Signals intelligence and related matters
Japanese intentions: special material
- Catalogue ref: FO 1093/315
- Date: 04/02/1941 - 13/03/1941
This file includes transcripts of conversations between Japanese Embassy officials and various callers discussing the possibility of war with Britain, as well as reports of intercepted telegrams. It contains a top copy of a minute from Churchill to Cadogan, dated 21 February 1941, asking for a digest of these conversations for him to send to President Roosevelt: 'Be careful in making the digest you do not lose the snappiness of the dialogues.' A long telegram to Halifax in Washington of 23 February 1941, indicated that based on the Japanese conversations the Foreign Office had thought there was imminent danger of an aggressive move by Japan, but that it had not yet materialised. Cadogan wrote that 'they (Japanese) are so indiscreet that at first we were inclined to think we were having our leg pulled' but that 'if you were to read them all, I think you will agree that such play-acting would be a masterpiece beyond the Japanese'. The transcripts themselves record Japanese officials expressing admiration for Churchill: 'We must admit that he is a very fine leader' and a 'far greater man than Hitler'. While another expresses the hope that he would die soon as without him, 'Britain would be like a ship without a rudder'.