America and the Origins of World War II, 1933-1941: New Perspectives in History

By Arnold A. Offner | Go to book overview

IV The Nuances of Negotiations, 1941

In the spring of 1941 the United States and Japan made a major effort to resolve their differences, and avoid a military confrontation, over the issues which long antedated and were now exacerbated by the Sino-Japanese war. The Americans and the Japanese entered into bilateral negotiations, which were held in the informal atmosphere of Secretary of State Cordell Hull's Washington hotel apartment and stretched out over nine months. The problems that plagued the negotiators were more than just substantive issues; there were also dimly perceived but no less critical problems of language, communication, and understanding, as is made clear in Part IV in Robert J. C. Butow's article, "The Hull-Nomura Conversations: A Fundamental Misconception" ( 1960) and in an excerpt from Paul W. Schroeder's The Axis Alliance and JapaneseAmerican Relations, 1941 ( 1958). Butow, who has thoroughly explored Japanese sources, explains the internal problems of language and communication that the Japanese suffered, and how the failure of Japan's negotiator in Washington, Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura, to report adequately to his government the famous "four principles" that Hull marked out in April 1941 led the Japanese in the fall of 1941 to think that the United States was escalating its demands for a proposed settlement of the Sino- Japanese war when in fact the Americans were reiterating the position that they had taken at the outset of the talks. Schroeder, in the first half of his chapter on "The American Policy and Public Opinion," counterbalances Butow's revelation by showing that the American negotiating position over the Sino-Japanese conflict gradually evolved from a "defensive" one, i.e., seeking to halt hostilities and the further southward movement of the Japanese, to an "offensive" one, i.e., seeking by principle to force Japan to withdraw its troops from China as a basis for negotiations. This change, neither underhanded nor even carefully planned, Schroeder explains, ultimately "made the crucial difference between peace and war." The juxtaposition of Butow's and Schroeder's analyses

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America and the Origins of World War II, 1933-1941: New Perspectives in History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • I - The Old Historical Debate 1
  • II - The Consensus on Appeasement, 1933-1938 25
  • III - Between Peace and War, 1939-1941 77
  • IV - The Nuances of Negotiations, 1941 125
  • V - The Axis and Aggression, 1941 157
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 222
  • List of Persons 227
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