7 October – On this day

The McCollum memo, also known as the Eight Action Memo was a memorandum, dated on this day in 1940 (more than a year before the Pearl Harbour attack), sent by Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum, in his capacity as director of the Office of Naval Intelligence’s Far East Asia section. It gained notoriety when an author suggested it was part of a conspiracy by the Roosevelt Administration to provoke war with Japan.

The memo outlined the general situation of several nations in World War II and recommended an eight-part course of action (see below) for the United States to take in regard to the Japanese Empire in the South Pacific.  But suggesting the United States should provoke Japan into committing an “overt act of war”, is taking a very specific interpretation of the memo. McCollum actually writes that Japan provoking a war with the US would make matters more straight forward but the eight points are focused on containment of Japan.

The McCollum memo contained an eight-part plan to counter rising Japanese power over East Asia:

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
B. Make an arrangement with the Netherlands for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire