December 1, 1941: Washington to Tokyo:

Indications are that the United States desires to continue the negotiations even if it is necessary to go beyond their stands on the so-called basic principles. However, if we keep quibbling on the critical points and continue to get stuck in the middle as we have in the past, it is impossible to expect any further developments. If it is impossible from the broad political viewpoint, to conduct a leaders’ meeting at this time, would it not be possible to arrange a conference between persons in whom the leaders have complete confidence, (for example, Vice President Wallace or Hopkins from the United States and the former Premier Konoye, who is on friendly terms with the President, or Advisor to the Imperial Privy Council Ishii). The meeting could be arranged for some midway point, such as Honolulu. High army and navy officers should accompany these representatives. Have them make one final effort to reach some agreement, using as the basis of their discussions the latest proposals submitted by each. We feel that this last effort may facilitate the final decision as to war or peace.

We realize of course that an attempt to have President Roosevelt and former Premier Konoye meet (could) fail. Bearing in mind the reaction to that in our nation, it may be to our interest to first ascertain the US attitude regarding the possibility. Moreover, since we have no guarantee either of success or failure of our objectives even if the meeting is held, careful consideration should first be given this matter. We feel, however, that to surmount the crisis with which we are face to face, it is not wasting our efforts to pursue every path open to us. It is our opinion that it would be most effective to feel out and ascertain the US attitude regarding this matter, in the name of the Japanese Government. However, if this procedure does not seem practical to you in view of some internal conditions, then how would it be if I were to bring up the subject as purely of my own origin and in that manner feel out their attitude. Then, if they seem receptive to it the government could make the official proposal. Please advise me of your opinions on this matter. (Costello II)

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