During March and April 1941, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Yosuke Matsuoka, conducted a tour, visiting Stalin and Ribbentrop. That was eight months before the attack on Pearl Harbour.
This trip has kept Britain and the United States in a state of great attention to the entry of Japan to war, given the Tripartite Pact.
During the visit, Churchill wrote a letter to Matsuoka, delivered through the Japanese Ambassador in England. Below is the transcript thereof:
I venture to suggest a few questions which it seems to me deserve the attention of the Imperial Japanese Government and people.
1. Will Germany, without the command of the sea or the command of the British daylight air, be able to invade and conquer Great Britain in the spring, summer, or autumn of 1941? Will Germany try to do so? Would it no be in the interests of Japan to wait until these questions have answered themselfs?
2. Will the Greman attach on British shipping be strong enough to prevent American aif from reaching British shores, with Great Britain and the United States transforming their whole industry to war purposes?
3. Did Japan's accession to the Triple Pact made it more likely or less likely that the United States would come into the present war?
4. If the United States entered the war at the side of Great Britain, and Japan ranged herself with the Axis Powers, would not the naval superiority of the two English-speaking nations enable them to dispose of the Axis Powers in Europe before turning their united strength upon Japan?
5. Is Italy a strength or a burden to Germany? is the Italian Fleet as good at sea as on paper? Is it good on paper as it used to be?
6. Will the British Air Force be stronger than the German Air Force before the end of 1941, and far stronger before the end of 1942?
7. Will the many countries which are being held down by the German Army and Gestapo learn to like the Germans more or will they like them less as the years pass by?
8. It is true that the production of steel in the United States during 1941 will be 75 million tons, and in Great Britain about 12 1/2, making a total of nearly 90 millions tons? If Germany should happen to be defeated, as she was the last time, would not the 7 million tons steel production of Japan be inadequate for a single-handed war?
From the answers to these questions may spring the avoidance by Japan of a serious catastrophe, and a marked improvement in the relations between Japan and the great sea-Powers of the West.
(Churchill, Winston. The grand alliance. 1950. Pages 167-168)
Churchill comment about his letter: "I was rather pleased with this when I wrote it, and I don't mind the look of it now".
Next post: Matsuoka answer.