Background of the Peace Movement

In early August of 1945, Japan strove to complete preparations for a final supreme effort to repel an invasion of the home islands. At the same time a crucial internal struggle on the highest plane of the nation's political leadership was about to culminate in a decision to avert national destruction through the acceptance of Allied surrender terms.1

The earliest tangible development in the political evolution toward peace occurred in September 1943. At that time, a small group of the so-called jushin,2 or "senior statesmen" acting on the initiative of ex-Premier Admiral (ret.) Keisuke Okada, requested Premier Hideki Tojo to sit down with them in a frank discussion of the war situation.3 The veiled purpose of this move was to discredit the Tojo regime with the ultimate objective of forcing its retirement. Admiral Okada, the prime instigator, believed that a general peace would be impossible as long as Tojo remained in office.

Already, by this date, the successive defeats suffered by the Japanese forces in the Southwest Pacific were beginning to have repercussions at home, despite attempts by the Government and High Command to conceal them. In Europe, Italy had dropped out of the war, and the military fortunes of Germany, Japan's sole remaining ally, were already on the wane. These factors, coupled with deteriorating economic conditions at home, steadily undermined Tojo's popularity. An under current of dissatisfaction with existing leadership began to take shape in February 1944 when Premier Tojo and Navy Minister Shigetaro Shimada moved to tighten their control of the fighting services by assuming concurrently the posts of chiefs, respectively, of the Army and Navy General Staffs.4

The senior statesmen not only were influenced by these trends but secretly exploited them. By late spring of 1944, they had gained sufficient strength and confidence to urge their views more strongly. In mid July the disastrous loss of Saipan gave them an opportunity to


press for the resignation of the Tojo Government. Tojo realizing the graveness of the situation tried to settle it by reorganizing his Cabinet but this attempt failed and found himself without the support of the Emperor. This blow was fatal.5

On 18 July simultaneously with the public announcement of the fall of Saipan, General Tojo resigned with his entire Cabinet to end 33 months' continuous tenure of the premiership. The collapse of his Government marked an important political turning point of the war. The jushin had made their influence felt.6

The Tojo Ministry was succeeded by a government headed jointly by General (ret.) Kuniaki Koiso, and Admiral (ret.) Mitsumasa Yonai, a former Premier and well-known Navy moderate. Despite the cabinet change, however, a fundamental political shake-up such as was required to pave the way for any real peace endeavor had not been effected.

In the first place, although the Emperor had charged Koiso and Yonai with joint leadership of the new Government, Koiso was given the premiership. The hope was that he would succeed in establishing a national Cabinet, coordinate effectively political and military leaders, and maintain close liaison with the key fighting service. Furthermore, the Army consented to place its nominee, Field Marshal Sugiyama, in the Cabinet as War Minister on the condition that the new Government would continue the vigorous and determined prosecution of the war.7

Nevertheless, an initial success had been secured. In Admiral Yonai, who was himself a member of their group, the jushin now had a strong sympathizer in the Cabinet. Yonai, in accordance with the Emperor's mandate, took the post of Deputy Premier. More important, he assumed the concurrent post of Navy Minister, which automatically entitled him to first-hand information regarding the war situation and the plans and decisions of the Navy High Command.8

Although Yonai was the jushin's greatest hope in the new Cabinet, Premier Koiso himself was not always optimistic about the war. He believed that the wisest course lay in first attempting to wean China away from the Allied camp by means of a separate peace, and then seeking the mediation of the Soviet Union or some other neutral with a view to a general peace settlement on favorable terms. Before initiating any such move, however, he felt that it was essential to score one substantial military success in the field in order to improve Japan's bargaining position.9

With this end in view, Koiso devoted his first efforts to reinforcing the national war effort.


Soon after assuming office, he supplanted the old Liaison Conference between Imperial General Headquarters and the Government by a new Supreme War Direction Council.10 The purpose of this body, in which key members of the Cabinet sat together with representatives of the High Command, was to assure full coordination of the civil and military branches of the Government. The Council, however, failed to achieve the results which Premier Koiso expected, and he discovered that he was unable to obtain all the military information he desired.

Despite the expectations of the jushin, the Koiso Cabinet's official policy continued to be one for all-out prosecution of the war. An Imperial conference held on 19 August formally adopted a basic policy declaration which emphatically stated that the war would be prosecuted to the end regardless of continued enemy successes or of unfavorable international developments. Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu prevailed upon the conference not to exclude diplomatic action designed to improve Japan's positions, notably by strengthening relations with the Soviet Union.11 However, the military success which Premier Koiso deemed a prerequisite to any broad peace maneuver was still unrealized, and the situation remained at a stalemate.

In the fall of 1944, Koiso hoped that the Sho-Go Operations might bring the victory needed to pave the way for a peace attempt. His hope was soon shattered by events. The all-out effort of the sea and air forces to smash the enemy invasion of Leyte in October ended in failure, and in less than two months General MacArthur's forces had won a secure foothold in the central Philippines. On the diplomatic front, a proffer to dispatch a special mission to Moscow to begin the task of cementing Japanese-Soviet relations had meanwhile been rebuffed by the Soviet Government.12

Japan therefore faced a darker situation than ever before as the year 1945 began. So gloomy were the prospects that the Emperor himself felt impelled to reveal to the jushin his anxiety for an early peace. Early in January, when the enemy invaded Luzon and American carrier forces boldly swept Japanese shipping in the South China Sea, the Emperor told Marquis Kido, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, to arrange audiences with the jushin.13

Early in February these confidential meetings got under way. Because of fear that any inkling of their purpose might arouse opposition, extreme precautions were taken. No formal audience was granted to the jushin collectively. Instead, they were individually summoned to the Palace at different times, ostensibly for the purpose of paying their normal mid-winter respects to the Throne.14


Between 7 and 26 February, the Emperor conferred with seven senior statesmen, including ex-Premier Tojo and former Lord Privy Seal Count Nobuyuki Makino. The senior statesmen were unanimous in sharing the Emperor's deep concern over the trend of the war. Tojo, however, was the most optimistic, while Prince Konoye and Admiral Okada were the most pessimistic. Prince Konoye bluntly stated that Japan faced certain defeat and urged the Emperor to take resolute steps toward peace.15

The audiences marked a significant milestone on the road toward peace. For the first time since the outbreak of the war, the Emperor had held a free exchange of views with the majority of the jushin. More important, the advocates of peace now had a clear indication that the Emperor himself was strongly sympathetic towards their views. With this encouragement, they quietly waited for a fresh opportunity to advance the cause of peace.

During the next two months the Koiso Cabinet continued to fare badly on both the military and diplomatic fronts. While General MacArthur's forces made rapid headway on Luzon, the Pacific prong of the enemy's offen sive swiftly overwhelmed Iwo Jima and then, on 1 April, thrust at Okinawa in the Ryukyus. On the diplomatic front, relations with Soviet Russia tended to worsen rather than improve, and Premier Koiso's hopes of winning China away from the Allies through peace overtures to Chungking remained unrealized.16

In spite of serious efforts, the Koiso Cabinet was unable to show any positive achievement. The Cabinet as a whole was unpopular. The war situation failed to improve and the Premier himself was unable to coordinate the political, diplomatic and military fronts. By the latter part of March, he had decided that it was useless to remain in office unless this situation was promptly remedied.

Early in April, the Army proposed to relieve Field Marshal Sugiyama of his post as War Minister and to replace him by General Korechika Anami. Koiso promptly decided upon a final effort to strengthen his position and proposed that, instead of substituting Anami, the Army agree to his own assumption of the war portfolio concurrently with the premiership. On 3 April Koiso intimated his hopes to Sugiyama, but the answer of the Army "Big Three" was a blunt refusal.17

Convinced that his position was no longer tenable, Premier Koiso tendered the collective resignation of the Cabinet on 5 April. Even as he did so, the complete failure of the diplomatic policies pursued by his Government was being underlined in Moscow by a blunt notification to the Japanese Ambassador, Naotake Sato, of the Soviet Government's intention to abrogate the Soviet Japanese neutrality pact because it had "lost its significance."18

In relinquishing the premiership, Koiso made it plain that, under the circumstances confronting the nation, he considered it absolutely essential to install " an Imperial General Headquarters Cabinet." To all practical intents and purposes, this meant " a Cabinet in which the Premier assumes an influential


position in the Imperial General Headquarters to direct the conduct of the war.19

Obviously, however, the idea of installing an "Imperial General Headquarters Cabinet" did not conform to the ideas of the peace proponents among the jushin, nor did it conform to the wishes of all elements in the Japanese Army and Navy. Some of the jushin, notably Okada and Konoye, had already laid their plans for an attempt to install a cabinet which would offer greater possibilities for the realization of peace. In this delicate undertaking, they had the powerful support of Marquis Kido, the Emperor's closest advisor, who henceforth was to play a leading role in the struggle to attain the peace objective.

Formation of the Suzuki Cabinet

At 1700 on 5 April, less than seven hours after Premier Koiso had formally tendered the Cabinet's resignation to the Emperor, the jushin met in conference with Marquis Kido to deliberate on whom they should recommend to the Throne as head of the next Government. Six former Premiers, among them General Tojo, assembled at the Imperial Palace to attend this crucial meeting. The conference also included the president of the Privy Council, Admiral (ret.) Baron Kantaro Suzuki.20

The choice before the conference was both grave and delicate. With Okinawa already invaded and German resistance in Europe nearing complete collapse, it was certain that the Allies would soon begin massing their concerted forces for the final assault upon Japan itself. It was imperative in view of the complex and serious military and political problems that faced Japan that the proper man be chosen. Since the collapse of the Koiso Cabinet was foreseen in advance, the leaders of the peace group had ample time to consider all aspects of the question.

By 5 April, when the conference of senior statesmen convened, they had not only reached an understanding among themselves concerning their choice for Premier but they had also obtained assurance of the approval of Kido himself. Their unanimous decision was that only one man filled the exacting requirements essential to the success of their plans. That man was Admiral Suzuki, the 77 year old president of the Privy Council.

Admiral Suzuki's background unquestion ably fitted him for the role which the peace group wanted him to play. His active naval career had ended in 1929 when, at the specific request of the Emperor, he had stepped down as Chief of Navy General Staff to become Grand Chamberlain, a post of advisorship to the Throne second only to that of Lord Privy Seal. After seven years in this position, he had barely escaped death by assassins' bullets in the abortive military uprising of 26 February 1936, one of the aims of which was the elimination of moderate influences around the Throne.21


The Emperor had then relieved him of his duties as Grand Chamberlain, and Suzuki had subsequently held no post other than membership of the non-political and largely inactive Privy Council. He had risen to its presidency late in 1944.

The important thing about Suzuki's record was that, while it generally stamped him as a man of moderate ideas, it contained nothing which put him in the camp of the peace advocates. Thus, although some extremist elements were bound to regard him with suspicion, they could find few concrete charges to level against him. There was no doubt, moreover, that Suzuki possessed the full confidence and trust of the Emperor.22 The fact alone would go far to assure his Cabinet of popular support.

In spite of this understanding among the members of the peace group and Marquis Kido, the conference of the senior statesmen on 5 April lasted three hours and was marked by weighty discussion of the problem of peace or war as well as the premiership. At the very outset, General Tojo demanded that the conference first decide on the basic issue of peace or continuation of the war: "The next Cabinet must be the last Cabinet in this war," he said. "There prevails within the country today, two views-one, that we would continue the war to the bitter end, and the other, that we should meekly accept the terms of unconditional surrender and sue for peace as soon as possible. It is necessary that we settle this question first."23 Baron Wakatsuki did not entirely agree with Tojo: "The Council of Senior Statesmen is consulted only in the selection of the premier-designate. The suggestion brought up by Tojo is beyond the scope of this conference." At the same time, he warned however: "The new Cabinet must win the war. If we should propose peace now, it is clear that our ultimate fate will be unconditional surrender."24

Hiranuma on the other hand agreed with Tojo in principle: "The selection of the new Premier had an intimate and important bearing on the question of peace or continued resistance. The new Premier must be a man who will fight to the end. We cannot nominate an end-the-war peace advocate."25 The peace faction, thus, refused to disclose their hand, either side-stepping the issue on the ground that it lay outside the province of the jushin, or unctuously supporting Tojo's contention that the new Cabinet must carry on the war to the bitter end. Suzuki, himself, unaware that he was being considered by the peace group, agreed, before his own name had been placed in nomination, that the next Premier must possess the "will to fight to the last."26

Underlying the deliberations of the conference, however, was the well-phrased remark voiced earlier by Admiral Okada, that the next Cabinet might have to "shoulder the nation's destiny to the end."27

This remark by a leading member of the jushin peace group was a veiled clue to the group's real intent, the installation of a cabinet oriented toward the earliest possible termination of the war. Admiral Okada and his associates


felt that now, at last, they had reasonable hopes of attaining this difficult objective. The main opposition they had to face within the conference of senior statesmen itself was that of General Tojo. Far more important, Army popularity, under the impact of successive military reverses overseas and mounting war suffering at home, had reached its lowest ebb since the outbreak of hostilities. There was consequently less probability that the Army would insist upon installing a candidate of its own for premiership.28

Still, the leaders of the peace group realized that they must play their hand with the utmost caution. No one could yet advocate peace openly. Moreover, if the peace group aggressively advocated a Premier who was obviously from their own camp, there was danger that some extremist elements would either block the formation of such a cabinet or sabotage its efforts once it was installed. The problem of the peace advocates, therefore, lay in finding a candidate who would fulfill all the difficult requirements for the premiership. From their own viewpoint, he must be essentially a moderate whom they could influence toward accepting their thesis that the nation's best interest lay in seeking an early peace. On the other hand, he must be a person who would minimize the possibilities of inviting suspicion from the extremist elements; lastly and very important, he must be someone free of political ties or past commitments which would brand him as an opponent of the war.

These three basic requirements were absolutely essential, but there were others almost equally as vital. It was important too that the next Premier possess the stature necessary to restore public confidence in the national leadership and secure united obedience to the decisions of the Government. On this, perhaps, the civilian peace group and the military were in full agreement, with different objectives, however, in mind. It was also of particular importance to the plans of the peace faction that the Premier be someone whose loyalty to the Throne was outstanding and in whom the Emperor reposed implicit trust. The reason for this lay in the fact that the peace group clearly saw the necessity of making the Emperor's will for peace a decisive factor in the realization of their objective.

