Force. Later, this force was to support operations of the 4th Fleet in the capture of Guam and the Bismarck Archipelago, and then to assist in the southern operations. The 6th Fleet (submarines) was to operate in Hawaiian waters and along the west coast of the United States to observe the movement of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and make surprise attacks on shipping. The 5th Fleet was to patrol the waters east of Japan, in readiness for enemy surprise attacks, and, above all, keep on the alert against Russia.
The Japanese plan for war was complete in all respects but one-the date when it would go into effect. That decision awaited the outcome of the negotiations then in progress and of the struggle in the cabinet between those who advocated caution and those who pressed for immediate action. "Time had become the meter of strategy" and Japan "was crazed by the tick of the clock." 
The six weeks' reprieve Konoye had won on 6 September to settle the outstanding issues by diplomacy went quickly by without producing a settlement. A new proposal, which Nomura delivered to Hull on 27 September, was rejected by the Americans, who were unwavering in their position on China. Nomura renewed the request for a meeting between Roosevelt and Konoye but on 10 October was constrained to tell Foreign Minister Toyoda that there was not "the slightest chance on earth" of a "leaders' conference" so long as Japan refused to compromise. The negotiations, in the words of Toyoda, had "slowly but surely ... reached the decisive stage."  There was apparently no way of reconciling the basic differences over China.
The domestic situation was no better. The demands of the Army and Navy for a decision on the question of war were becoming ever more insistent. Oil stocks were steadily diminishing, the most favorable season of the year for operations was approaching, and failure to act soon might force a delay of many months and expose the Japanese to a Soviet attack on Manchuria. Finally, on 24 September, General Sugiyama and Admiral Nagano, the Army and Navy chiefs of staff, submitted a joint letter calling attention to the shortage of supplies, the effect of the weather on operations, and the problems of mobilizing, staging, and deploying their forces. "With all the force of their positions" they asked for a quick decision "by 15 October at the latest," so that they could start operations by mid-November. 
With no agreement in sight, Konoye sought to win an extension. On 12 October he invited War Minister Tojo, the Navy and Foreign Ministers, and the president of the Planning Board to his home for a final conference on the question of war and peace. At the meeting the premier argued strongly for continuing the negotiations beyond the deadline, then set at 15 October. The Navy Minister would not commit himself, but General Tojo, on the ground that success in the negotiations would require concessions in China, refused to go along;
 Feis, Road to Pearl Harbor, p. 270.  Pearl Harbor Attack Report, p. 322.  Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, Part IV, pp. 13-15.
with Konoye. The issue had now been narrowed to the withdrawal of Japanese troops from China and on the morning of the 14th the premier again sought Tojo's consent. "On this occasion," he urged the War Minister, "we ought to give in for a time ... and save ourselves from the crisis of a Japanese-American war." Tojo again refused, and at a cabinet meeting later in the day demanded that the negotiations be terminated. Finally, late that night, he sent Konoye a message stating that the cabinet ought to resign, "declare insolvent everything that has happened up to now, and reconsider our plans once more." 
Without Tojo's support Konoye had no recourse but to resign. The Army, seeking possibLy to avoid responsibility for the decision which must soon be made, suggested that his successor be a prince of the Imperial family. The suggestion was rejected as contrary to tradition and the Marquis Kido, together with the council of senior statesmen (former premiers), recommended that Tojo himself be named premier. The Emperor accepted this recommendation. On the 18th Tojo took office with an Imperial mandate to reconsider Japan's policy in relation to the world situation without regard for the 6 September decision. The fate of Japan was in the hands of its generals.
In Washington, where every Japanese move was carefully weighed and analyzed, the cabinet crisis was cause for real concern and Ambassador Joseph C. Grew's cables from Tokyo did little to lessen it. On the 16th, when Konoye resigned, Admiral Stark told Pacific and Asiatic Fleet commanders there was "a strong possibility" of war between Japan and Russia. Warning them that Japan might also attack the United States, Stark instructed the two commanders to take "due precautions." This message Admirals Hart and Husband E. Kimmel passed on to their Army colleagues, who, a few days later, received quite a different message from Washington informing them that they need not expect an "abrupt change in Japanese foreign policy."  Apparently the Army did not agree with the Navy's estimate of the international situation, and neither mentioned the possibility of an attack on Pearl Harbor.
The period from 18 October to 5 November was one of mounting tension and frantic preparations on both sides of the Pacific. In Tokyo the Tojo cabinet and the High Command, meeting in an almost continuous series of Liaison Conferences, considered every aspect of Japan's position and the possibilities of each line of action. Finally, on 5 November, a decision was reached and confirmed by a Confer
 Konoye Memoirs, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 20, p. 4010.  Memo, Gerow for CofS, 18 Oct 41, sub: Resignation of Japanese Cabinet; Rad, CNO to CINCPAC and CINCAF, 16 Oct 41, both in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 14, pp. 1389, 1402. See also Ltr, Grew to author, 19 Jun 49, OCMH.
ence in the Imperial Presence. This decision was substantially the same as that reached on 6 September: to continue negotiations in an effort to reach an agreement with the United States, and, if no settlement was reached, to open hostilities. The deadline first set was 25 November, later extended to the 29th of the month. The significance of this decision was revealed in a message the new Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo sent Admiral Nomura, in Washington, on the 4th telling him that relations between the two countries had "reached the edge." Next day he wrote that time was "exceedingly short," and the situation "very critical." "Absolutely no delays can be permitted. Please bear this in mind and do your best," Togo said. "I wish to stress this point over and over." 
The Imperial Conference agreed to make two more proposals to the United States. The first, Proposal A, was an amendment to the latest Japanese proposal and provided for a withdrawal from China and French Indochina, when and if a peace treaty was signed with Chiang Kai-shek. In certain areas in China, to be specified in the treaty, Japanese troops would remain for a "suitable period," vaguely and informally stated to be about twenty-five years. Further, the Japanese Government would interpret its obligations under the Tripartite Pact independently of the other Axis Powers. Lastly, Japan would agree not to discriminate in trade, provided all other nations did the same. In his instructions to Nomura, Foreign Minister Togo emphasized that while other matters could be compromised in his negotiations with the United States, Japan could not yield on the question of China.
In Proposal B, to be made if the first was rejected, no mention was made of the Tripartite Pact or the removal of Japanese troops from China. Japan would withdraw her troops from southern Indochina immediately and from the northern part of that country only after the negotiation of a peace treaty with Chiang Kai-shek, or after the conclusion of a "just peace" in the Pacific. In return, the United States was to agree not to interfere in the negotiations with China, and to co-operate with Japan in the acquisition and exploitation of natural resources in the Netherlands Indies. Finally, the United States was to resume commercial relations with Japan, and to provide that nation with oil. 
With the decision made and the deadline set, the Army and Navy drew up an agreement embodying the objectives of the war and an outline of operations. About the same time Admiral Nagano sent
 Dispatch, Togo to Nomura, 4 and 5 Nov 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 12, Exhibit 1, p. 92.  The text of the two proposals is reproduced in IMTFE, Exhibit 770.
Yamamoto his final orders and told him to be ready to strike "by the first part of December." During the next few weeks the fleet was readied for action, and on November 26 the Pearl Harbor Striking Force left its lonely assembly area in the snowbound Kurils and sailed due east for Hawaii. 
The Army acted with similar dispatch. On November 6 General Sugiyama issued instructions to the Southern Army, which had the task of taking the southern area, to prepare detailed plans for operations. Four days later the ranking Army and Navy officers of Southern Army and the Combined Fleet met in Tokyo to work out final arrangements for joint operations. On the 20th of November, the actual order for the attack was issued, but with the proviso that operations would not begin until the results of the diplomatic negotiations were known. 
In Washington, the privileged few followed each move of the Japanese in the mirror of MAGIC while observing in reports from all parts of the Far East increasing evidence of Japanese military preparations. Japanese ship movements toward Malaya and the concentration of shipping at Formosa, staging area for the attack on the Philippines, were quickly detected by American observers. Mr. Grew, who had reported as early has 27 January 1941 that there was talk in Tokyo of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, warned on 3 November that recent troop movements placed Japan in a position to start operations "in either Siberia or the Southwest Pacific or in both," and that war might come with "dramatic and dangerous suddenness." "Things seem to be moving steadily toward a crisis in the Pacific," wrote Admiral Stark to his Pacific Fleet commander on 7 November. A month may see, literally, most anything.... It doesn't look good." 
The first proposal agreed upon at the Imperial Conference of 5 November was handed to Mr. Hull by Ambassador Nomura two days later. On the 12th the Secretary of State told the Japanese Ambassador that the proposal was being studied and that he hoped to have a reply ready within three days. When it came, it proved to be rejection of Proposal A on the ground that the offer to withdraw troops from China and Indochina was indefinite and uncertain and that the United States could not agree to the Japanese definition of nondiscrimination in trade.
On 20 November Admiral Nomura, who now had the benefit of the advice of his colleague Saburo Kurusu, presented Proposal B, vir-
 USSBS, The Campaigns of the Pacific War, App. 12, pp. 43-46; App. 14, p. 49. The Combined Fleet Top Secret Order Number 1 is printed in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 13, pages 431-84.  Hist of Southern Army, 1941-45, pp. 4-8; Hist Army Sec, Imperial GHQ, pp. 29-39.  Telgs, Grew to Hull, 27 Jan and 3 Nov 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 14, Exhibit 15, pp. 1042, 1045-60; Ltr, CNO to Kimmel, 7 Nov 41.
tually a restatement of the "minimum demands" and "maximum concessions" of the 6 September Imperial Conference. Intercepted Japanese messages had already revealed to Mr. Hull that this was to be Japan's last offer for a settlement.  To the Secretary of State, the new Japanese offer "put conditions that would have assured Japan's domination of the Pacific, placing us in serious danger for decades to come." The commitments which the United States would have had to make were, in his opinion, "virtually a surrender." 
The problem faced by the American political and military leaders was a serious one. An outright rejection of Proposal B might well provide Japan with the pretext for war. Full acceptance was out of the question. The only way out of this dilemma was to find a "reasonable counter-proposal" or a basis for temporary agreement. In support of this view, Admiral Stark and Brig. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, who as chief of the Army War Plans Division acted for the Chief of Staff during his absence, pointed out to the Secretary of State that a modus vivendi would "attain one of our present major objectives-the avoidance of war with Japan." "Even a temporary peace in the Pacific," Gerow urged, "would permit us to complete defensive preparations in the Philippines and at the same time insure continuance of material assistance to the British-both of which are highly important." 
During the next four days, various drafts of a modus vivendi were prepared, and on the 25th the entire matter was reviewed at a meeting of the service secretaries and the Secretary of State. The general view was that the modus vivendi should be adopted, but Hull was pessimistic and expressed the view that the Japanese might "break out any time with new acts of conquest by force" and that national security now "lies in the hands of the Army and Navy."  Nor could the American Government ignore the unfavorable reaction of the Allied powers to the modus vivendi. The Chinese reaction was especially sharp, and from Chiang came a bitter protest, supported by a cable from Churchill.
The President was faced with a fateful decision. The Army and Navy wanted time to prepare for war, and were willing to buy it with minor concessions. But the slight prospect of Japanese acceptance of the modus vivendi was, in the view of the Secretary of State, hardly worth the risk of lowering Chinese morale and resistance and opening
 Rad, Tokyo to Washington, No. 812, 22 Nov 41, IMTFE, Doc. 2593, Item 17.  Cordell Hull, The Memoirs of Cordell Hull, 2 vols. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948), Vol II, p. 1069.  Memos, Stark and Gerow for Secretary of State, 21 Nov 41, in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 14, pp. 1104-07. General Marshall was attending the maneuvers in North Carolina.  Hull, Memoirs, Vol. II, p. 1180.
the way for appeasement. President Roosevelt agreed. Thus the American reply to Proposal B, handed to the Japanese Ambassador on the afternoon of the 26th, omitted the modus vivendi. 
In view of the seriousness of the situation, the Army and Navy chiefs felt that commanders in the Pacific should be warned immediately. Already, the Navy had sent out word on the 24th-to be passed on to the Army commanders-that prospects for an agreement with Japan were slight and that Japanese troop movements indicated that "a surprise aggressive movement in any direction, including attack on Philippines or Guam" was a possibility.  Now, on the 27th, Stimson asked General Gerow whether the Army should not send a warning. Gerow showed him the Navy message of the 24th, but this failed to satisfy Stimson who observed that the President wanted a warning message sent to the Philippines. As a result, a fresh warning, considered a "final alert," was sent to Hawaii, the Philippines, Panama, and San Francisco. The commander of each of these garrisons was told of the status of the negotiations with Japan, the imminence of hostilities, and the desirability of having Japan commit the "first overt act." Each was instructed to "undertake such reconnaissance and other measures" as he thought necessary and to carry out the tasks assigned in the war plan if hostilities occurred. With the exception of MacArthur, each of the commanders was also warned not to alarm the civilian population or to "disclose intent." At the same time G-2 of the War Department sent an additional and briefer message to Hawaii and Panama, but not to the Philippines, warning against subversive activities.
