Saburō Kurusu (来栖 三郎 Kurusu Saburō?, 6 March 1886 - 7 April 1954) was a Japanese career diplomat. As Imperial Japan's ambassador to Germany from 1939 to November 1941, he signed the Tripartite Pact along with the foreign ministers of Nazi Germany and FascistItaly on 27 September 1940 to create the Axis.
Kurusu is probably best remembered now as an envoy who tried to negotiate peace and understanding with the United States while Japan was secretly preparing the attack on Pearl Harbor. He met several times with Secretary of State Cordell Hull in November 1941, conveying Japan's demand that the U.S. end support for China and resume trade relations that had been frozen in 1939. Hull responded with PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt's demand that Japan evacuate China and break ties with the Axis. The Japanese government found these demands unacceptable, and informed Kurusu to sever relations with the U.S. Kurusu delivered this message just as the attack on Pearl Harbor began.
Kurusu was interned until mid-1942, when he was exchanged for U.S. ambassador Joseph Grew. He was never suspected of any war crimes. He became a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo after World War II. For the remainder of his life, Kurusu insisted he had no idea that the attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent while he was negotiating with Hull.
Saburō Kurusu was Japanese Foreign Minister in 1941. In November 1941 he traveled to the United States and personally met with PresidentJoe Steele, demanding that the U.S. to unfreeze Japanese assets in the U.S. and for the U.S. to start selling Japan raw materials. Steele wanted Japanese forces to evacuate from China in exchange. Kurusu refused, affirming Japan's right to an overseas empire.
The Steele administration incorrectly assumed that Japan was far too dependent on American resources to be a viable threat. Moreover, Kurusu's demands were met with racist contempt by Steele and his aides. Vince Scriabin, for example, was particularly dismissive of Kurusus' belief that he was as "good as a white man," and that once the Japanese government realized just how dire their situation was without U.S. scrap, Kurusu would be a far more humble man in future negotiations.
On December 7, 1941, however, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, quickly disproving Steele's racist assumptions.