It was not until the discussions were well along that Baron Hiranuma finally proposed Suzuki. The latter protested that he did not want the nomination, but the peace group unitedly backed Hiranuma's suggestion, as did Marquis Kido. General Tojo, supported only by Hirota, strongly insisted that the fighting of the homeland battle required an Army man as Premier and stated that he considered Marshal Hata the best choice. Unless the senior statesmen took care, he warned, the Army might turn its back upon the new Cabinet.29


Tojo's blunt words precipitated the only heated exchange of the three-hour conference. Marquis Kido retorted that, were an Army man to take the premiership in disregard of the strong anti-militarist sentiment in the country, it might be the people that would "turn its back." Admiral Okada, siding with Kido, pointedly asked Tojo what he meant by saying that the Army, whose duty was to defend the nation, might refuse to support a Premier who had duly received the Emperor's mandate.30

Despite these arguments the conference had served its purpose. Marquis Kido had heard the views of everyone present, and it was clear that Suzuki was the choice of the majority. The only obstacle lay in persuading Suzuki to accept the nomination.

Marquis Kido convinced Suzuki to become Premier in a private talk with him after the jushin meeting. Their discussion was of the highest importance, for in it Kido referred obliquely to the necessity of a "volte-face in policy" in view of the grave war situation. Suzuki replied that, if commanded to assume the premiership, he would do his best to fulfill the Emperor's wishes.31 Kido then submitted his recommendation to the Throne, and at 2200 the Emperor received Admiral Suzuki in audience and gave him the Imperial mandate to form a cabinet. His Majesty seized the occasion to emphasize his deep concern over the trend of the war, but he judiciously refrained from binding the hands of the premier-designate by an explicit request for early peace.32

Admiral Suzuki thus embarked on the formation of his Cabinet free from any rigid policy commitment but at the same time well aware of the over-all mission which the Emperor desired the Cabinet to carry out.33 He now faced the task of obtaining the Army's cooperation. Failure in this would mean the prompt collapse of his efforts to form a government.

As General Tojo's remarks at the jushin


conference had forewarned, there was indeed an undercurrent of opposition to Suzuki's appointment among the extremist elements in the military. The rumor was that Suzuki would establish a Japanese "Badoglio Government." Actually, some desired a cabinet headed by General Korechika Anami, Inspectorate General of Army Aviation and ex-commander of the Second Area Army, who had already been slated to succeed Marshal Sugiyama as War Minister just prior to the fall of the Koiso Cabinet. The Cabinet's resignation, however, occurred before the change-over had been effected.

Following established practice, the Army imposed certain conditions for its cooperation in forming a cabinet. The Army's conditions were, in fact, drawn up in the War Ministry's Military Affairs Bureau, some of the members of which shared the extremists' strong suspicion of Suzuki's intentions. The conditions laid down were:34

1. Prosecution of the war to the finish.

2. Formation of a cabinet such as to assure the earliest possible unification of the Army and Navy.

3. Prompt execution of measures desired by the Army to assure victory in the decisive battle of the homeland.

All three stipulations had the same essential purpose: to prevent any peace designs on the part of the premier-designate. The outgoing War Minister, Field Marshal Sugiyama, approved the conditions in toto as drafted in the Military Affairs Bureau, and presented them to Admiral Suzuki on 6 April, when the latter called to request the Army's cooperation in forming the new cabinet.35 In this talk with Marshal Sugiyama, Admiral Suzuki agreed to the Army's terms.36 The premier-designate could not ignore the fact that if he took issue with the Army at this stage it would undoubtedly result in his failure to form a cabinet. Suzuki's sole hope of success lay in accepting the Army's conditions.

As it was previously decided, the Army promptly recommended General Anami as War Minister in the new Cabinet. This choice actually coincided with Admiral Suzuki's own desires. Concurrently with Suzuki's tenure as Grand Chamberlain, General Anami had served as Military Aide-de-Camp to the Emperor, and the two men respected and liked each other. Suzuki felt that he would have less difficulty in cooperating with Anami than with any other nominee the Army might have advanced to fill the vital war portfolio.

The next problem was the choice of a Navy Minister. Admiral Suzuki who was leaning heavily on the advice of Admiral Okada in regard to the formation of the Cabinet,37 strongly desired Admiral Yonai to retain the naval portfolio. The Navy's choice was Admiral


Yonai, though Yonai himself wished to stay out of the Cabinet. Admiral Suzuki, however, wanted to sound out the Army's attitude regarding Yonai in the light of the second of the three conditions already accepted by him since Yonai was strongly opposed to the Army-Navy unification plan. There was also the Army's attitude regarding the reappointment of Yonai, who had been the Deputy Premier concurrently holding the position of Navy Minister in the out-going Koiso Cabinet. When the Army's opposition to Yonai did not appear so inflexible as to foreshadow outright rejection of his appointment, Suzuki decided to carry it out.38 Yonai himself was persuaded to accept despite his earlier intention to remain out of the Cabinet.39

The most vital post still remaining to be filled was that of Foreign Minister. Marquis Kido had urged Admiral Suzuki on the night of 5 April to reinstate the out-going Foreign Minister, Mr. Shigemitsu.40 Suzuki, however, received contrary advice from the retiring Premier, General Koiso, and therefore decided to offer the post to Mr. Shigenori Togo, who had been Foreign Minister at the outbreak of war but had resigned in September 1942 as a result of a disagreement with General Tojo's policies regarding the establishment of the Greater East Asia Ministry. Suzuki's decision won the concurrence of Admiral Okada and Marquis Kido, who agreed that Togo could be counted upon to work for the early termination of the war.41

Meanwhile, the composition of the rest of the Cabinet had been determined.42 Rather than await the acceptance of the Foreign Ministry by Togo, who was then residing in Karuizawa, Admiral Suzuki decided that the new government should assume office immediately. The installation ceremony was therefore held at the Imperial Palace on 7 April, the Premier temporarily assuming the foreign affairs portfolio himself. The officially-controlled press


promptly hailed the new cabinet as one for the vigorous prosecution of the war,43 and Premier Suzuki himself furthered this impression by a strongly-worded radio broadcast to the nation on the night of the 8th.44

The Cabinet was now safely installed, but the vital question of who would become Foreign Minister remained undecided. Premier Suzuki conferred with Togo immediately upon the latter's arrival in Tokyo on 8 April and urged him to take the post. This meeting confirmed that Togo was strongly for ending the war. In fact, as a condition for entering the Cabinet, he demanded such clear-cut peace commitments on the part of the Premier that Suzuki, still uncertain in his own mind as to how soon peace should be attempted, was unable to satisfy Togo completely. The talk therefore ended without an agreement.45

This unexpected hitch spurred the peace forces into action. Chief Cabinet Secretary Sakomizu called on Togo the following day and assured him that the Premier's goal was an early peace, although his position made it impossible for him to give a clear-cut commitment. Marquis Kido, Admiral Okada, Marquis Matsudaira and others also appealed to Togo to accept. They emphasized that Suzuki's unduly optimistic estimate of how much longer Japan could continue fighting-the only point of disagreement-was not inflexible, and that it was essential for Togo to enter the Cabinet in order to influence the Premier. Yielding to these concerted pleas, Togo again met Suzuki on 9 April and agreed to join the Government.46

The completion of the Cabinet with Togo's installation as Foreign Minister marked a signal achievement for the advocates of peace. Of the four principal Cabinet figures, two-Yonai and Togo-were definitely in the peace camp. Premier Suzuki himself was basically convinced that the war must be ended and knew that this was the Emperor's desire, although it was evident that he did not, at this stage, grasp the full gravity of the war situation and the consequent urgency of initiating peace without delay.

Still, the formation of the Cabinet was only the beginning, and the most difficult part of the road remained to be travelled. To win and retain the Army's support, thus keeping his Cabinet in being, Premier Suzuki had pledged his Government to a policy of fighting the war to the finish and realized further that he would


have to adhere faithfully to this policy until a more auspicious moment when the necessity for peace was generally recognized.47

Premier Suzuki had now entered upon a delicate and complex task-one fraught with danger, personal as well as national. He realized not only that he risked his own life, but, that any mis-step or ill-considered action might cause the newly formed Cabinet to collapse, thus not fulfilling the mission entrusted to it by the Emperor.48

Initial Peace Discussions

In view of these highly complex circumstances, it was natural that the Suzuki Cabinet, during the first month of its existence, showed no visible sign of harboring peace intentions. Indeed, Premier Suzuki and even the more strongly peace-minded of his ministers fully realized that it was essential to make the strongest possible defense of Okinawa and to intensify homeland battle preparations to the maximum in order to place Japan in a better position for an eventual peace move.49

The Government therefore concentrated its initial attention on moves to expand war production and ameliorate the increasingly serious situations in regard to food and transportation. At the same time, acting through the Supreme War Direction Council, Premier Suzuki requested a comprehensive survey by the Council secretariat of all aspects of the national fighting strength.50 This survey was of vital importance, for it was intended to provide a sound basis for judgement as to whether and how long Japan could continue the war.

Meanwhile, as the rapid convergence of Allied armies on Berlin heralded the imminent end of hostilities in Europe, the Army High Command became more alarmed over the possibility that Soviet Russia might forsake


neutrality toward Japan and join the Allies as a belligerent in the Far East.51 Since such action by Russia would seriously prejudice hopes of successfully defending the homeland against invasion, Lt. Gen. Torashiro Kawabe, Deputy-Chief of the Army General Staff, when he made a courtesy call on the new Foreign Minister in the latter part of April, expressed his views and urged Togo to launch diplomatic efforts designed to keep the Soviet Union out of the Far Eastern war.52 Togo, in fact, had already instructed the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow to seek assurances regarding Soviet neutrality. To this dé marché the Soviet Government, on 27 April, replied evasively that its attitude remained unchanged. Togo held that it was futile to press for a more concrete pledge unelss Japan's bargaining position was improved by a favorable turn in the Okinawa battle and expressed this opinion to the leaders of the High Command. However, since the High Command maintained that there was still ground for optimism regarding the Okinawa fighting, action was deferred pending further developments.53 Almost simultaneously, the unconditional surrender of Germany on 8 May brought an end to the war in Europe. These developments, coupled with the mounting devastation of the homeland by enemy air attacks, convinced Foreign Minister Togo that even a temporary brightening of the military picture could no longer be expected. It was therefore imperative, in his opinion, to launch peace efforts without delay regardless of the obvious weakness of Japan's diplomatic position. Waiting, Togo felt, would only weaken that position further through the gradual exhaustion of Japan's fighting strength, thus jeopardizing the chances of obtaining a negotiated peace short of unconditional surrender.

The surrender of Germany, in fact, removed an important obstacle to broaching the question of peace, for Japan was thereby liberated from her treaty obligation not to come to separate terms with the Allies.54 Reporting to the Emperor on the Nazi collapse, Foreign Minister Togo voiced the opinion that it was now necessary to consider the future policy of the Government in view of the unfavorable developments in Europe. The Emperor still refrained on this occasion from making any strong expression of his views but nevertheless made it clear that he favored an early peace.55


Introduction of the volatile issue of peace into top-level discussions between the Govern-ment and the High Command, however, was a delicate problem. Foreign Minister Togo decided to take advantage of the military's wishes for a diplomatic move toward the Soviet Union He actually believed that little chance existed of obtaining from Russia what the military desired. However, he hoped that, if the leaders of the Government and High Command were brought together for highly confidential talks on this topic, it might be possible to swing the discussions around to the fundamental issue of terminating the war.56

Togo therefore proposed to General Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, that the Supreme War Direction Council meet for a comprehensive discussion of policy toward Soviet Russia and Japan's over-all war situation. Since full meetings of the council, including the secretaries, would make it impossible "to get down to fundamentals" because of the fear of leakage, he urged that the sessions be restricted to the six regular members only: the Premier, Foreign Minister, War and Navy Ministers, and Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs.57

General Umezu fully concurred in these proposals and agreed to take them up with War Minister Anami, whose consent he successfully obtained. Togo meanwhile explained his ideas to Premier Suzuki, Suzuki gave his approval, and with the final concurrence of the Navy Minister, Admiral Yonai, and the Chief of Navy General Staff, Admiral Koshiro Oikawa, the way was paved for the Council to open its discussions.58

The six members convened for their first meeting on 11 May, continuing the discussions at further meetings on the 12th and 14th. The secrecy already obtained by the exclusion of the secretaries was further strengthened by an agreement among the members not to disclose the substance of the meetings even to their immediate subordinates.59 Thus was created the necessary atmosphere of confidence to enable the members to speak their real minds on the subject of peace without fear of untoward consequences.

At the initial meeting, the six leaders immediately grappled with the issue of moves toward Soviet Russia. Pointing to evidence of large-scale Soviet troop tranfers from Europe to the Far East, General Umezu declared that it was vitally necessary to take diplomatic steps with a view to preventing Russia's entry into


the war against Japan. This was unanimously agreed to by the other members, and this discussion turned to a proposal by Navy Minister Yonai that negotiations with the Soviet Union should also aim at obtaining positive Russian aid in the form of war materials, supplies, and especially oil.

The latter proposal precipitated a clash between Yonai and Foreign Minister Togo. The former maintained that it was not too late for such an effort, whereas Togo flatly stated that it would be "hoping against hope" to think that Russia could be won over to Japan's side in view of the over-all military situation and the probable strengthening of Allied-Soviet ties at the Yalta conference. In fact, declared the Foreign Minister, the deterioration of Japan's position was such that earnest consideration must be given to steps for the termination of the war itself.

Premier Suzuki intervened at this point to advance a new proposal. He acknowledged that Togo was possibly correct in his estimate that it was too late to win positive Soviet friendship, but he maintained that it would be unwise not to try to utilize Russia in some way advantageous to Japan. Since there was vital need of finding a way to terminate the war, he proposed that the negotiations with the Soviet Union encompass the additional objective of securing Soviet mediation for a general peace settlement with the Allies.60 No opposition to the principle of Soviet mediation was voiced by the military members at this time.

Near the close of the three-day meetings, however, after general agreement had been reached on the concessions which Japan would offer as a price for renewed Russian friendship,61 Foreign Minister Togo again raised the mediation question in the hope of obtaining a more concrete understanding. He pointed out that negotiations on this matter would be expedited if an agreement were reached immediately regarding the general peace terms which Japan would be willing to accept.

War Minister Anami promptly stated that the conditions of peace must be fixed on the basis of the existing war situation. Japan, he insisted, was not yet defeated and still held enemy territory of far larger area than the Japanese territory occupied by enemy forces. Togo retorted that such an attitude on Japan's part would mean the prompt collapse of any mediation effort. The peace conditions, he stated, must take into account not only the existing status but the probable future trend of the war, as far as it could be reasonably foreseen.

