Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact


SDHF Newsletter No.275 Book Review Between Incomtency and Culpability

Between Incompetence and Culpability: Assessing the Diplomacy of Japan’s Foreign Ministry from Pearl Harbor to Potsdam.
By Seishiro Sugihara
University Press of America, 1997
Reviewed by Tadashi Hama

April 21, 2020

This book was first published in the Japanese language and later translated into English, Chinese and Korean. The English edition was published by University Press of America in 1997.
It is actually a rare case for a Japanese language book to be translated into three languages. The book is also unique in that it revealed, for the first time ever to the Japanese people, that before the war, Japan decrypted US diplomatic cables. The Americans heard about this through a leak from Tomihiko Ushiba, Prime Minister Fumimoro Konoe’s personal secretary. Rather than change its codes, the US quietly feed Japan disinformation, with the goal of misleading the Japanese leadership.
In spite of its uniqueness and deep delving into Japanese foreign policy from the start of the war against the US and thereafter, his book was not included as reference material for the special Internet exhibit, “Diplomatic Negotiation between Japan and the United States,” organized by the National Archives of Japan. Professor Sugihara protested by writing letters to the National Archives. The exchange between Prof. Sugihara and the National Archives has been previously noted in SDHF Newsletter Numbers 262, 267 and 272.
Professor Sugihara’s research reveals serious problems within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how it conducts foreign policy. It appears that the National Archives excluded Professor Sugihara’s findings in order to protect the Foreign Ministry. This bias and obvious partisanship needs to be corrected.


MOTEKI Hiromichi, Acting Chairman
for KASE Hideaki, Chairman
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact