Japan sought mediation with Pope before Pearl Harbor

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Japan sought mediation with Pope before Pearl Harbor

During World War II, a Japanese foreign minister met Pope Pius XII and his secretary of state to seek mediation in a desperate bid to avoid war with the United States, eight months before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Vatican documents show.

Yosuke Matsuoka wanted the Holy See to speak to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to try to prevent a war of mutual destruction, according to a summary by the cardinal s office of a meeting on April 2, 1941, between the two.

According to the documents, Matsuoka, who served as Japan's top diplomat between 1940 and 1941 and was indicted as a war criminal after World War II, said that the U.S. leader would be able to bring peace to the Far East by mediating on Japan's behalf with Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek.

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