Dec. 6, 1941 – The day before the day “which will live in infamy”


Many highlights stand out and many dates are remembered for their significance as to world events.  Of course, we here in The United States of America tend to remember more the dates of events that have been crucial and important to our young country.  

We all know that on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, HI, which caused the USA to stand up and be counted beyond just monitary assistance to other countries in WWII.  We also know the highlights of what came after, up until the end of WWII.  Yet, not many know how hard our President Roosevelt had tried to work with Japan, especially, in order to keep the entire world from breaking out into war.

Yes. President Roosevelt knew that war was coming and he was seeing to it that the USA was getting ready behind the scenes for what he considered to be our inevitable entry into the fray.  We can see how, just one day prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor exactly how well he understood this from the telegram he sent below.

On December 6, 1941, at 9:00 PM, President Roosevelt sent out this telegram to the Ambassador in Japan, under instructions to communicate the President’s message to the Japanese Emperor in such manner as deemed most appropriate by the Ambassador and at the earliest possible moment, addressed to “His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Japan”. The telegram added that the press was being informed that the President was dispatching a message to the Emperor.

The message President Roosevelt had for the Emperor of Japan was this:

President Roosevelt to Emperor Hirohito of Japan [94], 6 December 1941


[WASHINGTON,] December 6, 1941

Almost a century ago the President of the United States addressed to the Emperor of Japan a message extending an offer of friendship of the people of the United States to the people of Japan. That offer was accepted, and in the long period of unbroken peace and friendship which has followed, our respective nations, through the virtues of their peoples and the wisdom of their rulers have prospered and have substantially helped humanity.

Only in situations of extraordinary importance to our two countries need I address to Your Majesty messages on matters of state. I feel I should now so address you because of the deep and far-reaching emergency which appears to be in formation.

Developments are occurring in the Pacific area which threaten to deprive each of our nations and all humanity of the beneficial influence of the long peace between our two countries. These developments contain tragic possibilities.

The people of the United States, believing in peace and in the right of nations to live and let lives have eagerly watched the conversations between our two Governments during these past months. We have hoped for a termination of the present conflict between Japan and China. We have hoped that a peace of the Pacific could be consummated in such a way that nationalities of many diverse peoples could exist side by side without fear of invasion; that unbearable burdens of armaments could be lifted for them all; and that all peoples would resume commerce without discrimination against or in favor of any nation.

I am certain that it will be clear to Your Majesty, as it is to me, that in seeking these great objectives both Japan and the United States should agree to eliminate any form of military threat. This seemed essential to the attainment of the high objectives.

More than a year ago Your Majesty’s Government concluded an agreement with the Vichy Government by which five or six thousand Japanese troops were permitted to enter into Northern French Indochina for the protection of Japanese troops which were operating against China further north. And this Spring and Summer the Vichy Government permitted further Japanese military forces to enter into Southern French Indochina for the common defense of French Indochina. I think I am correct in saying that no attack has been made upon Indochina, nor that any has been contemplated.

During the past few weeks it has become clear to the world that Japanese military, naval and air forces have been sent to Southern Indo-China in such large numbers as to create a reasonable doubt on the part of other nations that this continuing concentration in Indochina is not defensive in its character.

Because these continuing concentrations in Indo-China have reached such large proportions and because they extend now to the southeast and the southwest corners of that Peninsula, it is only reasonable that the people of the Philippines, of the hundreds of Islands of the East Indies, of Malaya and of Thailand itself are asking themselves whether these forces of Japan are preparing or intending to make attack in one or more of these many directions.

I am sure that Your Majesty will understand that the fear of all these peoples is a legitimate fear in as much as it involves their peace and their national existence. I am sure that Your Majesty will understand why the people of the United States in such large numbers look askance at the establishment of military, naval and air bases manned and equipped so greatly as to constitute armed forces capable of measures of offense.

It is clear that a continuance of such a situation is unthinkable. None of the peoples whom have spoken of above can sit either indefinitely or permanently on a keg of dynamite.

There is absolutely no thought on the part of the United States of invading Indo-China if every Japanese soldier or sailor were to be withdrawn therefrom.

I think that we can obtain the same assurance from the Governments of the East Indies, the Governments of Malaya and. the Government of Thailand. I would even undertake to ask for the same assurance on the part of the Government of China. Thus a withdrawal of the Japanese forces from Indo-China would result in the assurance of peace throughout the whole of the South Pacific area.

I address myself to Your Majesty at this moment in the fervent hope that Your Majesty may, as I am doing, give thought in this definite emergency to ways of dispelling the dark clouds. I am confident that both of us, for the sake of the peoples not only of our own great countries but for the sake of humanity in neighboring territories, have a sacred duty to restore traditional amity and prevent further death and destruction in the world.


There, in the words of the President himself you can see that he truly understood that the United States of America would be sending the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines of the USA to do battle in WWII very soon.  

He was proved correct the following day when the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor.

If you take the time to review the communications between President Roosevelt and the Emperor of Japan prior to this, you will see how much Mr. Roosevelt had tried to cajole the Japanese into not going forward with their empire building at the cost of this war.  Kudos, Mr. Roosevelt!

Unfortunately, some people just like to build empires and profit on that empire building more than they care about lives lost and worlds shattered.

We’ve been there and done that.  Just recently.


Skip to comment form

    • brobin on December 7, 2008 at 19:47

    America would most all be in agreement regarding the following.  No more nation / empire building!

    The only building we desparately need right now is any building that goes on here within the borders of the USA on our infrastructure and our health care and education systems.  Well, thats a good start anyway.

    • RiaD on December 7, 2008 at 19:55

    thank you~

  1. LINK

    The Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge debate is a dispute over what, if any, advance knowledge American officials had of Japan’s December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Ever since the Japanese attack there has been debate as to how and why the United States had been caught off guard, and how much and when American officials knew of Japanese plans for an attack.

    Several writers, including journalist Robert Stinnett and former United States Navy Rear Admiral Robert A. Theobald, have argued that various parties high in the U.S. and British governments knew of the attack in advance and may even have let it happen or encouraged it in order to force America into war via the “back door.” Evidence supporting this view is taken from quotations and source documents from the time and the release of newer materials.

    Examination of information released since the War has revealed there was considerable intelligence information available to US and other nations’ officials. Rather than attribute the lack of preparedness at the base to failure to process, it has been argued that the U.S. must have had some degree of advanced knowledge of the attack.

    Go to the LINK, and read some. It’s fascinating.

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