chapter  11
17 Pages

THE KONOE PERIOD, 1937-40

Konoe1s Cabinets were wartime Cabinets where diplomacy had to take second place to military considerations. This fact may be observed in the various bodies who took the key decisions. Konoe, trying to avoid formalized meetings of the Cabinet, progressively relied on an inner Cabinet, the so-called four or fiveminister conferences. The membership varied according to the topic but the war and navy ministers were always there. More often than not the foreign minister also attended so he had not by any means forfeited power. By 1941 it was the liaison conference which had become the principal decision-making body in foreign affairs, leaving the Cabinet to deal with domestic affairs. These were meetings of the inner Cabinet with members of the general staffs. From this body recommendations were passed to the imperial conference, where again military representatives had their say. (5)

More important perhaps than the agencies of consultation were the failures of consultation. The chiefs of staff had considerable independent power under the right of supreme command Ctosuiken) system. After 1937 this led to real anxiety when the failure of the military to co-operate placed the civilian government in an ambiguous position. This is well illustrated in the writings of Konoe himself where he describes the crisis of the American-Japanese negotiations of the summer of 1941 in these words:

While my government was negotiating with all its energy, the military were pursuing war preparations to meet the eventuality that negotiations might fail. It was impossible for us who knew nothing about these preparations to align our diplomacy with them. Washington got to know that our ships were being switched about and became very sceptical of our sincerity. C6I

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Later General Toj5 refused to disclose military plans to the civilian leaders. The result of this could only be for inconsistencies to develop between foreign policy and military foreign policy. Even the military holders of high office failed to get the forces to disclose vital information.