File No. 893.00/2664
The Japanese Ambassador to the Secretary of State
Washington [handed to the Secretary of State June 15, 1917].
The Japanese Government have submitted to their careful consideration the note of the American Chargé d’Affaires dated the 6th instant in which he conveys the proposals of his Government for an [Page 72] identical representation by the Governments of Japan, the United States, Great Britain, and France to the Chinese Government urging upon them the importance of maintaining one central united and responsible government in China. The Japanese Government fully appreciate the singleness of purpose which has animated such proposals and they desire to assure the American Government that no country is more keenly interested than Japan in the preservation of unity and peace in China. They regret, however, to be unable to bring themselves to the conviction that the moment is opportune for making a representation to the Chinese Government in the sense proposed. It seems to them that both the contending factions in China are equally anxious to set at rest the present difficulties without recourse to arms and that the situation is not quite as hopeless as all the alarming reports might lead one to believe. In any case the efforts now being actively made by the Chinese themselves to compose the differences at issue have not yet proved a failure while the lives and property of foreigners in the troubled country remain essentially unmolested.
At this stage of the internal strife in China, it is seriously apprehended that any foreign influence brought to bear upon her is liable to create misgiving in the sensitive minds of one or the other of the opposing parties and to do more harm than good.
Japan possesses paramount interests both political and economic in China and she would no doubt suffer more than any other country should the turn of events there present a grave aspect, but the Japanese Government holding to their avowed policy of non-interference in the essentially domestic affairs of China have scrupulously refrained from making any representation to the Chinese Government touching the present crisis. They believe that in the absence of untoward development of the situation, this course would serve the best interests in China as well as of all the other Powers and they feel it due to frankness to confess that they do not find themselves justified in joining in the proposed representation to the Chinese Government.