The Navy warning of the 27th, which was passed on to the Army commanders, was more strongly worded and definitely an alert for war. "This dispatch," it read, "is to be considered a war warning ... and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days." Navy commanders were alerted to the likelihood of amphibious operations against either the Philippines, the Kra Peninsula, or Borneo and instructed to "execute an appropriate defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out the tasks assigned in their war plans." The possibility of attack on Pearl Harbor was not mentioned in either message.
 Foreign Relations of the United States, Japan, Vol II, pp. 766-70; Hull, Memoirs, II, 107-82; Pearl Harbor Attack Report, pp. 35-43.  Rad, Op NAV to Comdrs Pacific and Asiatic Fleets, 242005 Nov 41, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 14, p. 1405.  Memo, Gerow for Marshall, 27 Nov 41, sub: Far Eastern Situation; Rads, Marshall to CG USAFFE, Hawaiian Dept, Carib Def Comd, Nos. 624, 472, 451, 27 Nov 41, OCS 18136-118 and WPD 4544-16; Miles to G-2 Hawaiian Dept, No. 472, 27 Nov 41. Most of these are published in Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 3, page 1021, Part 14, pages 1328-30. Stimson's account of these events is in Part 39, page 84. The Navy message is in Part 14, page 1406. See also Pearl Harbor Attack Report, pp. 199-201.
Though the date 26 November marked the real end of negotiations, the Japanese were not yet ready to go to war. On the 27th a Liaison Conference summarily rejected the American note. But to gain a few days, the Japanese instructed Nomura and Kurusu on the 28th to do their best to keep the conversation open. Now, on the 30th, Tojo presented the cabinet view for war, but even at this late date several of the senior statesmen expressed doubts about the wisdom of a war with the United States. Konoye asked why it was not possible to continue "with broken economic relations but without war," to which Tojo replied that the final consequence of such a course would be "gradual impoverishment."  Later that day the same group met with the Emperor and each man presented his views. Already the force scheduled to attack Pearl Harbor was on its way across the North Pacific and elements of the Southern Army were assembling for their various attacks.
Final details for the opening of hostilities were completed on the 30th at a meeting of the Liaison Conference. At that time the attack on Pearl Harbor was discussed and agreement reached on the form and substance of the note which would formally end the negotiations and sever the relations between the two countries. Hostilities would follow but no declaration of war, it was decided, would be made in advance. The timing of the Japanese reply to Hull's note was discussed also and it was agreed that the Naval Staff would make the decision in order to gain the fullest advantage of surprise at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere. 
The decisions of the Liaison Conference were formalized and sanctioned by the council in the Imperial Presence on 1 December. Tojo, who presided at the meeting, explained the purpose of the conference. Then the ministers and the chiefs of staff discussed the question of war with the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. The vote was unanimously for war. "Our negotiations with the United States regarding the execution of our national policy, adopted 5 November, have finally failed," reads the record of the meeting. "Japan will open hostilities against the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands." The Emperor spoke not a single word during the meeting.
All was in readiness; only the date for the start of war remained to be fixed and that was quickly decided. The 8th of December (Japanese Standard Time) was the date selected and on the 2d the Army and Navy chiefs passed this information on to the forces moving into
 Konoye Memoirs, Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings, Part 20, p. 4012.  IMTFE, Exhibits 2954 and 2955, Depositions of Tojo and Togo.  IMTFE, Exhibit 588, Doc. 1652, Records of Imperial Conferences.
position for the attack. But on the slim chance that by a miracle the United States would agree to the Japanese terms, the Navy chief of staff added that should an amicable settlement be reached "all forces of the Combined Fleet are to be ordered to reassemble and return to their bases." From Admiral Yamamoto's flagship at the Kure naval base went the message Niitaka Yama Nobore (Climb Mount Niitaka), the prearranged signal for the attack on Pearl Harbor. 
