Saturday, January 26, 2019

November 5, 1941: Last Peace Effort By Japan

Wednesday 5 November 1941

Harlingen bomb damage, 5 November 1941,
Bomb damage from an Allied raid of 5 November 1941 in Harlingen, the Netherlands (Collection of Griet De Jong).
US/Japanese Relations: The Japanese government has made its preparations for war by 5 November 1941. The plans have been drawn up, the difficulties such as developing torpedoes to accommodate the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor have been overcome, and the Emperor has signed off on the overall plan.

Fita Benkhoff, 5 November 1941,
Fita Benkhoff in the 5 November 1941 Filmwoche magazine. Fita was a German actress who appeared in over 100 films from the 1930s until her death on 26 October 1941. It is alleged that Benkhoff was an example of a lesbian who carefully hid that status during the Third Reich.
Now that they are fully prepared, though, there is a moment of hesitation by the Japanese. Everyone realizes the enormity of what is about to transpire. The government holds an Imperial Conference in the morning. Emperor Hirohito is not warlike, so the government gives peace one last chance. The Foreign Office sends Saburo Kurusu, a well-traveled professional diplomat whose only moment of celebrity was signing the Tripartite Pact on Japan's behalf in Berlin on 27 September 1940, to Washington as a "special envoy."

New Zealand troops in Libya, 5 November 1941,
New Zealand troops entering Libya from Egypt through the defensive wire, November 1941 (New Zealand History).
Kurusu will not have much time - the trip to the United States capital will take ten days, and the Japanese task forces will have to depart roughly a week later to get in position on time. The main issue of contention between the two powers is Japan's invasion of China. However, maybe he can accomplish something that Ambassador Kichisaburō Nomura cannot.

Benton Harbor, MI newspaper headlines, 5 November 1941,
On the front page of the News-Palladium of Benton Harbor, MI of 5 November 1941, the war takes second place to a local trial. Note that it already has news of Special Envoy Kurusu "Racing to U.S. Capital."
The Japanese prepare two proposals for the Americans, to be handed to the United States Secretay of State Cordell Hull as soon as possible in sequence. In Proposal A, Japan promises to withdraw from China and French Indochina (Vietnam), which is what the Americans want. However, this depends upon Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek signing a peace treaty that would permit the Imperial Japanese forces to remain in parts of China indefinitely. In addition, the Japanese would agree to free trade principles which are important to the Americans, and basically cast aside its obligations under the Tripartite Pact. The Japanese are willing to abandon China... sort of.

Devonport dockyards, 5 November 1941,
"View of Devonport Dockyard from HMS IMPREGNABLE." 5 November 1941 © IWM (A 6233).
Proposal B is intended as a last resort should the Americans reject Proposal A. It provides that Japan would immediately withdraw all troops from French Indochina and also negotiate a final peace treaty with China - as long as the United States did not interfere. Japan and the United States then together would acquire the Netherlands Indies (Indonesia) and the two nations thereafter would become trading partners and, presumably, allies.

Die Wehrmacht magazine, 5 November 1941,
"Die Wehrmacht," the official OKW publication, shows train cars full of Soviet POWs on the cover of its 5 November 1941 issue. As can be seen, the cars are open to the elements as winter sets in.
As Kurusu journeys to Washington, however, Japanese war preparations are to continue in secret. Today, Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Yamamoto distributes copies of Top-Secret Order No. 1 to all commanders of the Japanese Combined Fleet. This order that is drafted by both the Imperial Army and Navy sets forth the invasion plans that will cover the entire Pacific basin. It provides in part:
[A]nticipating that war with the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands will begin in the early part of December, for self-preservation and self-defense, the Empire has decided to complete the various preparations for war.
The order provides that the fleet is to get into attack positions. Submarines are to depart on 20 November and the Carrier Striking Force is to depart the next day for Hawaii.
USS Honolulu, 5 November 1941,
The U.S. Navy light cruiser USS Honolulu (CL-48) operating off Hawaii on 5 November 1941, with her aircraft recovery mat draped over her stern. The ship is painted in dark Measure 1 camouflage, but her boats are still in peacetime light grey (National Archives, Navy History and Heritage Command).
While the Japanese carry their preparations out with extreme secrecy, the Americans are much more closely attuned to Japanese intentions than the Japanese know. They have been reading Japanese diplomatic ciphers for months in the "Magic" program but have done little with the information so received. United States Secretary of State Hull knows that something important is in the offing due to Japanese instructions to Ambassador Nomura that a resolution must be reached by 25 November. Hull drops a few broad hints to allies, and Congress decides to stay in session indefinitely rather than take its customary holiday breaks. The Magic team in Hawaii, led by Joseph Rochefort, begins detecting changes in Japanese naval communications, though they are not certain what to make of it. Rochefort also notes the recall of Japanese merchant ships. Two Japanese marine staff officers also leave Pearl Harbor. Various Americans, such as Ambassador Joseph Grew in Tokyo, are getting uneasy as they notice things start to change, but little out of the ordinary is done to prepare for war.

Paul Lincke and his daughter Gina at his operetta "Mrs. Luna," 5 November 1941,
Operetta composer Paul Lincke with his daughter Gina Torsen, dressed as Mrs. Luna in his operetta "Frau Luna," as she gives him birthday wishes on 5 November 1941. Note the new Volkswagen behind the pair, which is a birthday gift that has been pulled on stage (Hoffmann, Federal Archive Fig. 183-B05557).

November 1941

November 1, 1941: Finns Attack Toward Murmansk Railway
November 2, 1941: Manstein Isolates Sevastopol
November 3, 1941: Japan Prepares to Attack
November 4, 1941: German Advances in the South
November 5, 1941: Last Peace Effort By Japan
November 6, 1941: Stalin Casts Blame in an Unexpected Direction
November 7, 1941: Stalin's Big Parade
November 8, 1941: Germans Take Tikhvin
November 9, 1941: Duisburg Convoy Destruction
November 10, 1941: Manstein Attacks Sevastopol
November 11, 1941: Finland's Double Game Erupts
November 12, 1941: T-34 Tanks Take Charge
November 13, 1941: German Orsha Conference
November 14, 1941: German Supply Network Breaking Down
November 15, 1941: Operation Typhoon Resumes
November 16, 1941: Manstein Captures Kerch
November 17, 1941: Finland Halts Operations
November 18, 1941: British Operation Crusader
November 19, 1941: Sydney vs. Kormoran Duel
November 20, 1941: The US Rejects Final Japanese Demand
November 21, 1941: Germans Take Rostov
November 22, 1941: Kleist in Trouble at Rostov
November 23, 1941: Germans Take Klin, Huge Battle in North Africa
November 24, 1941: Rommel Counterattacks
November 25, 1941: HMS Barham Sunk
November 26, 1941: Japanese Fleet Sails
November 27, 1941: British Relieve Tobruk
November 28, 1941: Rostov Evacuated, German Closest Approach to Moscow
November 29, 1941: Hitler Furious About Retreat
November 30, 1941: Japan Sets the Date for its Attack


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