The Failure of the Operation and the Showa Emperor
From this point on, until their return to the US at the end of December, Walsh and Draut were based at the Imperial Hotel, where they made vigorous contact with Archbishop Tatsuo Doi, Yamamoto and other Catholics, Setsuzo Sawada, who had just returned from serving as Ambassador to Brazil, Taro Terasaki, Director General of the US Bureau of Foreign Affairs, and other foreign ministers.
Terasaki was a Catholic. Sawada was also a Quaker, but his children had all been baptized as Catholics. It is fair to say that Walsh and his colleagues were supported by a network of Catholics in Japan, including Yamamoto.
Walsh and his colleagues also met with Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka and the secretary to Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe. The aim was to find a way to restore US-Japan relations, particularly in the private sector.
Relations between Japan and the United States were deteriorating as a result of the Japan-Sino War, the increasing support of the United States for China, the breaking of the Japan-US Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, and the signing of German-Japanese and Italian Tripartite Pact.
In Japan, with the advance of Nazi Germany, the idea of starting a war was gaining strength. In the United States, too, there was a desire to force Japan to strike the "first blow" in order to convince its people that war was inevitable.
But the desire to avoid war was still strong on both sides.
Walsh and his colleagues chose Tadao Ikawa, a former finance bureaucrat with extensive knowledge of US politics, and Hideo Iwakuro, a colonel in the military section who was regarded as a conspirator within the army, as their counter-partners on the Japanese side, and called for negotiations to proceed in the US.
Ikawa and Iwakuro travelled to the United States by April 1941, and together with Draut they began negotiations. Basically, this was "private diplomacy" without the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the State Department, and the idea was to find a way to make peace between Japan and the United States, which had become difficult because of the previous history between the governments.
Nevertheless, Walsh, Draut and others were not mere "religious figures", but had extensive contacts with Secretary of State Cordell Hull and other key government officials, and the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Kichisaburo Nomura, actively supported them.
As a result, the "negotiations" proceeded more smoothly than expected, and by April 16 a "Japan-US Draft Agreement" was already in place.
The most important issue for both sides was the Japan-Sino problem, which they argued could be settled between Japan and the United States so as to avoid a confrontation.
(1) The withdrawal of Japanese troops from Chinese territory in accordance with the agreement to be concluded between Japan and China.
(2) Non-annexation of the territory of China
(3) Recognition of Manchukuo.
Agreed on eight items, with three main points - "If the Japanese Government assures this, the President of the United States will, on this basis, recommend peace to the President Chiang Kai-shek's administration."
According to Satoshi Hashimoto’s "The Plot: How the United States and Japan Entered the War", Hull was eager to "begin negotiations between the two countries on the basis of this proposal" and pressed the Japanese government for its views.
It was not unacceptable to the Japanese, who wanted to hasten the conclusion of the Japan-Sino War, and the Foreign Ministry, Army and Navy were in agreement.
However, the Prime Minister, Fumimaro Konoe who was on a trip abroad, left the final decision to Yosuke Matsuoka. Preoccupied with the illusion of a Tripartite Pact, Matsuoka rejected the idea, which hardened American attitudes, and the "priestly maneuver" came to nothing.
During this time Yamamoto, despite his illness, met frequently with the two priests during their stay in Japan, introducing them to key Japanese figures and holding "strategy meetings" with them.
In this way, it would not be wrong to say that this "priestly maneuver" had begun two years earlier, when Yamamoto visited the Merinole Society in Seattle.
Post-war research has shown that this " maneuvering" took place.
The fact that President Roosevelt had not changed his pro-China stance, and that at the time he seemed determined to start a war with Japan, means that even if the Japanese had accepted the treaty, there is a strong negative view that it would have been a mirage.
Nevertheless, after the war, the Showa Emperor expressed his regret that the peace process had not been completed in "The Showa Emperor's Monologues", edited by Hidenari Terasaki Imperial Household Ministry official, the younger brother of Taro Terasaki a former Foreign Ministry official.
From March to April 1946, five aides, including Hidenari Terasaki, Yoshitami Matsudaira, Minister of the Imperial Household, and Michio Kinoshita, Deputy Chief of the Imperial Household Staff, interviewed the emperor himself five times about important matters ranging from the Huanggutun incident to the end of the war.
Terasaki compiled this report, which was published in full in the December 1990 issue of Bungeishunju, and the following year it was published in book form, together with Terasaki's diary. In the booklet, he describes the negotiations between Japan and the United States from 1940, the so-called "priestly maneuver".
”The negotiations between Japan and the U.S. began unofficially around the time the Tripartite Pact was formed, and I have heard of Catholic priests and men such as Colonel Iwakuro, but know nothing more about them. At first it went very well, but at a critical moment it was ruined because Matsuoka opposed it."
The mention of the personal name of Yosuke Matsuoka shows the disappointment of the Emperor, who had hoped for a "priestly maneuver".