Various considerations underlay the choice of so early a date. Both the Army and Navy felt that delay would be disastrous. By March 1942 America's naval superiority as well as the reinforcements in the Philippines would make the plan extremely hazardous, if not impossible of execution. Moreover, by that time the Americans and British would have completed their preparations in the Philippines and Malaya. Weather, too, was a decisive consideration in the Japanese plan. The conquest of Malaya would require five months and would have to be completed by spring, the best time for military operations in Manchuria in the event that Russia should decide to attack. Finally, December and January were favorable months for amphibious operations in the Philippines and elsewhere, with the tide and moon favoring the attacker.
In arriving at their decision for war, the Japanese gave little or no thought to the interests and desires of their Axis partners. Carefully they kept their plans secret from Mussolini and Hitler, although Hitler at least would have greatly preferred a Japanese attack on Soviet Russia or the British base at Singapore. Only on the 4th, three days after the decision for war was made, did the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin hint at the possibility of early hostilities when he cautiously inquired whether the German Government would declare war on the United States if Japan moved first, a contingency that was not covered in the Tripartite Pact. Even then Hitler suspected nothing and so little did the Japanese regard his wishes that they did not make an official request for a declaration of war until the afternoon of the 8th. 
The first week of December 1941 was one of strain and nervous tension in Tokyo and of suspense and somber watchfulness in Washington. The signs of an early break were too clear to be missed by
 These messages are reproduced in USSBS, The Campaigns of the Pacific War, page 51 and elsewhere.
 Feis, Road to Pearl Harbor, p. 331; ,Langer and Gleason, The Undeclared War, pp. 910-11; The Ciano Diaries, 1939-1943, edited by Hugh Gibson (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1946), entries for 3 and 4 December 1941. On 30 November, Foreign Minister Togo had told his Ambassador in Berlin that "war may suddenly break out between the Anglo-Saxon nations and Japan ... quicker than anyone dreams." Quoted in Feis, Road to Pearl Harbor, p. 336.
those who could read the intercepted Japanese messages and intelligence reports but there was no realization of the danger to Pearl Harbor. Nomura and Kurusu saw Hull several times, but both sides knew nothing could come of these meetings. On the 4th, Thursday, Congress adjourned for a long weekend. Next day the Japanese Embassy began to leave Washington and Nomura reported to his home office the partial destruction of codes.
On 6 December President Roosevelt composed a last-minute plea for peace to the Emperor. On the same day a Liaison Conference in Tokyo approved the decision to have Nomura deliver Japan's final note at 1300 the next day, thirty minutes before the scheduled launching of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This note, in fourteen parts, began to arrive in Washington late on the 6th. Thirteen of the fourteen parts of the message were in American hands that night, together with reports of two large Japanese convoys off Indochina, headed south. Unidentified aircraft, presumably Japanese, had been observed over Luzon where by this time a full air alert was in effect and where the troops had already moved into defensive positions along the beaches. In Manila, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, alarmed over Japanese movements, was just leaving for his flagship Prince of Wales after concluding arrangements with Hart and MacArthur for concerted naval action in the event of an attack.
That same day, 6 December, the Japanese forces were rapidly approaching their destinations. The Pearl Harbor Striking Force after a voyage across the Pacific was heading southeast for the final run and, at 2300 (Washington time), was about 600 miles north of Oahu. On Formosa airfields were the planes for the attack on Clark Field, and the troops scheduled to seize advance airfields in the Philippines had already left staging areas in Formosa and the Pescadores. The invasion force for Guam was in position fifty miles north of the island and the Wake force stood ready at Kwajalein. Advance units of the Japanese 25th Army had left Hainan in two convoys on 4 December on their way to Malaya and on the 6th were nearing southern Thailand and Khota Baru.
On the morning of the 7th, Sunday, the fourteenth and last part of the final Japanese note was in American hands. Though it did not indicate when or where war would start, its intent was clear. A short time later two additional messages were intercepted. Taken with the fourteen-part note breaking off the negotiations, they were starkly revealing. One instructed the Japanese Ambassador to destroy the code machines and secret documents; the other, to deliver the fourteen-part message at 1300 (Washington time). At 1030 that morning Stimson and Knox went to Hull's office where they were closeted for well over an hour and at 1230 the President received the Chinese Am-
bassador to whom he read his note of the day before to the Emperor. "This is," he told Hu Shih, "my last effort for peace. I am afraid it may fail." 
General Marshall spent Sunday morning on the bridle path and reached his office about 1100. The intercepted message giving the deadline (0730 Hawaiian time) for delivery of the fourteen-part note struck him as significant and he suggested to Admiral Stark that an additional warning be sent to the Pacific. He then composed a message to the commanders in Hawaii, the Philippines, Panama, and San Francisco telling them that the Japanese were destroying their coding machines and would present at 1300 "what amounts to an ultimatum." "Just what significance the hour set may have," he added, "we do not know, but be on alert accordingly." Declining an offer from Admiral Stark for the use of the Navy's radio, Marshall turned the message over to an officer for transmission over the Army's network and was assured shortly before noon that it would be delivered in thirty minutes. By a series of ironical circumstances and unexpected delays the message to Hawaii was in turn entrusted to commercial telegraph and radio and then to a bicycle messenger who, on his way from Honolulu to Fort Shafter, was caught in the attack with his still encoded message. 
President Roosevelt's personal note to the Emperor reached Tokyo at noon of the 7th (Tokyo time), but was not delivered to Ambassador Grew until 2100 that night. Shortly after midnight (about 1100 of the 7th, Washington time), he called on the Foreign Minister to request an audience with the Emperor, but Togo said he would deliver the message himself. Meanwhile Ambassador Nomura had made an appointment to see Mr. Hull at 1345. He and Kurusu arrived at the State Department a half hour late and were admitted to Hull's office at 1420, only a few minutes after the Secretary had received a telephone call from the President telling him of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese emissaries handed the secretary the fourteen-part note, which he already had on his desk. Mr. Hull, after pretending to read the note, turned to the two envoys. "In all my fifty years of public service," he said with feeling, "I have never seen a document that was more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions-infamous falsehoods and distortions on a scale so huge that I never imagined until today that any Government on this planet was capable of uttering them."  The Japanese left without making any comment.
In Tokyo, Ambassador Grew received from Foreign Minister Togo the Japanese fourteen-part note breaking off the negotiations about
 Feis, Road to Pearl Harbor, p. 340.
 Pearl Harbor Attack Report, pp. 219-28.
 Pearl Harbor Attack Report, p. 41.
four hours later (approximately 0800, Tokyo time). Later that morning, after Japanese bombs had fallen on Hawaii, Guam, and Wake, after Japanese forces had attacked the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and Japanese troops had landed in Malaya, Mr. Grew received an announcement that a state of war existed between Japan and the United States. Around noon General Tojo read to "a stunned and silent nation" the Imperial Rescript declaring war. The broadcast closed on the martial strains of "Umi Yukaba".
Across the sea, corpses in the water; Across the mountain, corpses in the field. I shall die only for the Emperor, I shall never look back.
From the vantage point of hindsight, Japan's decision to go to war appears as a supreme act of folly. By this decision the Japanese leaders appear to have deliberately committed their country to a hopeless struggle against a combination of powers vastly superior in potential industrial and military strength. This view has perhaps been most effectively presented by Admiral Morison who characterized the Pearl Harbor attack which brought the United States into the war as a politically disastrous and strategically idiotic move. "One can search military history in vain," concluded Morison, "for an operation more fatal to the aggressor." 
But to the Japanese, their decision, though it involved risks, was not a reckless and foolhardy one. It was based, for one thing, on the expectation that the United States would prefer to negotiate rather than fight. The Japanese leaders fully appreciated the industrial potential of the United States and that nation's ability to fight a major war on two fronts. But they had to accept this risk, as General Tojo said, "in order to tide over the present crisis for self-existence and self-defense." 
The Japanese, it must be emphasized, did not seek the total defeat of the United States and had no intention of invading this country. They planned to fight a war of limited objectives and having once secured these objectives to set up a defense in such depth that the United States would find a settlement favorable to Japan an attractive alternative to a long and costly war. To the Japanese leaders this seemed an entirely reasonable view. But there were fallacies in this con-
 Samuel Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in
World War II, Vol. III, The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931-April 1942
(Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1948), p. 132.
 Political Strategy Prior to Outbreak of War, Part V, p. 37.
cept which Admiral Yamamoto had pointed out when he wrote that it would not be enough "to take Guam and the Philippines, not even Hawaii and San Francisco." To gain victory, he warned his countrymen, they would have "to march into Washington and sign the treaty in the White House."  Here was a lesson about limited wars that went unheeded then and is still often neglected.
