File No. 793.94/570

The Secretary of State to Minister Reinsch 61

No. 663

Sir: The Department sends herewith for your strictly confidential information, copy of a signed memorandum dated July 6, 1917, to the Japanese Ambassador in this capital, relative to Japan’s claim to a preferential position in China.

The above memorandum was in reply to oral representations made to the Department on June 15, 1917, by the Japanese Ambassador, the substance of which was that Japan has special and close relations, political as well as economic, with China and that the American Government has long and well understood that these close relations existed; that in a note dated March 13, 1915,62 addressed to Viscount Chinda by Mr. Bryan, the then Secretary of State, recognized this state of affairs and declared that the activity of Americans in China had never been political. Reposing confidence in this statement the Japanese Government attached no importance to the recent rumor repeatedly finding its way to the press despatches from China to the effect that the American Minister at Peking was more or less involved in political affairs in the political crisis in China.

Adverting to the note of the American Government to the Chinese Government relative to the political situation in China,63 which note was sent without previously consulting Japan, the Japanese Ambassador stated that his Government did not entertain the slightest doubt as to the fair and unselfish motives of the United States Government. However, it was constrained, much to its regret, to recognize as a fact that, inasmuch as the Japanese public is specially sensitive toward Chinese problems, the action of the American Government in sending the note in conjunction with the rumor hereinbefore mentioned, has caused in the minds of a certain part of the people a feeling of uneasiness. Under the circumstances, therefore, the Japanese Government expressed the hope that if the United States Government could see its way clear by some appropriate means to confirm the statement made by Mr. Bryan and to clearly reassert its friendly attitude toward Japan in respect to Chinese problems, a good impression would be left on the minds of the Japanese public and would contribute in no small measure to the friendly relations existing between the two nations. The Ambassador asked to be informed regarding the attitude of the American Government on this subject.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. The same to the American Charge d’Affaires at Tokyo. (No. 469.)
  2. For. Rel. 1915, p. 105.
  3. See Department’s telegram of June 4, 1917, to the American Minister at Peking, under Political Affairs, p.49.