Transcripts of White House Office Conversations, 08/22/1940 - 10/10/1940

7. President Roosevelt Talks About Japanese Demands side 2, 1640-1844.

scene: oval office (feeling of levity and informality)

enter: unidentified visitor.

Visitor: Ah, I told, uh ( FDR: Wally) I told Wally if you have a couple of minutes.

FDR: How've you been? Sit down, sit down.

Visitor: Do you have Mike on your mind?

Aides, FDR, in chorus: No, no, no.

Visitor: What would the government do without (laughing)? Let's ask newspapers the thing about the FBI, reported, did you read that?

Wally: Oh, yeah, of course I've seen it.

FDR: There's a government scuffle, I knew it, I knew the facts, and it's never occurred to me, I never thought it.

Visitor: And I'm on it, checking every crumb, believe me.

FDR: Well.

Aide: You gave this way to put it in your powers.

Various: ...I don't care...

...I can't really say I'm certain...

...FBI... (when FDR interupts and puts the conversation on a more serious level).

FDR: Look, well here's one thing I wanted to ask ah our friend, the Scripps-Howard papers about. (laughs) Now look, before you read that, I want to ask you this. Ah, Roy the other day, received a telegram, apparently, which he published, I think, I think U.P. carried, all U.P. did, a telegram as I remember it, from the chief of the Japanese press association ( Visitor: Micanaba) What? Is he ( Visitor: Micanaba) uh huh, right, he's an old friend of au Roy's. In which, now, who, whatever his name was, said the damndest thing that ever happened, it may stir up bad feelings in this country and this country, is ah ready to pull the trigger if the Japs do anything. I mean, we won't stand their nonsense, public opinion won't, in this country, from the Japs if they do some fool thing. Now, this Micanaba fella wires to Roy and said, "There will be no war with the United States," I'm quoting from memory, "on one condition, and one condition only. And that is that the United States will recognize the new era in," not the Far East, but "the East," meaning the whole East. "Furthermore, that this recognition, there must be evidence of it, and the only evidence of this recognition that the United States can give is to demilitarize all of its naval and air and army bases in Wake, Midway and Pearl Harbor!" God, that's the first time that any damn Jap told us to get out of Hawaii! And that has me more worried than any other thing in the world than...(interuption), a responsible (interuption). What?

Aide 1: the question is, how responsible is this Mogadeer? (sic)

Visitor: ...head of the Press Association, an old timer, right?...

Aide 2: They say he was involved in a corrupt way...

FDR: I see.

Aide: And ah, I think he has no responsibility to the ----- of any kind.

Aide 2: When they a... a mockingbird, the government, a mockingbird, a total mockingbird, all the press association, so is his outfit. ( FDR: I see.) (chatter)

Visitor: That's something else.

FDR: They with the opening of the Burma Road on the 17th, that's a pretty definite challenge on the part of the British. And the only thing that worries me is that the Germans and the Japs have gone along, and the Italians, for, au five, six years, without their foot slipping, without their misjudging, foreign opinion. They played a very smart game and there are only a few chances they could get from doing that all the time, and they could do something foolish...And the time may be coming when the Germans and the Japs will do some fool thing. That would put us in, that's the only real danger of our getting in, is that their foot will slip.