Perhaps the major Japanese error was the decision to attack the United States at all. The strategic objectives of the Japanese lay in southeast Asia and if they had limited their attacks to British and Dutch territory the United States might not have entered the war. Such a course would have involved risks but it would have forced the United States to act first. And there was, in 1941, strong opposition to a move that would have appeared to a large part of the American people as an effort to pull British and Dutch chestnuts out of the fire. As it was, the Japanese relieved the Roosevelt administration of the necessity of making a very difficult choice. The alternatives it faced in December 1941, when the Japanese were clearly moving southward, were either to seek from Congress a declaration of war if Japan attacked the British and the Dutch in southeast Asia or to stand by idly while the Japanese secured the rich resources of Malaya and the Indies which would enable them to prosecute the war in China vigorously to an early end. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with one blow resolved all the problems and mobilized the American people as nothing else could have done. 
The Japanese based much of their hope for success on the situation in Europe. The war there favored their plans and they saw little possibility of an early peace. Germany, they believed, would defeat Russia, or at least gain military domination of the European continent, but they doubted that the Germans would be able to launch a successful invasion of England. At any rate, it was clear that both the British and Russians would be too preoccupied in Europe for some time to come to devote their attention to the Far East. The
 Masuo Kato, The Lost War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), p. 89.  Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 390. Evidence on public opinion is not conclusive. A Gallup poll reported in The New York Times for February 23, 1941 found that although 56 percent of those polled were in favor of an effort "to keep Japan from seizing the Dutch East Indies and Singapore," only 39 percent supported risking war in such an attempt. Again, in August 1941, a Fortune poll showed that 33.7 percent of those polled were in favor of defending the Philippines, East Indies, and Australia, and only 22.3 percent favored the defense of an unspecified portion of this area. The conclusion of John W. Masland, writing in 1941, was that "powerful commercial interests and articulate isolationist pressure groups" opposed American opposition to Japan. John W Masland, "American Attitudes Toward Japan," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (May 1941), p. 165. See also Public Opinion, 1935-1946, prepared by Mildred Strunk under the editorial direction of Hadley Cantril (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951) p. 1077.
United States had an important stake in Europe, too, and would be unwilling to concentrate its forces in the Pacific, the Japanese estimated, so long as the outcome in Europe remained in doubt.
The possibility of avoiding war with the United States was seriously considered and discussed at length in Tokyo, but the Japanese were apparently convinced that if they moved south the United States would go to war. Their only hope lay in knocking out the fleet and removing the Philippine threat so that the United States would be unable to take offensive action for eighteen months to two years. By that time, the Japanese estimated, they would have secured the southern area and established themselves firmly behind a strong outer line of defense. With the resources thus won-such as oil, rubber, bauxite-they would be in a position to wage defensive warfare almost indefinitely. The United States, they reasoned, would be unable to sustain the major effort required to break through this defensive screen in the face of the losses imposed by a determined and well-trained foe. As a result, the Japanese leaders felt justified in their hopes that the United States would be forced to compromise and allow Japan to retain a substantial portion of her gains, thus leaving the nation in a dominant position in Asia.
This plan was not entirely unrealistic in 1941, but it completely overlooked the American reaction to Pearl Harbor and the refusal of the United States to fight a limited war-or Japan's ability to so limit it. The risks were recognized, but the alternatives were not estimated correctly. Yet, even had the Japanese appreciated fully the extent of the risks, they would probably have made the same decision. To them, correctly or incorrectly, the only choice was submission or war, and they chose the latter in the hope that their initial advantages and the rapid conquest of southern Asia would offset the enormous industrial and military potential of the enemy.
In the final analysis, the Japanese decision for war was the result of the conviction, supported by the economic measures imposed by the United States and America's policy in China, that the United States was determined to reduce Japan to a position of secondary importance. The nation, Tojo and his supporters felt, was doomed if it did not meet the challenge. In their view, Japan had no alternative but to go to war while she still had the power to do so. She might lose, but defeat was better than humiliation and submission. "Japan entered the war," wrote a prince of the Imperial family, "with a tragic determination and in desperate self-abandonment." If it lost, "there will be nothing to regret because she is doomed to collapse even without war." 
 Statement of Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni, 9 Jun 49, ATIS, G-2 FEC, copy in OCMH.