It was readily apparent that there was no hope of agreement on peace terms and that forcing the issue to a showdown at this stage


might compromise future discussions. Navy Minister Yonai therefore proposed that further consideration of the mediation proposal be deferred, and the Council ended its deliberations.62 An official précis drawn up by Foreign Minister Togo after the final meeting on 14 May stated, in part, that the Supreme Council had agreed on "the speedy opening of talks with Soviet Russia" for the purpose of achieving the following three objectives:63

1. Prevention of Soviet entry into the war against Japan;

2. If possible induce the Soviet Government to observe a benevolent neutrality toward Japan; and

3. Eventually obtain Soviet mediation of a nature advantageous to Japan for the purpose of ending the war.

In order to clear the decks for this vital diplomatic effort, the Cabinet took formal action on 15 May to denounce all treaties with Germany and Italy, including the Three-Power Anti-Comintern Pact of 1937, which Russia had always regarded as directed against her.64 Togo further decided that it would be advisable, before launching formal negotiations, to sound out the Soviet attitude through unofficial preliminary talks. This mission was entrusted in the latter part of May to Mr. Koki Hirota, a senior statesman, who had at various times served as Premier, Foreign Minister, and Ambassador to Moscow.65

Owing to difficult wartime conditions and the evacuation of the foreign diplomatic missions from Tokyo, Hirota was unable to meet the Soviet Ambassador, Mr. Jacob A. Malik, until 3 June. Conversations took place on both 3 and 4 June at the mountain hotspring resort of Gora. Hirota intimated that the Japanese Government desired a long-term agreement with the Soviet Union stabilizing friendly relations between the two countries and asked Malik for his views on how this might be accomplished. The Soviet envoy cautiously replied that it would require time to consider the Japanese proposal, and the talks were therefore discontinued for the time being.66

Since the Government's policy had been decided, at least in principle, in favor of seeking Soviet mediation, Foreign Minister Togo, during the latter part of May, abandoned a tentative move initiated by the preceding Foreign Minister, Mr. Shigemitsu, looking toward the possible utilization of Sweden as a peace intermediary. The Japanese Minister at Stockholm, Mr. Suemasa Okamoto, was instructed that no further efforts should be made along this line.67


Parallel with these developments, the Navy learned around the middle of May of an American move to ascertain Japanese peace in tentions. Comdr. Yoshikazu Fujimura, special naval attache at Berne, Switzerland, reported to the Navy General Staff and the Navy Ministry that he had been approached by Mr. Allen O. Dulles, a high-ranking American special agent in Europe. Dulles, Fujimura reported, proposed the dispatch of a Japanese naval representative of admiral's rank to enter into such talks.

Fujimura's messages, for the time being kept strictly secret within the Navy, met with a cautious reception. There was considerable suspicion of the sincerity of the American feeler, but despite this some high officials in both the Navy Ministry and the Navy General Staff were inclined to favor further exploration of the Dulles offer in the hope, at least, of ascertaining the American terms. However, Admiral Soemu Toyoda and Vice Adm. Takijiro Onishi, who took over as Chief and Vice-Chief, respectively, of the Navy General Staff in the latter part of May, both opposed any follow-up action on the ground that the move was nothing but a stratagem to weaken Japan's fighting unity. Consequently, by early June, nothing had yet been done even to bring up the Dulles offer for serious discussion between the Government and the High Command.68

Basic Policy of 8 June

While these highly tentative and cautious approaches were being made to the problem of peace, the military picture continued to darken throughout May. In the Philippines, Fourteenth Area Army resistance to General MacA rthur's forces was rapidly disintegrating. On Okinawa, the ground battle had already become hopeless by early May, and thereafter the Japanese defense became principally an effort by the air forces to hamper and delay consolidation of the enemy's hold on this strategic offensive base for a thrust toward the homeland. The enemy air offensive against the home islands meanwhile continued to mount in severity.

The clear portent of these developments was that the margin of time before Japan Proper might be subjected to enemy assault was fast decreasing. Moreover, in view of the doubtful prospects for Soviet mediation, the absence of any official change in the enemy's stand on unconditional surrender, and the military's evident reluctance to accept unconditional


surrender before fighting the homeland battle, the chances were slim indeed that invasion might be averted by an intervening peace settlement. The Suzuki Cabinet, therefore, even while it strove to find a path toward peace, necessarily had to proceed until peace prospects became more definite, on the assumption that the homeland battle would be fought. This led, early in June, to two developments.

The first of these developments was a decision to convoke the Diet in special session from 9 June for the purpose of voting the Government sweeping emergency powers to prepare for the homeland battle. The decision was taken only after lengthy dispute within the Cabinet. Navy Minister Yonai argued that the Government could act by Imperial Decree without a prior legislative grant of authority and that it was an inopportune moment for convoking the Diet. Premier Suzuki at first inclined toward Yonai's view but finally swung over to the opinion of the majority of the Cabinet, including War Minister Anami and Hiroshi Shimomura, the Chief of the Cabinet Information Board, both of whom maintained that a Diet session was necessary to bolster national morale.69

The second development was the adoption by the Supreme War Direction Council on 8 June of a basic war policy which unequivocally called for prosecuting the war to the end. This was only one phase of the policy because the Government and even the top military leaders had already agreed at the secret mid-May conferences to seek eventual Soviet mediation. The one-sided nature of this policy, however, was inevitable in the light of the circumstances which surrounded its origin, drafting, and final adoption by the Council in plenary session.

Earlier, in mid-April, soon after the formation of the Suzuki Cabinet, a basic war policy draft had been prepared within the Army as was the customary practice. The policy draft was intended for submission to the Government in an effort to coordinate the future policy of the Government and the High Command. The draft was completed by Col. Sako Tanemura of the Army General Staff and was approved by Chief and Deputy-Chief of the Army General Staff and by the War Minister.70

During the meetings of the assistant secretaries of the Supreme War Direction Council, who had no knowledge that the six Council leaders had already begun secret deliberations on peace, the idea developed and was generally agreed that adoption by the Council of a new basic war policy was necessary to meet the ever-increasing threat of an invasion of the Homeland. The military element in the assistant secretaries' group vigorously pushed this idea and since the discussions were similar in substance to the Army policy draft prepared earlier by Tanemura, the Army draft bearing official approval was submitted to the Cabinet representatives


in the Council secretariat in the latter part of May for further deliberations by the Council.71

It was a foregone conclusion that a policy declaration emanating from the lower level of the Army leadership would make no mention of efforts for peace. The Army's draft clearly reflected the dominant thinking of the military who were adamantly against acknowledging defeat and demanded the waging of a final all-out battle in defense of the homeland.

The draft was then taken up in preliminary discussions with the Cabinet representatives in the Council secretariat. The atmosphere in these discussions rendered any expression of peace ideas completely out of the question. Nevertheless an attempt was made to modify the terms of the policy to give it an interpretation which eventually might be exploited for peace purposes and also to limit the war objectives to the preservation of the homeland and the national polity. However, the final wording remained extremely warlike.72 The text of the basic policy draft read as follows:73

General Policy:

On the strength of its advantageous geographical position and the undying loyalty and solidarity of its people, (the Empire will prosecute the war to the end in order to preserve the national polity and protect the Imperial Homeland,74 thereby securing the foundations for the future development of the race.


1. Preparations for battle on the soil of the homeland will speedily be strengthened, and the main fighting strength of the Imperial forces will be concentrated there. In other areas, fighting strength will be disposed according to actual capabilities and with primary emphasis on combating the United States as the principal enemy, taking into account at the same time the possibility of a sudden change in the situation to the north.

2. Changing tendencies in the world situation will be exploited through the pursuit of an active and aggressive diplomacy, especially toward Soviet Russia and China, with a view to furthering the prosecution of the war.

3. On the home front, all necessary preparations to enable the entire nation to fight unitedly


in the decisive battle of the homeland will be rushed to completion in thorough conformity with the spirit of a people's war. In particular, the Government will lay stress in all its measures on the replenishment of the nation's material strength, with special attention to securing food supplies and augmenting the production of special weapons, as well as on boosting fighting morale and consolidating national unity, with the formation of people's volunteer units as the backbone of the program.

4. Swift action will be taken by the proper authorities to plan and execute concrete measures based on the present basic policy.

The stage was now set for action. On 6 June, the Supreme War Direction Council convened for a preliminary discussion of the draft, final action on which was to be taken at a formal meeting in the Emperor's presence on 8 June. Before the discussion began, the Council heard two special reports presented by the secretaries, one summarizing the current state of the nation's war strength and the other outlining the international situation. These reports supposedly formed the basis of the policy draft but were strikingly at variance with the decisions contained in it.

The analysis of the national war strength pointed to a sharp reduction of fighting potential due to air raid destruction and the severance of sea communications, particularly emphasizing decreased steel and aircraft production and the near-exhaustion of liquid fuel supplies.75 In the report on the world situation, these gloomy findings were underlined by the estimate that the Allies would launch a massive assault on the homeland at an early date and that there was probability of Soviet entry into the war against Japan.76

Despite this dark picture, Lt. Gen. Torashiro Kawabe, Deputy-Chief of the Army General Staff,77 strongly emphasized that, in defending the homeland itself, the armed forces would be favored by advantages which they had not enjoyed in previous island campaigns in the Pacific. For the first time, the Army would be able to throw its main strength into decisive battle, aided by short communication lines and the full support of the population. It would take the offensive with determination to fight to the death and with "faith in certain victory." He added, however, that continued Soviet neutrality was absolutely indispensable to enable Japan to withstand invasion.78

Admiral Soemu Toyoda, Chief of the Navy General Staff, spoke with less optimism. There was considerable possibility, he said, that the enemy might invade southern Kyushu in July or August, or might strike directly at


Honshu as early as September. In either case, the Navy would have difficulty in assembling sufficient strength, and it consequently was improbable that a large proportion of the invading force could be destroyed by attack operations prior to landing. This proportion would increase the later the invasion came, but only if the production of special attack weapons and especially of aviation fuel could be main tained in spite of enemy bombings.79

In the light of these High Command statements and the reports already presented to the Council, the ensuing discussion of the policy draft itself centered on two critical questions: first, whether there was hope of keeping Soviet Russia out of the war by diplomatic action; and second, whether it would be possible to keep war production at a sufficient level to assure reasonable prospects of successfully opposing an enemy invasion. On both these points, Foreign Minister Togo expressed serious doubt.80

Reminding the Council that in wartime strong diplomacy was contingent upon military victories, Togo declared that the war situation was so highly unfavorable to Japan that no success whatever could be expected in efforts to win positive Soviet friendship. He acknowledged that some hope remained of keeping Russia from actively entering the war against Japan, but he emphasized that even this hope would become tenuous unless Japan's fighting strength could be maintained at a sufficiently high level to convince the Russians that there was only a slight probability of an early and certain Allied victory.

Togo was no less pessimistic with regard to the possibility of keeping the nation's war strength up to the required level. Production, he stated, could hardly be augmented in the face of steadily intensifying enemy air operations against the homeland. On the contrary, there was grave danger that it would decline still further unless the enemy air superiority could be overcome.

Togo's stand, however, failed to gain any support from others. The Premier, in fact, displayed a firm attitude throughout the deliberations81 and persuaded Togo to agree to the Council's adoption of the basic policy in view of prevailing circumstances. Admiral Yonai for the most part remained silent.82 On the other hand, Munitions Minister Teijiro Toyoda, who had been specially summoned to attend the meeting, bolstered the case for adoption by stating that it might be possible to


Plate No. 164, Morale Poster

Poster Reads:
Should there be air raids,
They will not be intended for destroying our Homeland,
But will be aimed to strike at our morale.
Are we to let them demoralize our YAMATO fighting spirit?

Morale Poster


maintain war production at the required level if determined steps were taken to boost working morale, ensure greater coordination, and especially to strengthen the protection of land and sea transportation against air attack.83

No further opinions were put forward in regard to the fundamental issue. The Council, which had been in session the greater part of the day, approved a minor change in the wording of the basic policy and then adopted it unanimously to conclude the deliberations.84 This decision was ratified by the Cabinet on 7 June, and on the 8th the Council reconvened in the presence of the Emperor to finalize its action.

The proceedings of the Imperial conference were rigidly formal. Whereas there had been some spontaneous discussion on 6 June, the meeting before the Emperor followed a predetermined pattern. Most of the statements were prepared in advance and designed to fit in with the decision which the conference would automatically take to adopt the basic policy.

As on 6 June, the proceedings began with presentation of the reports on the national strength and world situation. The body of these reports remained unchanged, except for a few revisions in the conclusions. The statements of the High Command representatives followed. Lt. Gen. Kawabe, again attending in place of General Umezu, read the same statement which he had made on 6 June. However, the remarks of the Chief of Navy General Staff, Admiral Toyoda, had been redrafted for the Imperial conference and were noticeably more optimistic. Although again emphasizing that the Navy's effectiveness depended upon the maintenance of war production, Toyoda expressed confidence that close to one-half of an enemy invasion force could be destroyed on the water in the event of an early assault on the Homeland, and that the rate of destruction would increase the later the assault came.85

Following statements by the Munitions and Agriculture Ministers, Foreign Minister Togo briefly addressed the conference. In contrast to his outspokenly critical attitude at the 6 June meeting, Togo on this occasion read a restrained statement which reiterated the pessimistic outlook for negotiations with Russia but avoided any clear-cut expression of opposition


to the basic policy. Baron Hiranuma, President of the Privy Council, then spoke, after which the basic policy was formally read and adopted without further discussion.86

Concluding the conference, Premier Suzuki declared:

The Government and the High Command, acting in closest unity, will henceforth strive to carry into effect the terms of the Basic Policy for Future Direction of the War here adopted. However, it is clear from today's discussions that extraordinary effort on both sides is an absolute prerequisite for the effectuation of this policy.

For its part, the High Command is requested to ensure real unity between the Army and Navy so that maximum effectiveness may be realized through fully coordinated military operations. At the same time, on the Government's side, all members of the Cabinet pledge full determination literally to sacrifice their lives for the purpose of carrying out the policy, in particular Items 2 and 3. (Cf. pp. 640-1)

The present situation of the Empire is truly perilous. Indeed, I think it can be said that we as a nation are struggling for life in the very jaws of death. This situation cannot be met by intelligence or ingenuity alone. There is but one course, to drive straight ahead without faltering toward the objectives in which we believe. I hereby affirm the Government's resolve to do this.

Throughout the conference the Emperor had remained silent in strict accordance with constitutional custom. After Premier Suzuki's final words of exhortation, he quietly rose and left the conference chamber to bring the meeting to a close.87 Those attending the conference, realizing that they were the cause of deep concern on the part of the Emperor, were overwhelmed with awe.

Emperor's Initiative

The basic policy decision evoked its strongest and most significant repercussion in the inner circle of the Court. Just before the Imperial conference met, Marquis Kido, the Emperor's closest advisor, obtained access to the conference documents and decided, in view of the basic policy's unequivocal reiteration of intent to fight on, that the only hope of swinging the High Command and Government toward peace lay in attaining direct Imperial intervention. On 8 June, the same day that the Imperial conference formally adopted the basic policy, Kido drew up for submission to the Emperor a vital plan of action for peace embodying this central idea.

The plan, which Kido cautiously entitled "A Draft Plan of Countermeasures to Meet the Situation", was prefaced by an explanation of the reasons why he considered it imperative to end the war without delay. The Okinawa battle, he pointed out, was almost certain to end soon in complete defeat. Furthermore, the report on the national strength submitted to the Imperial conference in conjunction with the basic policy clearly indicated that it would become virtually impossible in the near future for Japan to carry on the war.

Turning to the question of enemy strategy, Kido expressed fear that a continuation of mass


air attacks with incendiary bombs would "make a holocaust" of towns and villages throughout the country. Along with the destruction of their homes, people would lose their food stocks and clothing. Social unrest of alarming proportions would become inevitable with the advent of winter, and there was grave danger that the situation might get out of control. Kido's plan continued:88

From the viewpoint set forth above, I consider that it is essential for Japan to make a resolute move to terminate hostilities and restore peace. By what methods and steps, then, should this objective be attained? This problem calls for the most careful consideration.

In the light of various announcements, speeches and articles publicized by the enemy as part of a peace offensive, it is almost certain that the major enemy objective is the overthrow of the so-called gumbatsu, or militarist clique, in this country. Consequently, I believe that the proper way to start peace negotiations would be for the fighting services to propose peace initially, and for the Government then to decide on a peace plan and open negotiations. However, in the light of actual conditions in Japan, such action is virtually impossible at this juncture. Furthermore, if we wait for an opportunity to ripen for such action, it may come too late, and Japan may share the fate of Germany, making it impossible to secure even our minimum demands: the safeguarding of the Imperial family and the preservation of the national polity.

Although it will be a departure from past precedent and a course which we can contemplate only with awe and trepidation, I believe that there is no course left for us but to petition for Imperial intervention for the sake of the people and take steps to end hostilities and restore peace in accordance with the following policy:

1. Negotiations will be opened with an intermediary power in pursuance of a personal message by the Emperor. If it were possible to do so, it might be wise to open direct peace negotiations with the United States and Britain. However, it seems more advisable, in view of Soviet Russia's neutrality toward Japan, to ask that country to mediate between Japan and the Allies so as to allow some latitude to Japan.

2. The keynote of the Emperor's personal message will follow that of the Imperial Rescript on the declaration of war, emphasizing His Majesty's constant concern for peace and his decision to terminate hostilities on broad terms in view of war ravages and for the sake of world peace, by bearing the unbearable.

3. Definition of peace terms: Honorable peace (it may be inevitable that this will be the minimum term. In view of the object of Japans declaration of war, if a guarantee is obtained that the Pacific will be made true to its name, Japan will renounce her right of occupation and claim to leadership over those areas now under her occupation, provided only that the nations and peoples of these areas attain independence. Japan, on her own initiative, will withdraw her armed forces from the occupied areas. (In this case, some Japanese forces may be compelled to abandon their arms on the spot, but this question may be left to future negotiation.)

4. Japan must be prepared to carry out a heavy reduction of armaments, which will be demanded of her. There will be no alternative but to be content with the minimum armament required of national defense.

These are my personal opinions which I have candidly expressed. The plan contains only essential points. It goes without saying that the terms of negotiation and other matters will have to be adjusted on the basis of the views of experts in various quarters.

On 9 June Kido laid his plan before the Emperor. His Majesty had been profoundly distressed over the decision taken by the Imperial conference the preceding day and considered it illogical and inconsistent with the admittedly serious situation of the national strength.89 After listening to Kido's plan, the Emperor gave his full approval and instructed Kido to enter into immediate consultations with the Premier and the War, Navy, and Foreign


Ministers with a view to its realization. The Diet had already begun its special session, however, and Kido was unable to confer with the four Government leaders until its adjourn ment four days later.90

As Navy Minister Yonai had predicted, extreme war sentiment dominated the Diet session. In his opening speech, Premier Suzuki alluded to a statement he had made at San Francisco in 1918 to the effect that the United States and Japan would surely suffer "the punishment of Heaven" if they ever made the Pacific the scene of war.91 Premier Suzuki's speech immediately led to hostile discussion among various members of the Lower House. Ultra-rightist members acting in collusion with certain Army elements seized upon Premier Suzuki's speech as a pretext for launching an attempt to discredit the Cabinet. The situation quieted after War Minister Anami had warned his subordinates against further involvement in anti-Government activity.92 After this brief but significant flurry, the Diet passed the emergency war measures and adjourned on 13 June.

While the Diet was in session, the Emperor's concern for an early peace was heightened by two highly authoritative reports on the military situation. General Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, returned to Tokyo from his official mission to Dairen immediately after the Imperial conference of 8 June and, on the 9th, made a pessimistic report to the Emperor concerning the military outlook on the continent.93 Three days later, an equally gloomy report was presented to His Majesty by Admiral Kiyoshi Hasegawa, Special Naval Inspector, whom the Emperor had entrusted with the inspection of special attack forces for the homeland battle.94

These reports, which the Emperor communicated in substance to Marquis Kido, spurred the latter to act swiftly on his peace plan as soon as the Diet adjourned on 13 June. Kido the same day had separate conversations with Premier Suzuki and Navy Minister Yonai, to both of whom he disclosed his plan. Yonai expressed full readiness to support the plan on the condition that Suzuki, as head of the Cabinet, would do likewise. The Premier, though asking for a little time to consider, also


expressed general agreement and assured Kido that he would do his best to put the plan into effect.95

Kido next outlined his ideas to Foreign Minister Togo in an interview on 15 June. He explained that he had already obtained the Emperor's full approval and asked Togo to draw up without delay a definite and detailed plan. The Foreign Minister replied that he was in general accord with Kido's proposals, pointing out at the same time that efforts were already underway with a view to securing eventual Soviet mediation. Togo was surprised to discover that neither Kido nor the Emperor had been informed of the decisions reached at the six leaders' conferences in mid-May with respect to diplomatic action toward Russia.96

The Foreign Minister promptly brought Kido up to date on these developments and informed him that, although the six leaders had agreed to defer mediation until the Soviet attitude had first been sounded out and some agreement had been reached on the Japanese side regarding peace terms, he (Togo) and Navy Minister Yonai both felt that it was now high time to press for action. He told Kido that he and Yonai had agreed, in a talk on 13 June, to take up the matter with Premier Suzuki and War Minister Anami. Togo emphasized, however, that the Government was in an extremely awkward positon because of the one-sided basic policy adopted at the Imperial conference on 8 June. Kido replied that he was fully aware of this and would do what he could to facilitate matters.97

Immediately after his talk with Kido, Foreign Minister Togo again conferred with Yonai. The Navy Minister informed Togo that he had spoken to Premier Suzuki regarding steps to press the mediation issue and that the Premier had agreed. Suzuki had confided in him, Yonai told Togo, that he thought the Foreign Minister himself should be sent to Moscow to conduct negotiations with the Soviet Government.98

The Army's attitude, however, still remained unknown. War Minister Anami was out of Tokyo on an inspection tour, and it was not until 18 June, following his return, that Marquis Kido was able to sound out his views. The War Minister, after listening to Kido's proposals, agreed in general that the situation was serious but insisted that it was necessary to wage the homeland battle and inflict heavy losses on the enemy before initiating peace action. Kido, on the other hand, said he could see little hope of success in the defense of the homeland and strongly emphasized the Emperor's fear that such a course would finally result in laying waste the entire country and sacrificing the national polity itself. Anami, however, remained non-committal.99

Meanwhile, Premier Suzuki had decided to call a restricted meeting of the six Supreme


War Direction Council members for the purpose of reopening discussions on peace. The meeting took place in the evening of 18 June. War Minister Anami and the Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs unitedly main tained that Japan must keep on fighting as long as the enemy insisted upon unconditional surrender, and argued that there would be better chances of securing a moderation of the enemy's terms if the homeland battle were fought and heavy losses inflicted on the invading forces. Nevertheless, under advice from Suzuki, Togo and Yonai, the War Minister and High Command leaders finally agreed to an immediate acceleration of the negotiations with Russia in an effort to obtain Soviet mediation for a peace settlement on acceptable terms.100

Foreign Minister Togo communicated this decision the following day to Mr. Hirota, who was still awaiting a response from Soviet Ambassador Malik to his initial proposals made on 3-4 June. Togo urged Hirota to seize the first opportunity to resume conversations with Malik and to ascertain, if possible, the Soviet attitude toward mediating between Japan and the Allies on the basis of terms more favorable than unconditional surrender.101

On 2o June Togo reported directly to the Emperor on the steps taken to pave the way for Soviet mediation, while Premier Suzuki informed Kido of the outcome of the six leaders' conference on the 18th.102 Although a good start had been made, Kido felt that, to clinch the reorientation of policy toward peace, it was advisable for the Emperor to summon the six leaders to an Imperial conference and directly command them to speed diplomatic peace efforts. Kido submitted his opinion to the Emperor on the afternoon of 20 June, and the conference was called two days later.103

At the Imperial conference of 22 June, the Emperor boldly took the initiative. Pointing out that Japan was already experiencing extreme difficulty in carrying on the war owing to the critical military and domestic situation, he expressed fear that these difficulties would steadily become greater under intensified enemy air attacks. He therefore urged the Government and the High Command not to limit their efforts to carrying out military preparations for the defense of the homeland as provided in the basic policy of 8 June, but also to exert all possible effort to bring the war to an acceptable conclusion by diplomatic means. His Majesty then invited the opinions of the six leaders.

Premier Suzuki promptly acknowledged the extreme gravity of Japan's war situation and agreed with the Emperor's view that every effort should be made to bring about a diplomatic peace settlement at the same time that preparations were continued to defend the homeland. Navy Minister Yonai and Foreign Minister Togo seconded the Premier's remarks. Yonai also insisted that every step be taken to induce Soviet Russia to act as a mediator between Japan and the Allies for a negotiated peace. Togo admitted that an approach to Russia involved certain dangers as well as the necessity of making heavy concessions, but he emphasized that Soviet mediation offered the sole hope of avoiding unconditional surrender.

Asked to state the views of the Army High Command, General Umezu pointed out that the launching of peace proposals would have


profound repercussions at home as well as abroad, and that it was consequently imperative to act with the utmost caution and only on the basis of a most thorough appraisal of all aspects of the situation. The Emperor pointedly queried whether Umezu meant by his statement that he opposed peace action. To this Umezu replied that he fully recognized the necessity for prompt diplomatic measures without awaiting the invasion of the homeland and only meant to stress the need for caution. No further opinions were offered either by War Minister Anami or Admiral Toyoda, Chief of the Navy General Staff, and the Emperor retired to end the conference.104

The Emperor's clear-cut expression of his will at the 22 June Imperial conference marked a decisive stride forward on the thorny road toward peace. For the first time since the formation of his Cabinet, Premier Suzuki felt confident that he could succeed in the mission entrusted to him by the Emperor.105 The Government's policy, hitherto vacillating and indecisive, was now set definitely toward terminating the war by diplomatic negotiation, and the Army's top leaders had committed themselves before the Emperor to support that policy. Despite this commitment, there was some concern in the peace group as to whether the Army could control its extremist elements.

Negotiations with Russia

Imperial intervention resulted in the immediate renewal of the Hirota-Malik talks, suspended since early June. Events, however, rapidly bore out Foreign Minister Togo's judgment that it would be extremely difficult to induce a reversal of the hostile trend in Soviet policy toward Japan.

Meeting Malik on 24 June, Hirota vigorously pressed for a reply to his earlier overtures for a Soviet Japanese rapprochement but was unable to get from the Soviet envoy anything more than a promise to refer to his Government any concrete proposals which might be advanced from the Japanese side. In the course of the talk, Hirota found occasion to express hope for the early restoration of peace in the Far East. Malik's reply was so curt, however, that any approach to the subject of mediation was impossible.106

Since continuation of the talks now required specific proposals on the part of the Japanese Government, Foreign Minister Togo handed Hirota on 28 June a written statement to transmit to Malik, proposing the conclusion


of a long-term Soviet Japanese pact of mutual assistance and non-aggression.107 Hirota had earlier told Togo that he feared pressing the negotiations too strongly might give away Japan's weakness. Togo nevertheless reiterated that haste was vital under the circumstances and urged Hirota to transmit the Japanese proposal without delay.108

Acting on these instructions, Hirota handed the Japanese Government's written statement to Malik on 29 June and requested a reply at the earliest possible date. On 30 June Togo telegraphed this information to the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow, instructing him to "do the utmost" at that end to speed the reply of the Soviet Government.109 The negotiations were now on an official government-to-government basis, but the vital question of Soviet mediation still had not been broached.

