File No. 793.94/588
The Secretary of State to Ambassador Morris
Washington , November 6, 1917, 5 p.m .
The Department is in receipt of information from the American Legation at Peking to the effect that the Japanese Minister there on November 4 (November 3, Washington time) handed to the Chinese Foreign Office a copy of the notes recently signed by me and Viscount Ishii.
The newspapers of the morning of the 6th also print an Associated Press story from Peking under date of November 5 stating that the Japanese Minister had informed the Chinese Foreign Office that the United States had recognized Japan’s special interests in China and that both Governments had reaffirmed the open door. In view of the fact that it was agreed between the Governments that the notes should not be made public in this country until the afternoon of the 6th and not in Japan until the morning of the 7th, this premature announcement of the contents of the notes has caused the Department much embarrassment and created a very bad impression because of the seeming violation of the understanding as to publication.
You are instructed to present these facts to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to request an investigation to determine the responsibility for the premature publicity given the notes in Peking which is so manifestly violative of the agreement of the two Governments. You may state that I am convinced that Viscount Motono must resent as I do this failure to preserve the confidential character of the notes until the time agreed upon between the two Governments for their publication.
Repeat above to Peking for its information, referring to Peking’s November 5, 12 noon, to the Department.