Mr. Takahira to Mr. Hay.
Washington, February 11, 1904.
Sir: Now that war has been declared between Japan and Russia, I am instructed to inform you that the question of China’s attitude [Page 419]consequent upon that unfortunate event has been one which has engaged the serious attention of the Japanese Government. While the struggle must have an interest for China at least equal to that of Japan, and while the Imperial Government are fully alive to the advantages of having at their disposal the great resources of China in men and materials, yet they can not ignore the probable consequences if China were to assume the attitude of a belligerent, as in their opinion such an attitude would throw her finances into still greater disorder and make it difficult if not impossible for her to meet her obligations. Moreover, it would have a disastrous effect upon her foreign trade, and, above all, it would cause a recurrence of the antiforeign feeling among her people, and the world might be compelled to witness events similar to those of 1900. Under these circumstances the Japanese Government have advised the Chinese Government, in case of war between Japan and Russia, to observe neutrality and to take all possible measures for the preservation of internal order and tranquillity.
I am therefore instructed to assure you that should China assume an attitude of neutrality the Japanese Government will respect such neutrality if it is respected by Russia.