The first week of July passed without any answer from Moscow to the preliminary Japanese proposals. The Emperor became increasingly concerned over the delay and finally, acting on the advice of Marquis Kido, summoned Premier Suzuki to the Palace on 7 July to urge that prompt steps be taken to bring mediation into the negotiations Stating that it would not do to miss the opportunity for peace by spending too much time in sounding out Soviet intentions, His Majesty proposed that mediation be requested without further delay and that a special envoy be dispatched to Moscow for this purpose, bearing a personal message from the Emperor.110

The dispatch of a special enovy was, in fact, already part of the six leaders' contemplated plan of action. Premier Suzuki and Foreign Minister Togo had tentatively agreed that the mission should be entrusted to Prince Konoye, and on 7 July, prior to Suzuki's audience with the Emperor, Foreign Minister Togo left Tokyo for Karuizawa to ascertain unofficially whether Konoye would accept the assignment. In a talk with Togo on 8 July, Konoye indicated that he would undertake the mission if the Emperor commanded him to do so. He and Togo agreed that it would be best if he could go to Moscow with wide discretion as regards peace terms.111

Following his return to Tokyo, Foreign Minister Togo learned from the Premier on 9 July of the Emperor's desire to speed the dispatch of a special emissary. It was promptly decided to seek the approval of the Supreme War Direction Council, and Premier Suzuki summoned the six members to a restricted meeting on the 10th. No objection was encountered at the meeting. After the Premier communicated the Emperor's wish, the six leaders swiftly agreed that immediate steps be taken to arrange for the special mission, including the dispatch of a message transmitting to the Soviet Government the Imperial desire to end the war.112

Meanwhile, Moscow's silence on the Japanese proposal for a nonaggression pact remained unbroken. Naotake Sato, Japanese Ambassador at Moscow, was not aware that the proposal


was intended to pave the way for a mediation request, and he had refrained from pressing it on the ground that circumstances rendered rejection a practical certainty.113 For this failure to obey instructions, Sato was criticized by Foreign Minister Togo on 9 July. Togo cabled the Ambassador to carry out orders "apart from your own opinion" and reiterated that he must obtain an interview with Foreign Commissar Molotov before the latter's impending departure for the Potsdam conference and "try to induce the Soviet side to fall in with our project."114

Since Molotov was currently engaged in top-level talks with the visiting Chinese Premier, T. V. Soong, Sato had difficulty in arranging a meeting. However, after a preliminary exchange of views with Foreign Vice-Commissar Lozovsky on 10 July, Sato succeeded in obtaining a 20 minute interview with Molotov on the 11th. Both conversations got nowhere. Ambassador Sato insistently pressed for an indication of the Soviet attitude regarding the Japanese pact proposal, but Molotov replied that no answer could be given pending further careful study.115

Even while Sato was conferring with Molotov, new instructions were en route from Tokyo bringing the Ambassador his first knowledge that Japan was seeking to end the war through utilization of Soviet Russia. The instructions directed Sato to sound out Molotov speedily with this objective in view, and a further message dispatched by Foreign Minister Togo on the evening of the 11th authorized the Ambassador to state that Japan, in connection with the termination of the war, had "no thought of annexing or retaining the territories under her occupation."116

While Sato prepared to act on these new instructions, further developments took place in Tokyo. During the morning of the 12th, Premier Suzuki conveyed to the Emperor and Marquis Kido the Government's desire to send Prince Konoye to Moscow. Since the Prince was already on his way to Tokyo from Karuizawa, His Majesty decided to summon him to the Palace the same afternoon and command him to accept the mission if it materialized.117

Prince Konoye was received in audience by the Emperor at 1500 the same day. His Majesty, after obtaining a clear-cut assurance that Konoye agreed with him on the vital necessity of terminating the war, disclosed that he wished the Prince to go to Moscow as a special peace emissary. Konoye replied that he was prepared to sacrifice his life to carry out the Emperor's will.118

It still was necessary, however, to obtain Soviet consent to Konoye's mission. Foreign Minister Togo therefore dispatched an urgent message to Ambassador Sato on the evening of 12 July, instructing him to request prompt admittance for Prince Konoye and his suite to the Soviet Union and the provision of an official plane to transport the party from the Soviet-Manchurian border to Moscow. The Ambassador was further instructed to communicate directly to Molotov, prior to the impending three-Power conference, the following explanation of the Emperor's desire to


terminate the war:119

His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, being solicitous of the increasing hardships and war-suffering imposed on the belligerent nations, desires that the war should promptly be brought to an end. So long as Britain and the United States adhere to their demand for Japan's unconditional surrender in the Greater East Asia War, Japan has no alternative but to fight on at all costs for the honor and self-preservation of the nation. However, it is far from our desire to see further bloodshed by the belligerent nations on this account. His Majesty hopes to restore peace as speedily as possible for the sake of the happiness of mankind .... He intends to dispatch Prince Konoye as his special envoy to the Soviet Union, bearing a personal message which will convey his wishes to the above effect.

Ambassador Sato, immediately upon receiving this message on 13 July, requested a further interview with Molotov. The latter, however, replied that his impending departure for the three-Power conference made a meeting im possible, and he advised Sato to see Lozovsky instead. Sato therefore called on the Foreign Vice-Commissar at 1700 the same day and handed him a written statement of the Emperor's wish to terminate the war together with a confidential note for transmittal to Molotov, requesting the Soviet Government's assent to the Konoye mission. Lozovsky assured Sato that he would immediately transmit both documents to Molotov, but he stated that it would be practically impossible to make a reply prior to Molotov's departure.120

Stalin and Molotov left Moscow for the Potsdam conference on the afternoon of 14 July, nearly twenty-four hours after Ambassador Sato had handed the documents relative to Prince Konoye's mission to Foreign Vice-Commissar Lozovsky. Consequently, despite Sato's failure to see Molotov directly, it was considered certain in Tokyo that the Soviet leaders went to the tripartite talks with knowledge of the Emperor's desire to dispatch a peace mission to Moscow.121

On the 14th, a further meeting of only the six Supreme War Direction Council members was held. Premier Suzuki disclosed the Emperor's decision to entrust the Moscow mission to Prince Konoye, and Foreign Minister Togo explained the steps already taken to obtain the consent of the Soviet Government. It was swiftly agreed that Konoye should be accompanied by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and by a general and an admiral representing the High Command, but on the question of peace terms the discussions again reached a deadlock. War Minister Anami repeated his contention that the terms must be based on the fact that Japan, from a territorial viewpoint, was still far from defeated. Togo and Navy Minister Yonai argued on the contrary that the probable future development of the military situation must be taken into account. Since no agreement seemed possible, the final decision on terms was deferred until Konoye actually reached Moscow and began the mediation parleys.122

The Soviet Government, however, appeared no more eager to respond to the proposal for Konoye's mission than to the earlier overture for nonaggression pact. For five days after the communication of this proposal to Lozovsky on the 13th, there was complete silence. Then, on the evening of 18 July, Lozovsky finally


handed Ambassador Sato a note which stated that the Soviet Government could give no definite reply because the statement of the Emperor's desire for peace contained no concrete proposal and because the nature of Prince Konoye's mission was not sufficiently clear.123

Ambassador Sato's radio reporting the contents of the Soviet note did not reach the Tokyo Foreign Office until the morning of 20 July. On the 21st, Foreign Minister Togo telegraphed back a reply for transmission to Lozovsky, stating that Prince Konoye's mission was to request the good offices of the Soviet Government for bringing the war to an end in accordance with the Emperor's wishes, to convey the concrete intentions of the Japanese Government in this connection, and to negotiate on matters relative to the establishment of cooperative relations between Japan and the Soviet Union. A separate message addressed to Sato explained that while Japan could not accept unconditional surrender under any circumstances, she desired, through Soviet good offices, to secure a peace settlement short of unconditional surrender. The message further stated that the Japanese Government could not immediately proffer concrete peace terms owing to the delicate situation, but that Prince Konoye would clarify Japan's intentions when he reached Moscow and would also give "full consideration to Russian demands in East Asia."124

The Japanese note clarifying Konoye's mission was communicated to Lozovsky by Ambassador Sato on 25 July. In dispatches to Foreign Minister Togo the same day, Sato stated that Lozovsky appeared deeply impressed by Japan's appeal for the good offices of the Soviet Government and promised to communicate the Russian reply as soon as it was available.125

The report of this interview was barely in the hands of the Tokyo Foreign Office when a startling development upset the Japanese plans. From Potsdam, where Stalin and Molotov were still conferring with the leaders of the British and American Governments, came the announcement of the Three-Power Anglo-American-Chinese Declaration of 26 July, stating the terms which Japan must accept in order to obtain peace.

The Potsdam Declaration

The Three-Power Declaration was picked up by official radio monitoring stations in Tokyo at about 0600 on 27 July. It stated:126

We, the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agreed that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily


laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by these self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan's war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out, and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights, shall be established.

Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted.

The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established, in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people, a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

We call upon the Government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurance of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.

Receipt of the Three-Power Declaration touched off a flurry of intense official activity. Foreign office experts immediately began translating and analyzing its contents, their attention promptly focussing on two highly significant facts. The first was that the Soviet Government, although almost certainly consulted at Potsdam regarding issuance of the declaration, remained non-party to it, thereby preserving Russia's legal neutrality in the Pacific war. The second was that the issuing Powers-the United States, Britain and China-abandoned their previous insistence upon unconditional surrender pure and simple and, instead, laid down eight specific conditions for a peace settlement with Japan. The term "unconditional surrender" appeared only once in the document and was specifically limited in application to "the Japanese armed forces."127

The fact that the Three-Powers, presumably


informed by the Russians of Japan's desire to end the war, had proffered certain peace conditions instead of demanding blanket unconditional surrender immediately impressed Foreign Minister Togo as of paramount importance. The conditions were unquestionably severe, particularly with regard to the reduction of Japanese territories, but Togo was not surprised in view of Japan's war situation. Moreover, while the Allies stated that they would not deviate from these terms, Togo believed that if the Soviet Government finally agreed to Japan's mediation request, it would be possible at least to negotiate through Russia to assure that the Potsdam terms would be interpreted in the most favorable way for Japan. It was therefore essential, first, not to reject the Allied declaration, which would at once close the door to further peace negotiations, and second, to await Russia's final answer on the Konoye mission.128 Premier Suzuki promptly concurred in these views.129

Having won the Premier's concurrence, Foreign Minister Togo proceeded to the Palace at about 1030, less than five hours after the receipt of the Three-Power Declaration, and reported on its contents directly to the Emperor and to Marquis Kido. In his report to the Emperor, Togo stated the opinion that rejection of the declaration would "invite serious consequences" and that, since an approach had already been made to the Soviet Government for the purpose of ending the war, no action on the declaration should be taken until the Soviet attitude was ascertained.130

Immediately following Togo's audience with the Emperor, the six leaders of the Supreme War Direction Council met in an urgent and restricted session to decide Japan's general policy toward the Three-Power pronouncement. Togo, supported by Premier Suzuki, advocated the same course that he had recommended to the Emperor. War Minister Anami and the Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs, on the other hand, argued that the Potsdam terms were so close to out- and-out unconditional surrender that they allowed no basis for negotiation, and that prompt official rejection was necessary to obviate the serious effect which any display of indecision would have on the morale of the fighting services and people. On the latter point, however, the military members finally yielded, and it was agreed that no action should be taken on the declaration pending the outcome of the Russian negotiations.131

The Cabinet, meeting the same afternoon, debated the delicate question of how the Three-Power pronouncement should be handled domestically. Togo, who feared that immediate publication would put the Government in a position where it would be pressured into coming out openly against the Potsdam terms, urged withholding the declaration from the public for the time being. Other members of the Cabinet, however, argued that this would be unwise since the declaration had been broadcast throughout the world and would quickly leak out to the Japanese public. War Minister Anami urged that it was essential for the Government, in publishing the declaration, to repudiate it explicitly and even endeavor to exploit it for the purpose of boosting the fighting spirit of the nation.

Against the War Minister's stand, Premier Suzuki again came out strongly in support of Togo's thesis that the Government should


neither accept nor reject the Potsdam Declaration pending the outcome of the negotiation with Moscow. The Cabinet finally agreed, therefore, that although the declaration should be published, certain passages which seemed particularly aimed at lowering the nation's will to fight should be withheld, and the Government should rigidly refrain from any official comment whatsoever. The press also was to be instructed to play down the declaration as far as possible.132

In practice, this compromise arrangement worked out very badly. The Cabinet Information Board, within which the Army and Navy were represented, duly instructed the press to publish the declaration in abridged form, leaving out the passages which stated that the Allied did not intend "that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation" and that Japanese troops, after being disarmed, "shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives." The Board further barred publication of any comment attributed to official sources, but since it was feared that no mention whatever of the Government's attitude might be construed publicly as an indication of wavering, the press was authorized to report, without crediting any official source, that the Government appeared to be ignoring the Allied Declaration.133

This guidance was obediently followed in the morning editions of 28 July. The declaration was published in abridged form, and the newspapers reported no official comment. The papers themselves refrained from editorial comment in compliance with the directive to play down the declaration, but in their news columns they reported briefly and without quoting any official source that the Government was paying no attention to the enemy pronoucement which appeared to be a propaganda device designed to drive a wedge between the military and the Japanese people.134

This halfway treatment was far from satisfactory to Togo, but it was even more unsatisfactory to the military. On the morning of 28 July, when the regular Saturday information conference of the Government and High Command took place at the Imperial Palace, the War and Navy Ministers and the Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs closeted themselves and again urged that the Government come out openly against the Potsdam Declaration. Subjected to this insistent pressure, Suzuki agreed to make a brief statement at his scheduled press conference the same afternoon explicitly confirming the already published newspaper reports that the Government was ignoring the declaration. Foreign Minister Togo was absent from the Palace conference and knew nothing of this development.135

The Premier's statement to the press, phrased for home consumption, was extremely maladroit. He told reporters that he regarded the Three-Power pronouncement as a mere restatement of the Cairo Declaration, and that the Government attributed no significant value to it. The declaration, he added, would not be heeded, and the nation's only course was to go ahead with the all-out prosecution of the



Although some effort appears to have been made to caution the press against giving undue prominence to the Premier's remarks, the newspapers on 29 July played up his assertion that the Government would take no notice of the Potsdam Declaration.137 Moreover, the statement was promptly disseminated to the world through Japanese news broadcasting facilities. Foreign Minister Togo lodged a strong protest with the Premier on the ground that his statement violated the decisions reached by the six leaders and the Cabinet on 27 July. A retraction, however, was obviously impossible, and it was decided to do nothing further until Russia's attitude had been ascertained.138

The negotiations with Moscow had been at a standstill since Ambassador Sato's interview with Lozovsky on 25 July. Stalin and Molotov were still at Potsdam and had authorized no reply to the Japanese proposal for the Konoye mission. On 30 July, Sato again pressed Lozovsky for an answer. He told the Foreign Vice-Commissar that, provided the formula of unconditional surrender could be avoided, Japan desired " to end the war on broad terms of compromise, so long as its honor and existence are guaranteed." He asked Lozovsky to transmit this information to the Soviet leaders at Potsdam, so that they might consider taking steps to remove such obstacles as the Anglo-American-Chinese declaration placed in the way of Soviet good offices for peace. Lozovsky promised compliance with this request.139

In Tokyo, meanwhile, the publication of the Potsdam terms-even in abridged form-was beginning to produce important effects. The military in general remained adamantly opposed to acceptance, but on the other hand many senior diplomats and influential persons in business, politics and press circles began privately urging Marquis Kido and members of the Cabinet that it was necessary to take advantage of the Three-Power offer to bring a prompt end to the war.140

These were encouraging signs from the viewpoint of the Cabinet peace group. Yet it was readily apparent that the Potsdam Declaration had rendered the attitude of the military leaders, with the exception of Navy Minister Yonai, even more intransigent than it had been hitherto. The peace group therefore clung to the fast-vanishing hope of Soviet acceptance of the role of mediator as the sole means of finding a way out of this impasse.

The decision to await Russia's answer was thus dictated not only by the exigencies of the tenuous internal situation but with slim hope of Soviet acceptance of the mediator's role. It was also influenced, however, by the fact that at no time had the Potsdam Declaration, despite its threat of "prompt and utter destruction", been construed as an ultimatum, non-acceptance of which by Japan would result in anything worse than a gradual intensification of enemy action against the homeland, culminating in the final invasion itself. There was certainly no suspicion that the declaration constituted forewarning of immediate and more terrible reprisal if Japan did not yield.

On 6 August, just ten days after the receipt of the Potsdam Declaration, the people of Hiroshima tragically learned otherwise.


The Atomic Bomb

Hiroshima, situated in southwestern Honshu, was a city of 343,000. Its inhabitants considered themselves fortunate in that the city, thanks to its relative lack of war industry, had so far been over-looked by the enemy's incendiary-laden B-29's. However, it seemed problematical how long this good fortune would continue. Located in the city since April 1945 was the headquarters of the Second General Army, the top operational headquarters for southwestern Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. The next-door Inland Sea port of Ujina had lost its original importance as a military port for the shipment of troops and supplies overseas, but in the southeastern part of Hiroshima there remained a considerable number of military supply dumps and warehouses.

The 6th of August dawned sultry but fairly clear. At 0709 the early-warning radar net detected a small number of aircraft headed toward southern Japan, and a preliminary alert was sounded throughout the Hiroshima area. Radio stations promptly went off the air. Shortly thereafter, enemy planes circled over Hiroshima and withdrew without bombing. An "all clear" was sounded at 0730. People began their daily activities, thinking that the danger was past.

At 0800, however, two enemy B-29's were spotted heading toward Hiroshima. Radio broadcasting stations again issued a warning, telling the people that it would be advisable to take shelter if the enemy craft appeared over the city but that their mission appeared to be reconnaissance rather than bombing. Most factory and office workers had already reported to their places of employment, and those who were en route confidently continued on their way. The city's school children and some industrial workers were busily engaged in building firebreaks and evacuating valuables to the country.

Two B-29's soon appeared over the city, flying at high altitude. Since no bombing was expected, many people declined to take shelter and curiously watched the enemy planes as they came over. Observers later reported that they saw a parachute descend from one of the planes. Then, at approximately 0815, there was a terrific explosion over the central section of the city. A white flash of blinding intensity was all that many saw before they were struck down by the wall of searing heat that pushed outward from the explosion. As a huge cloud of smoke and dust spiralled up over the city, Hiroshima was cloaked in a ghastly pall of darkness. Then hundreds of fires, breaking out almost simultaneously, transformed the city into a blazing inferno.

By nightfall, Hiroshima had become a waste of ashes and smouldering ruins. The city writhed with the agony of its dazed, injured and dying. Those who had escaped with their lives, including many who had been horribly burned, streamed out of the city in confusion. Only the outlying southern and eastern sections of the city, where ironically most of the military supply installations were located, had escaped destruction.

Of the total civilian population of 343,000, approximately 78,150 were killed, with an additional 51,408 injured or missing. Military casualties, not included in these figures, were light. Nearly 48,000 of the total 76,327 buildings in Hiroshima had been completely destroyed, and 22,178 half-demolished or badly damaged. More than 176,987 persons were left homeless.141


Because of the complete disruption of communications in the stricken area, the first news of the catastrophe did not reach the Government in Tokyo until the afternoon of the 6th. The initial reports were meager and fragmentary, but they clearly indicated that the enemy had unleashed on Hiroshima a new-type bomb of unprecedented destructive power.

Early on 7 August, the Government and the High Command learned from American and British radio broadcasts that the destruction of Hiroshima had been wrought by an atomic bomb. President Truman's announcement to this effect shocked the Japanese authorities.142 Shortly thereafter, the Army and Navy in Tokyo received direct reports from Hiroshima and Kure telling of the immense havoc wrought by the enemy weapon.

At the Cabinet meeting which took place the same morning, Foreign Minister Togo gave a lengthy summation of the information contained in foreign broadcasts with regard to the atomic bomb and indirectly hinted that the Potsdam Declaration should be accepted. The service ministers presented preliminary reports on the effects of the Hiroshima bombing, but the Cabinet withheld its judgment pending further investigation.

The general public was not informed of the bombing officially until the following day. The newspapers on 8 August carried an Imperial General Headquarters communique, dated 7 August which merely stated that Hiroshima had been "considerably" damaged by a "new-type bomb." After considerable discussion it had been decided not to use the term "atomic bomb" in the communique until the facts had been established by an official investigation on the spot.

The investigating committee dispatched by the High Command reached Hiroshima on the 8th and swiftly confirmed that the extent and nature of the destruction pointed to the use of an atomic bomb.143 But even before official reports from this party reached Tokyo, Premier Suzuki and Foreign Minister Togo, aroused by the unusual importance attached to Hiroshima by the enemy radio, conferred and decided that Togo should communicate the substance of the Allied reports to the Emperor, recommending prompt acceptance of the Potsdam terms.

Received in audience at the Palace on the afternoon of the 8th, Togo conveyed to the Emperor his opinion that the atomic bomb would revolutionize modern warfare and warned that more bombs would probably be dropped on Japanese cities unless resolute action were taken to accept the Potsdam Declaration. The Emperor, in reply, agreed that Japan should no longer delay its decision to end the war and requested Togo to convey his wishes to the Premier. Suzuki then tried to convoke an immediate meeting of the Supreme War


Direction Council but was unable to do so because of the inability of some members to be present.144

Soviet Entry Into War

The Cabinet meanwhile hopefully awaited the long-delayed interview which Ambassador Sato was scheduled to have with Foreign Commissar Molotov at 2300 8 August (1700 hours, 8 August, Moscow Time.) Stalin and Molotov had returned to Moscow on 6 August, much later than the Japanese Government anticipated. Sato had requested an immediate interview, but not until 7 August, a day after the United States revealed to the world it had dropped its first atomic missile, did Molotov agree to a meeting.

Russia's stunning answer was a declaration of war. Within the hour that Molotov was delivering the abrupt reply, Red Army troops were attacking at various points along the long Manchurian frontier and the North Korean border, with the greatest concentration at points bordering Mongolia. South Sakhalin was also invaded simultaneously. At dawn Soviet planes were attacking cities in Manchuria and North Korea as well as Japanese convoys in the Japan Sea. Although the Soviet offensive was sluggish at the outset, the Kwantung Army, weakened by diversion initially of much of its strength to the Southern Regions and more recently for the defense of Japan Proper, was unable to check the enemy offensive.145

Neither the Government nor the High Command in Tokyo was aware of the Soviet action until 0400 hours, 9 August, when the Domei News Agency intercepted the Tass message which read as follows:146

With the defeat and capitulation of Hitlerite Germany, Japan remains the only great Axis power continuing the war.

With the rejection by the Japanese Government of the 26 July demand of the United States, Great Britain and China, for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces, the proposal of the Japanese Government to the Soviet Union with regard to mediation in the Far East loses its basis. In view of Japan's refusal to surrender, the Allied nations have submitted to the Soviet Government a proposal that it join the war against Japanese aggression, in order to hasten the end of the conflict, reduce the number of victims, and contribute to the early restoration of universal peace.

The Soviet Government, fulfilling its obligations to its Allies, has accepted this proposal by the Allied nations and has joined in their declaration of July 26. The Soviet Government considers that a policy such as it has adopted is the only means of expediting the return of peace, freeing the several peoples from further sacrifices and suffering and helping the Japanese nation avoid the dangers and destruction suffered by Germany after her refusal to surrender unconditionally.

For the foregoing reasons, the Soviet Government declares that as of tomorrow, 9 August, a state of war will exist between the Soviet Union and Japan.

The immediate reaction to the sudden Soviet attack was one of pained disappointment and


indignation. The Kremlin's declaration of war had shattered the last remaining hope of the Japanese to end the war through Soviet good offices. Premier Suzuki, upon hearing the news, remarked that the "inevitable has finally occurred."147

The Soviet entry into the war, coming quickly on the heels of the atom bomb, multiplied the urgency of arriving at a decision. The Government no longer could brook delays. When the atomic nature of the Hiroshima bombing had been finally confirmed, Suzuki, upon Togo's advice, had attempted to convoke the "Big Six" council that evening to secure a decision, but was forced to postpone the meeting until the morning of the 9th. Such being the case, the Emperor, Suzuki and Togo were ready to accept the Potsdam Declaration when they heard the Tass announcement of war.

At 0840, 9 August, Togo conferred with Suzuki on the unprecedentedly grave situation at the latter's home and reaffirmed their agree ment to place the prompt-surrender problem before the Big Six conference. En route back to, his office, the Foreign Minister stopped at the Navy Ministry where he obtained Yonai's prompt and willing consent to go along with Suzuki and Togo on accepting the Potsdam Declaration.

At 1000 hours, the Premier was at the Imperial Palace. There he was advised by Marquis Kido that the Emperor, who only a short time before had been notified by the Foreign Office of the Soviet act of war, had ordered him to point out to Suzuki the urgency of accepting the Declaration immediately.148 Suzuki, fearing it would be exceedingly difficult to secure swift unanimity on this grave and delicate issue, then requested and obtained the Emperor's assurance of an Imperial decision in the event of a deadlock.149

At 1030, following the Palace interviews, the six leaders of the Supreme War Direction Council were gathered at the Imperial Palace, at the summons of Suzuki, for a critical discussion of the surrender question, the first of a series of crucial parleys which eventually decided the fate of the nation. By this time the six leaders were all agreed that the situation was serious, but they had not made up their minds what the final decision would be.

Suzuki proposed at the outset that Japan should promptly accept the Potsdam Declaration, which was the Emperor's wish. In the ensuing discussion the following four points were considered: (1) the preservation of the "national polity," (2) the extent and nature of the Allied occupation of the homeland, (3) the disarmament of the military forces, and (4) the disposition of war criminals.150

The conferees promptly agreed that the first and most important condition must be that acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration would not endanger the "national polity," or the prerogatives of the Imperial family. But Anami, the War Minister, and Umezu, Chief of Army General Staff, insisted that three additional conditions be approved

1. That the Japanese military forces overseas be disarmed and demobilized by Japan itself ;


2. That all war criminals be prosecuted by the Japanese Government itself; and,

3. That there be no Allied occupation of Japan.151

The principle of self-disarmament was endorsed by Admiral Toyoda, Chief of Navy General Staff. He reluctantly supported Anami and Umezu on the two other conditions. Foreign Minister Togo, however, vigorously opposed any extra conditions. He warned that to press for terms other than the sole reservation governing the Imperial prerogatives would jeopardize the peace negotiations even before they started. Both Suzuki and Yonai supported Togo in his agruments, but after three hours of inconclusive deliberations, the Council was forced to adjourn in a deadlock.

First Cabinet Deliberations on Peace

The issue of immediate peace or continued war was then submitted by the Premier to a full dress Cabinet session at 1430, at which time Togo revealed to his Ministers for the first time the secret peace maneuvers which had thus far been the principal preoccupation of the Supreme War Direction Council.152 Following a detailed explanation of the peace effort, Suzuki hoped to elicit the frank opinions of each Minister on the issue of peace before finally casting the die in the fateful deliberations. Suzuki emphasized both the gravity of the situation and the imperativeness of reaching an immediate decision, but the Cabi net wrangled indecisively for more than seven hours without nearing an agreement.

In the Cabinet considerations, as in the earlier Council deliberations, the two opposing views represented by Togo, Suzuki and Yonai on one side, and Anami on the other, were clearly delineated. The pro-surrender group saw no hope of victory. They were convinced that war meant only more destruction and ultimate extinction of the nation itself, and that the Potsdam Declaration offered acceptable terms. The opposing group, maintaining that the real test of Japan's strength was yet to come in the expected Homeland battle, argued that once severe casualties had been inflicted on the invasion force, it would be possible to terminate, the war on more favorable terms.

Foreign Minister Togo, the outspoken peace advocate, reminded his colleagues that the atom bomb (a second atomic bomb had been dropped at 1103 hours that morning, 9 August)153 and the Soviet war on Japan had further strengthened the hands of the Allies since the Potsdam ultimatum was issued and insisted that there was no way open for hard diplomatic bargaining in view of the uncompromising nature of the


Declaration. Japan, he proposed, should accept the Allied terms with only the reservation governing the Imperial family attached.

War Minister Anami rejected Togo's arguments and while admitting that the Soviet Union could take over Manchuria, where the heaviest fighting was occurring, in two or three months time, he attempted to minimize the effectiveness of the atom bomb on the home front. Far from giving up, he concluded, Japan should insist on the four conditions discussed by the six leaders of the Supreme War Direction Council that morning, and continue hostilities in the event those conditions were rejected.

The protracted and grim debate was punctuated by heated argument between the War and Navy Ministers on Japan's ability to continue the war. Yonai, painting a definitely pessimistic picture, emphasized that the capacity to wage war should be viewed from over-all considerations and that since the problem of continuing the war was a matter to be decided on the basis of a total war, he suggested that the conditions in the munitions, food producing and transportation industries, as well as morale problems, should be discussed frankly. By so doing, he said, the Government would obtain a clear over-all appraisal of the real situation. The extremely depressing reports by the Ministers in charge on these questions bore out Yonai's deep concern.154

Suzuki then requested each Minister to state his views on Togo's proposal that Japan accept the Declaration subject to the one provision. At the conclusion of the Cabinet session, the lineup on the Togo proposal stood as follows Against-War Minister Anami, Home Minister Abe and Justice Minister Matsuzaka: For-Foreign Minister Togo and Navy Minister Yonai. Although one or two remained non-committal, the others favored intermediate positions with most of them leaning toward Togo. A suggestion by Education Minister Ota that the Cabinet resign because of its inability to resolve the impasse was quickly scotched by Suzuki.

With time growing short and the conferees weary of discussion, Suzuki ordered a recess at 2230 and sought to settle the matter by resuming the morning deliberation of the Supreme War Direction Council in the presence of the Emperor. Suzuki directly informed the Emperor that he was unable to achieve the necessary unanimity required of a Cabinet decision and petitioned the Emperor for a conference. This meeting was arranged to invoke the Emperor's will.155

Showdown on Surrender Issue

At 2330, an hour after the end of the heated Cabinet session, the "Big Six" council sat down with the Emperor in an air raid shelter


Plate No. 165, Imperial Conference of 9-10 August 1945

Imperial Conference of 9-10 August 1945


deep inside the Imperial Palace for a showdown on the surrender question. Present also were the president of the Privy Council, Baron Kiichiro Hiranuma and the Chief Aide-de-Camp, General Shigeru Hasunuma;156 the Chief Cabinet Secretary Sakomizu and three other officials occupying important position in the over-all direction of the war.157

Sakomizu, on orders of Suzuki, read the Potsdam Declaration to the Emperor, and then the Premier himself placed on the agenda as the subject of consideration the following proposal, which had been drafted by the Foreign Minister:158

The Japanese Government is ready to end the war under terms of the Three Power joint Declaration of 26 July 1945 with the understanding that the said Declaration does not comprise any demand prejudicial to the status of the Imperial family under the fundamental law of the nation.

The Premier explained that this proposal had been submitted in preference to the other plan containing the four conditions because the majority of the Cabinet had favored, or at least desired, a minimum of reser vations. This maneuver was a disappointment to Anami and the bitter-end resistance faction.159 Backing up Suzuki, the Foreign Minister then strongly reiterated his position that the Allies could not be prevailed upon to ease surrender terms through negotiations. Japan, he insisted, should not propose any new conditions. To this, the Navy Minister expressed complete agreement.

The War Minister, however, remained adamant, stressing that acceptance of the Potsdam terms would result in national ruin. The four conditions were a minimum which Japan could consider, he asserted, adding that the very fact that Soviet Union had joined the Declaration had made acceptance even more unpalatable. Anami expressed the Army's confidence in Japan's ability to secure better terms and voiced the fear that if the Government ended the war without attempting further clarification, there would be chaos in the country.

Full concurrence with Anami's views was expressed by the Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs.160 Hiranuma made a number of pointed inquiries on the state of defense preparations and then agreed in principle with the Togo plan but suggested that the wording of the draft reply be amended to read that any Allied demand would not prejudice the prerogatives of the Emperor as a sovereign ruler. Hira-


numa emphasized the point that Japan's ability to continue the war should be considered before negotiating for additional conditions. For this reason, he said, it was important to consider the condition of the civilian population as well as the strength of the armed forces. In the end, he felt, however, that the ultimate decision of surrender rested with the Emperor.

It was already past 0200 on 10 August; the cleavage in the council was as pronounced as ever. The Premier noted that despite several hours of continous discussion, the question remained unsettled; that in this extremely crucial hour there could be no further delays. Under the circumstances, he was proposing the Emperor's wish be made known. Suzuki, stepping forward in an unexampled act in Japan's constitutional history, requested the Emperor to state his opinion, and at the same time, pleaded with the group to accept the Emperor's resolve as final.161

The Emperor asserted at the start that he was in complete accord with the views of the Foreign Minister and then proceeded to give his reasons. To continue the war in the light of the world situation and Japan's internal conditions would be suicidal, he said, adding that to end the war on this occasion was the only way to save the nation from destruction.

He then pointed to the record of the military. The Emperor said it was apparent that their performance had fallen far short of the plans and promises expressed, pointing out that although he had been assured many times in the past that victory was certain, it had not been realized. Despite the War Minister's promise that the fortifications along the Kujukuri-Hama coast (in Chiba Prefecture) would be completed by the middle of August, they were far from completion. He said it had also been brought to his attention that new Army divisions had been organized, but that there were no arms with which to equip them.

In short, he said he could see no hope of victory over the highly mechanized Allied forces. He stressed, in conclusion, that he was deeply cognizant of the feelings of the sorrowed families of the war dead and the tremendous sacrifices made by the armed forces during the period of hostilities, but that for more important considerations he had decided that the war should be stopped.162

The Imperial wish had been made unmistakably clear. Suzuki then emphasized that this should be the conclusion of the conference.

The tense momentous meeting was finally adjourned at 0230, and half an hour later the Cabinet reconvened at the Premier's official residence where the Ministers had been waiting anxiously since the recess of the previous evening. Togo reported to his colleagues that his proposal had been adopted by the


Imperial conference with a revision as suggested by Hiranuma. Both he and Suzuki were emphatic on the fact that the decision to surrender was the will of the Emperor. This time the full Cabinet unanimously agreed to Togo's proposal and signed the necessary document of approval.163 The weary session broke up at 0400 hours, 10 August.

Initial Reply to Potsdam

At 0700 on 10 August a message including the following passages was transmitted to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and China, through the intermediary of Switzerland and Sweden.164

In obedience to the gracious command of His Majesty the Emperor who, ever anxious to enhance the cause of world peace, desires earnestly to bring about a speedy termination of hostilities with a view to saving mankind from the calamities to be imposed upon them by further continuation of the war, the Japanese Government several weeks ago asked the Soviet Government, with which neutral relations then prevailed, to render good offices in restoring peace vis-a-vis the enemy powers. Unfortunately, these efforts in the interest of peace having failed, the Japanese Government in conformity with the august wish of His Majesty to restore the general peace and desiring to put an end to the untold suffering entailed by war as quickly as possible, have decided upon the following:

The Japanese Government is ready to accept the terms enumerated in the joint declaration which was issued at Potsdam on July 26th, 1945, by the heads of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and China, and later subscribed by the Soviet Government, with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.

The Japanese Government sincerely hope that this understanding is warranted and desire keenly that an explicit indication to that effect will be speedily forthcoming.

But a real difficulty lay in the problem of how to prepare for surrender of a nation, which for months had been geared and groomed for war to the bitter finish. In the first place, it was virtually certain that the war faction would not be satisfied with this decision; in fact, there was danger of a coup d'etat. Moreover, it was almost impossible to keep such a drastic, volte-face in national policy hidden for long from the public, as well as the ever-watchful eye of the military. Indeed, as early as 10 August, officer elements in the Army, Navy and the High Command had become increasingly restive.

Thus, on the morning of 10 August, soon after the official reply had been sent to the Allies, General Anami felt it necessary to warn his subordinates in the War Ministry against any overt attempts to obstruct the Government's surrender decision.165 At the same time, Admiral Toyoda, Chief of the Navy General Staff, noting the mounting restless atmosphere within his office, delivered a similar warning.166

The Cabinet was caught in a dilemma.


Unless the secret peace maneuvers were brought to fruition quickly, there were growing possibilities of an armed revolt. Yet, there were at the same time great uncertainties about the nature of the expected Allied reply. An unfavorable answer might force a fundamental reconsideration of the surrender question.

Under these circumstances, the Cabinet met again at 1400 to discuss what measures should be taken to make known the fateful decision, but here again there was a fresh clash of views. While some Ministers favored an immediate and frank explanation by the Government, others advised extreme caution. It was agreed in the end that no announcement of the negotiations would be made until an Imperial Rescript proclaiming Japan's acceptance of the Potsdam terms was issued. Instead, the nation would be directed obliquely toward peace in a piecemeal and gradual manner consistent with all developments.

The initial step in that course was taken through an official announcement made in the name of the President of the Cabinet Information Board. After drawing the nation's attention to the grave situation facing Japan as a result of two successive events-the employment by the United States of the extremely destructive atom bomb and the Soviet entry into the Pacific war, the statement read in conclusion:

" Despite the prompt action taken by our forces to check enemy aggression, we must admit our fortunes are now at their lowest ebb. The Government will do its utmost to defend the national polity and the honor of the nation. But at the same time, the Government expects you, the one hundred million people of Japan, to overcome all difficulties to uphold our national polity.167

The statement, although pregnant with weighty implications, was vague and ambiguous. It also reflected the delicate situation which existed in the Government and military circles in the period just prior to the surrender. The original draft prepared by the President of the Cabinet Information Board Shimomura had been reworded after lengthy discussion before its release to the press. The Cabinet felt, however, that it should refrain from going beyond this line for the present. Hardly had the announcement been drafted when Shimo mura was urgently notified that the newspapers had been requested by the Army to publish some "Instructions to Officers and Men" under the name of the War Minister, the essence of which was in direct contravention to the spirit and intent of the Cabinet statement. This proclamation, prepared by the Military Affairs Bureau of the War Ministry, had been sent to the Tokyo newspapers by junior officers of the organization with the request that it be published together with the Cabinet's announcement. Newspaper editors, recognizing the subtle discrepancies between the two statements, referred the matter to the Cabinet Information Board.

This development touched off a flurry of telephone conversations between the Cabinet Information Board, the Premier's secretariat, and the War Ministry on how to deal with the embarrassing situation. The Chief Cabinet Secretary urged Shimomura to suspend the War Minister's pronunciamento since it was sure to create confusion. However, on the ground that it was too late to suppress the Army release, it was finally decided between Anami and Shimomura to let the matter take its own course.168


Thus, in the newspapers of 11 August, the Japanese public read with no little amazement the cryptic Cabinet statement, alongside of which was the War Minister's instructions, in large type, which read substantially as follows:169

Instructions to all officers and men of the Army:

The Soviet Union has finally taken up arms against this Empire. Try as she may to disguise the facts by rhetoric, her aspirations to conquer and dominate Greater East Asia are obvious. In the face of this reality, we shall waste no words. The only thing for us to do is to fight doggedly to the end in this holy war for the defense of our divine land.

It is our firm belief that though it may mean chewing grass, eating dirt, and sleeping in the field, a resolute fight will surely reveal a way out of a desperate situation ....

10 August 1945
Minister of War

The Government's intention-to disclose by degrees its resolution to accept the Potsdam terms provided the national polity was preserved-was thus obscured by the non-committal phraseology of the Cabinet Information Board announcement and the simultaneous release of the War Minister's belligerent proclamation. The fundamental course had been determined, but the abrupt about-face from total war to unconditional surrender was no easy matter to achieve.

Final Imperial Conference on

Shortly before 0100 on 12 August, the Foreign Office intercepted a U. S. shortwave broadcast from San Francisco, which disclosed U. S. Secretary of State Byrnes' eagerly-awaited reply to the Japanese communication of 10 August. From the Japanese point of view, the Allied broadcast evaded a definite reply to Japan's requested reservation on the Emperor's prerogatives, around which the whole crucial surrender issue revolved. The Allied reply left much to interpretation and inference. The terms were stated in five brief paragraphs as follows:170

With regard to the Japanese Government's message accepting the terms of the Potsdam proclamation but containing the statement, 'with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a sovereign ruler,' our position is as follows-

From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the State shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate the surrender terms.

The Emperor will be required to authorize and ensure the signature by the Government of Japan and the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters of the surrender terms necessary to carry out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration, and shall issue his com-


mands to all the Japanese military, naval and air authorities and to all the forces under their control wherever located to cease active operations and to surrender their arms, and to issue such other orders as the Supreme Commander may require to give effect to the surrender terms.

Immediately upon the surrender the Japanese Government shall transport prisoners of war and civilian internees to places of safety, as directed, where they can quickly be placed aboard Allied transports.

The ultimate form of Government of Japan shall, in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration, be established by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people.

The armed forces of the Allied Powers will remain in Japan until the purposes set forth in the Potsdam Declaration are achieved.

An immediate study of the broadcast reply was undertaken by Foreign Vice-Minister Shunichi Matsumoto, together with Chief Cabinet Secretary Sakomizu. A hurried examination was also made by the High Command which had received the monitored text from the Army and Navy intelligence network. At 0800 as the Foreign Vice-Minister and Togo agreed to press for acceptance of the Allied terms, Sakomizu was advising the Premier to accept the Byrnes' reply.

The evasive Allied attitude toward the Emperor's ultimate position, however, aroused high military quarters and stiffened their attitude toward the whole surrender problem. At 0820, General Umezu and Admiral Toyoda, the respective Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs, went to the Imperial Palace together and made a joint plea to the Emperor to reject the Allied conditions.

They declared that the terms subjecting the Emperor to the will of the Allied Supreme Commander was tantamount to reducing Japan to a mere vassalage; the Emperor would be placed in a subordinate position, a situation which neither the Army nor the Navy could countenance. They argued that acceptance of the terms would invite internal chaos and result in the ultimate removal of the Imperial family.171

The news of the Allied answer generated uneasiness in Army circles, and the threat of an organized Army coup d'etat, which had long been feared by the peace group, appeared to take concrete form. Soon after Toyoda and Umezu had returned from their unscheduled Palace visit, a group of young officers in the War Ministry appeared before Anami, suggesting that the Army undertake a coup, if necessary, to stop the peace movement. Anami, however, smothered the suggestion of rebellion by adroitly evading a definite commitment; yet, at the same time, he went to Suzuki to voice his opposition to the Allied reply.172

The text of the Allied broadcast and the Foreign Office's interpretation of the terms were submitted to the Emperor at 1100 by Foreign Minister Togo, shortly after he had conferred with Suzuki. Immediately there after, Togo met with Marquis Kido, the Em peror's personal advisor, and received assur-


ances of his support in the event further op position developed over the interpretations put on the Allied communication. Togo, while confident of his assessment of the Allied reply-that is, the Allies eventually would allow the Emperor to remain-feared that the opposition might seize upon Paragraph Four173 as an argument against capitulation, and thus disrupt the existing unanimity in Government councils.

Meanwhile, Navy Minister Yonai, infuriated by reports that Toyoda had joined Umezu in the palace protestation, reprimanded him for his "thoughtless and irresponsible" act. It was to guard against such actions, he pointed out angrily, that the Navy only a day earlier had instructed local commanders to keep a strict watch over the activities of their subordinates.174

The repercussions of the Allied broadcasts became more manifest in Japanese political circles that afternoon. At 1250, Baron Hiran uma, President of the Privy Council who enjoyed a wide personal following in ultra-nationalistic groups, called on the Premier, and later, on the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, to register his opposition to the Allied reply. Hiranuma urged both Suzuki and Kido to press the United States for a clarification on its ultimate position vis-a-vis the Emperor disclosing at the same time that the worst possible interpretations were being put on the Allied broadcasts.175

The Emperor, undeterred by the impassioned pleas of the High Command representatives summoned the Imperial princes and the families of the princes of the blood to a Palace meeting at 1500 to solicit their support in his resolve for peace. The meeting was to last for nearly three hours, during the course of which he reaffirmed his determination to end the war. At that same hour, the Cabinet, without waiting for the formal Allied communication, was called into an extraordinary session at the Premier's official residence to exchange opinions on the broadcast reply.

