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Editorial Note on Japan’s Decision for War
At a November 5 Imperial Conference, Japanese leaders opted for war if the United States and Great Britain did not meet their demands by November 25. To break the stalemate, Ambassador Kurusu proposed a truce on November 20 that would return diplomatic relations to the status quo ante July 26, 1941: Japan would withdraw from southern Indochina pending the restoration of peace with China or a general peace settlement in the Pacific; the United States would lift trade restrictions while pledging not to interfere with any China settlement. To establish a modus vivendi for the Far East, Roosevelt was ready to release frozen assets if Japan withdrew troops from southern Indochina. The president refused, however, to accommodate Japanese expansion in China, even within the framework of the Kurusu proposal. After it received only half-hearted support from Britain and opposition from China, Roosevelt dropped his proposal. (Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence, ed. Warren F. Kimball, 3 vols. [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984], 1: 275-78.) A formidable Japanese task force sailed on November 26 to attack the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 685.