Cabinet Room, White House, Washington, D.C - 17 August 1945
"Any further word from the Nips, Jimmy?" asked Harry Truman, meaning his old Senate colleague and mentor, James F. Byrnes, who was now his Secretary of State and not his Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal.
"Nothing definite. The only issue they've been raising is the status of the Mikado, so it looks like that's what's keeping them from facing reality," replied Byrnes.
"Didn't realize the Japs were such fans of Gilbert and Sullivan," quipped Fred Vinson, who was another old Senate colleague of Truman's and the Secretary of the Treasury.
Truman turned to face Secretary of War Henry Stimson, "So how soon can the Lord High Executioner wield his atomic blade again?" he asked, already knowing the answer, but not everyone here did.
"Not until October at the earliest, Mr. President," was the reply, which was a tad formal partly because of his manner, but also unlike Byrnes and Vinson, he was not an old colleague of Truman's. Between that and his declining health, Secretary Stimson did not expect to be remaining in his current post much longer. Indeed, he'd been hoping for a Japanese surrender so he could tender his resignation.
"Perhaps it would be worth assuaging their concerns," suggested Henry Wallace, the Secretary of Commerce and former Vice-President.
"Yeah, we can promise we won't hang Hirohito higher than Haman easily enough. Of course we could still shoot the bastard," said Attorney General Tom C. Clark.
"We've already indirectly assuaged them," commented Jimmy Byrnes. "We've told them that the matter of the governance of Japan after the occupation ends will be for the people of Japan to decide. I don't see what more we could equitably do."
"They're probably worried what the people would do," said Postmaster General Robert E. Hannegan. "Since they brought to Japan a whirlwind of defeat and destruction no divine wind will save them from, they ought to be worried."
"Then for now we'll just let them worry and go to the next item on our agenda this morning," said the President.