Foreign Minister Togo, reporting on the broadcast text, admitted at the outset that the Allied terms could not be considered satisfactory in every respect, but that to make any request for clarification of the Emperor's status or to submit additional reservations would be dangerous. He said that such action could be interpreted by the Allies as an indication of Japan's intention to break off negotiations.

Togo argued at length that however odious and unpleasant were the Allied terms, especially those assigning the position of the Emperor, the fulfillment of the provisions embodied in Paragraphs One and Two, not to mention the all-important Paragraph Four, would, in effect, mean that the status of the Emperor would remain unchanged.176


Plate No. 166, Paying Homage to Nation's War Dead, Yasukuni Shrine

Paying Homage to Nation's War Dead, Yasukuni Shrine


War Minister Anami, together with Home Minister Abe and Justice Minister Matsuzaka, argued that no such interpretation could be placed on the Allied reply and insisted that further inquiries be made. Anami further argued for the attachment of two conditions governing disarmament and occupation, which had been shelved previously.

But more disconcerting to Togo and the peace bloc than the indefinitive arguments was the surprising, stiffening attitude of Suzuki as the deliberations progressed. Suzuki, revealing dissatisfaction with the Allied reply, stated bluntly that there was no alternative but to continue the war. Togo replied sharply that Japan should not continue the war irresponsibly and that unless there were some prospects of victory the Government should forge ahead with its peace negotiations.

Suzuki's unexpected wavering was a sharp disappointment to Togo, who now was virtually fighting a single-handed battle. It was past 1725; the Cabinet had been wrangling heatedly for more than two hours. Fearing that any further discussion would end in a victory for the continued-war faction, as symbolized by Anami, Togo suggested that the meeting adjourn until a formal communication had been received from the Allies.

Following the meeting, Togo upbraided Suzuki for his vacillation and warned that he would take the issue personally to the Emperor if the Premier persisted on talking of continued war.177 Togo then returned to the Foreign Office and conferred with his aide, Matsumoto, at which time it was decided to withhold news of the expected Allied reply until the peace faction could induce Suzuki to recant. Both Togo and Matsumoto felt that to reopen the deliberations that same night under such adverse circumstances would be fatal.178

At 1830, Togo called at the Imperial Palace where he urged Kido to exercise his influence in swinging Suzuki back to the peace fold. The Foreign Minister expressed doubt that the peace moves could be successfully culminated unless immediate action was taken.

In the meantime, the formal Allied reply, dated 11 August and signed by U. S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes on behalf of the Allied Governments, was received officially by the Foreign Office, almost 12 hours after its dispatch from Berne, Switzerland. The communication was found to be identical with the broadcast text from San Francisco, but its receipt was kept secret.179

Later that evening, at 2130, Suzuki was prevailed upon by Kido to accept Togo's interpretation of the Allied terms and to go ahead resolutely on that basis. Suzuki was warned that continued resistance would only compound Japan's misery and that any hesitation or wavering at this point would be extremely hazardous. Suzuki concurred with Kido.180

At 0210, 13 August, the Foreign Office received an urgent cablegram from Suemasa Okamoto, the Japanese Minister to Sweden, which reported that the United States, in


mapping the reply to the surrender offer, had stoutly resisted heavy pressures by the Soviet Union and China for outright removal of the Emperor.181

Armed with this telegram, Matsumoto, on his own initiative, hurriedly conferred with Sakomizu and then with the Premier, pointing out that the message, in effect, supported Togo's strong contention that any attempt by Japan to clarify the Emperor issue would result in a severance of the negotiations. He warned that to quibble over terms would only be playing into the hands of the intransigent elements in the Allied camp who were bitterly opposed to the retention of the Emperor system. Suzuki agreed promptly to accept the Allied terms.

At 0730, Anami paid an unexpected call on Kido and restated his objections to Paragraph Four. Kido pointed out that should Japan refuse to accept the Allied terms she would do so without any valid reason, and emphasized that the Allies would find it difficult to understand the change in attitude. This reaction, he concluded, would do more harm than good. They parted without agreement. In the meantime, the Emperor was informed by the Foreign Minister that the Allied note was identical in wording to the broadcast reply.

At 0900, Suzuki fortified with renewed determination from the night before, convoked an urgent meeting of the six leaders of the Supreme War Direction Council-its first on the Allied reply. As had been the case of the 9 August meeting, the deliberations were characterized by violent clashes of opinion, and the same cleavage persisted with the Premier, Navy and Foreign Ministers aligned on one side and the War Minister and the Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs on the other.

Anami, Umezu and Toyoda argued it was inconceivable that the authority of the Emperor should be subjected to the restrictions imposed by the Allied supreme commander. They emphatically objected to Paragraph Four, expressing the fear that the ultimate expression of the people's will would be coercively channelled by the occupying powers. The negotiations, they insisted, must be continued until there was no doubt as to the Emperor's position.

Suzuki, Togo and Yonai explained that the Allied demands were reasonable since the limitations to be imposed by the Allied Occupation commander on the Emperor's prerogatives would only be within the sphere of the fulfillment of the surrender terms. They argued further that the clause governing the ultimate form of government was an implied guarantee that the Japanese people would not be coerced by the Allies. They cited the case of the Saar plebiscite, calling attention to the fact that the outcome of this issue would depend solely upon the Japanese people themselves. To attempt any further negotiations, they maintained adamantly, would only imperil Japan's final chance to sue for peace.

The cleavage widened rather than narrowed as the procrastinating debate continued. With the six leaders showing no sign of reaching an agreement, Suzuki called an adjournment of the session at 1500 and ordered a full Cabinet meeting for 1600 hours. The arena of discussion again shifted back to the Cabinet.

This time, Premier Suzuki took a more positive and aggressive role in the discussions. He asked each member of his Cabinet to express his real feelings on the Allied offer. The majority favored outright acceptance. Home Minister Abe and Justice Minister Matsuzaka, who earlier had lined up with Anami in opposing the Allied terms,


agreed eventually to leave the final decision up to the Emperor.

Anami alone stubbornly refused to back down. Moreover, he insisted on appending the two conditions governing self-disarmament and the Allied occupation of the homeland. On this point, Togo again maintained that the conditions should . be proposed separately as mere solicitations, a proposal which most of the Ministers supported. He warned repeatedly that insistence on further negotiations might allow time for opposition to gain strength in the Allied camp to the retention of any form of the Imperial family system. Thus, the Cabinet deliberated inconclusively again for more than three hours before adjournment.182

That same afternoon Japanese monitors heard U.S. broadcasts in which charges were renewed that the Japanese Government was deliberately delaying a reply. American carrier aircraft meanwhile struck viciously in increasingly bold sweeps throughout the Kanto area. Enemy carrier strikes were also made in other areas of northern Japan.

The surrender discussions had now been deadlocked for more than four days, and the hour of decision had arrived. The Premier, who had thus far failed by persuasion and arguments to steer the Cabinet and the Big Six council, urgently sought to settle the matter once and for all at what he hoped would be a conclusive meeting in the Emperor's presence. The War Minister and the Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs, however, refused to sanction Suzuki's request for an Imperial conference.183

An hour after the Cabinet had adjourned at 1930, Umezu, Toyoda and Togo met at the Premier's official residence. This unscheduled meeting, urged by both Chiefs of General Staffs, continued for two hours and was merely a futile repetition of the old arguments. The two Chiefs of General Staff refused to accept Togo's interpretation of the Allied reply and pressed him to request the American Covernment to confirm his interpretation. Togo desisted, declaring that such a move would be construed as a refusal of the proffered terms and thus irreparably wreck Japan's last diplomatic chances.

Meanwhile, at the War Minister's official residence at Miyakezaka, Anami was closeted with several of his subordinates in a meeting beginning at 2000, 13 August, to hear a plan for a coup d'etat. According to this plan the coup was to be carried out after obtaining approval from both the War Minister and the Chief of Army General Staff. The officials, representing the bitter-end resistance faction, attempted in vain to secure a clear-cut commitment from Anami, and the meeting broke up with an assurance by the War Minister that a definite reply would be forth-coming "tomorrow."184


Early on the morning of 14 August, American planes dropped over Japanese cities, including Tokyo, leaflets containing the Japanese Government's offer of 10 August to accept the Potsdam terms and the Allied reply written in Japanese. The secret negotiations, which the Government had tried to conceal from the public, were now revealed.

At 0830, Kido, carrying one of the leaflets, went directly to the Emperor and urgently advised him to take prompt action. Explaining he feared the leaflets would have a profound effect on the armed forces and on the people, he emphasized that every moment peace was delayed was dangerous. He pointed out the humiliating effect the enemy's disclosure of the Cabinet's secret maneuvers would have on the homeland troops who were being deployed against an invasion, stressing that their attitude would give the extremists a powerful weapon with which to oppose the Emperor's will to sue for peace. It was imperative, therefore, that the Emperor declare war be ended immediately lest he might lose control of the armed forces in the field. The Emperor readily agreed.

Soon after the audience, Kido conferred with Premier Suzuki who had come to the Palace to seek the Emperor's assistance in convoking an Imperial conference. Suzuki revealed the Government's helpless resulting from the unyielding attitude of the Chiefs of Army and Navy General Staffs. Both he and Kido agreed it was useless to engage in further discussions and that in view of the increasingly perilous situation a final showdown was immediately necessary. Both men then held a joint audience with the Emperor shortly before 0900 and petitioned him to convoke on his own initiative an Imperial conference in defiance of a time-honored precedent.185

At 1000, the Emperor, in furtherance of his peace resolution, summoned Fleet Admiral Osami Nagano, Field Marshals Sugiyama and Shunroku Hata, the highest ranking military men present in the homeland at the time, and requested them to secure the obedient compliance of the armed forces to his surrender decision.186

Thus occurred the climactic development when the full Cabinet, the two Chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staffs, the President of the Privy Council, and the secretaries of the Supreme War Direction Council were urgently summoned to assemble at the Imperial Palace. The Cabinet Ministers had gathered at the Premier's official residence in a meeting scheduled for 1000, and when they received the Imperial summons they had no time to change to court clothing, so they were given special permission to proceed to the palace in their


regular business suits.

The final pre-surrender conference began at 1100 in the same air raid shelter in the Palace where, on 9-10 August, the Emperor had revealed unmistakably his desire for peace. Suzuki opened the meeting with a brief review of developments since 10 August. The Premier noted that most of the Cabinet members were in favor of accepting the Potsdam terms, but there had been no unanimity. He then proposed that the Emperor hear the opposing views before making a final decision. He named in turn the Chief of the Army General Staff, the Chief of the Navy General Staff, and the War Minister to express their views.

The three hold-outs voiced the same opinions and tearfully pleaded for further inquiries of the Allies, asserting that under the stated terms of the Byrnes' communication it would be difficult for Japan to preserve her national polity. If that were not possible, they concluded it would be better to continue the war. No others were called upon by the Premier to speak.

The Emperor then broke the grim silence and poignantly reiterated the Imperial wish, his voice trembling with emotion. He desired that all members agree with him. He said he was of the opinion that the Allied reply was satisfactory; that this opinion was unchanged since 10 August; and that his decision was based on a studied observation of the world and domestic situations. Continued war, he emphasized again, would mean ultimate destruction of Japan, whereas otherwise the nation's revival could be assured as long as the "seeds and source" existed. He pleaded with his audience to put aside personal sentiments.

The Emperor spoke with choked emotion as he referred to the plight of the war sufferers and the families of the war dead and said he would do everything he could for their consolation. While admitting fear that the shock of surrender would be especially far-reaching in the armed forces, the Emperor emphasized he was ready to appeal directly to his troops if necessary-he was willing to undertake any task which would facilitate the conclusion of hostilities.187

Finally, he offered to make a radio broadcast to the people of his decision to surrender and asked his Ministers to draw up a rescript ending the war. The attendants wept aloud at the Emperor's unprecedented plea. Suzuki then assured the Emperor a rescript would be prepared immediately. The historic Imperial conference was concluded at noon.188

Japan's Reply to Final Allied Offer

With the Imperial verdict unequivocally stated, the Cabinet members, upon whom lay the official responsibility for surrender, met at the Premier's official residence at 1300 to give the finishing touches to a draft Imperial Rescript which had been under preparation by the Cabinet secretariat since the Imperial conference of 10 August. Emphasis was placed on the Emperor's statements he had made at the Imperial conference on 10 August.

Although it had been feared by many Cabinet members that Anami might tender his resignation at this critical moment and thus compel the whole Cabinet to collapse, the War Minister chatted amiably with his colleagues,


and participated actively in the discussions on the Rescript. If the outcome had been a crushing defeat for the War Minister, he showed no outwards signs of it.189

At 2100 , after nearly eight hours of continuous discussion, the Cabinet finished the word ing of the draft rescript, after which it was taken to the Emperor immediately by the Premier for his seal and signature. The Ministers then counter-signed the Rescript to formalize the Emperor's surrender decision. It was already 2250. At that same moment, the Emperor was recording his impending broadcast message on a phonograph disc in the room of the Imperial Household Ministry. At 2300, the Imperial Rescript was ordered to be proclaimed but because of printing difficulties it was not until the following day that the official copies were distributed. Japan's surrender, however, had become effective at 2300, 14 August.190

With the promulgation of the Rescript, the following telegram, which had been prepared by Togo earlier in consultation with Foreign Office experts, was swiftly dispatched to the four Allied Governments through the facilities of the Swiss Government:191

With reference to the Japanese Government's note of August 10 regarding its acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration and the reply of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and China sent by the American Secretary of State Byrnes under the date of August is, the Japanese Government has the honor to communicate to the Governments of the four Powers as follows:

1. His Majesty the Emperor has issued an Imperial Rescript regarding Japan's acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration.

2. His Majesty the Emperor is prepared to authorize and ensure the signature by His Government and the Imperial General Headquarters of the necessary terms for carrying out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration. His Majesty is also prepared to issue his commands to all the military, naval and air authorities of Japan and all forces under their control wherever located to cease active operations, to surrender arms and to issue such other orders as may be required by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers for the execution of the above-mentioned terms.

The long internal struggle was over. The Emperor's will had prevailed, and the die was cast for peace.


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