(PEARL HARBOR and WAR in SOUTHEAST ASIA – continued)
In Washington, the War Department (later to be called the Defense Department) was working everyday and into the night concerning itself with military readiness. In October 1940 its War Plans Division had recommended withdrawal of all U.S. forces in the Pacific east of the 180-degree meridian (halfway between Wake and Midway Islands.
In January, Peru's minister to Japan had heard something about Japan planning to attack Pearl Harbor, and he told an American embassy official. On January 27, the U.S. embassy in Japan telegrammed this information to the U.S. State Department. Secretary of State Cordell Hull passed the message on to Army intelligence and the Office of Naval Intelligence, and, on February 1, naval intelligence contacted the commander of the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. Naval Intelligence advised Kimmel that it "placed no credence" in the rumors that Japan was planning to attack Pearl Harbor and that "no move against Pearl Harbor appears imminent or planned for in the foreseeable future." [note]
In March a new Consul General from Japan arrived in Hawaii, and with him was Takeo Yoshikawa, a trained spy. Yoshikawa joined an untrained agent, Kohichi Seki, a treasurer at Japan's consulate in Hawaii, who had been gathering information about the movements of American ships. Meanwhile the House Committee on Un-American activities had been investigating spy activities among the Japanese in the United States. It was concerned with Japanese on the west coast who were loyal to Japan. Japanese-American fishermen on the west coast were under intense scrutiny, although fishermen were seeing little more than could be seen by anyone on board the large ships from Japan that regularly anchored on the Pacific coast. The chairman of the committee Martin Dies was getting much publicity, and he announced that the time had come "for a showdown of Japanese spy activities in this country." [note]
The view of U.S. military intelligence, and of Admiral Kimmel, was that the major threat to the fleet at Pearl Harbor was from local saboteurs – not from a military force from Japan. Hawaii had a good number of people of Japanese decent, and their loyalty was questioned – although no cases of espionage by Japanese-Americans had been uncovered.
U.S. strategists were concerned with the limited supplies and manpower available to defeat enemy forces, and on June 2, Roosevelt's Joint Army-Navy Board decided that in the event of hostilities between the United States and the axis powers – Germany, Italy and Japan – Germany and Italy would be defeated first, while war against Japan would be defensive. U.S. strategists believed that the Japanese were not likely to attack the Philippines because of the strength of U.S. forces. They believed, as did Douglas MacArthur, that the Americans and Filipinos could more than adequately defend themselves against the Japanese. MacArthur told an American reporter, John Hersey, that the Americans, British and Dutch could handle the Japanese with half the forces they had in the Pacific, that if the Japanese went to war against them "the Japanese navy would be either destroyed or bottled up tight." [note]
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