File No. 861.00/2358½

The Acting Secretary of State to the President

My Dear Mr. President: The Japanese Ambassador came in this afternoon and gave me orally the answer of the Japanese Government to the proposals in regard to sending troops to Vladivostok. He said that his Government for political reasons could not bind itself to limit the force to 7,000 as it would be said by the people of Japan, and particularly the opposition, that the limitation was being imposed because of lack of confidence in Japan and its motives. He said of course his Government knew the limitation was not suggested for any such reason, but the political situation in Japan was such that the acceptance of this limitation would be used against the Government, and therefore, much to their regret, they could not accept it.

He assured me it was not his Government’s intention to send a large number of troops, but he said that the Japanese Government was convinced that the forces proposed would be too small adequately to protect the rear of the Czecho-Slovaks. He said he had learned from his military attaché that his Government would send a division which, on a peace footing, would be about 12,000 men, with the understanding that the number of troops that they would send would depend on the amount of resistance that they met from the Bolsheviks, Austrian, and German prisoners.

I tried to argue with him as to limiting the number to 7,000 but without success. He reiterated that there was no misunderstanding on the part of the Government of our motives in making the limitation, but they were afraid of public opinion.

He read me a copy of the declaration which they proposed to make, stating that his Government felt that separate declarations would be better than a joint declaration. I enclose a copy of the declaration.1 [Page 302] I told the Ambassador that I would communicate with you and he would hear from me very shortly.

I suppose the number of troops they intend to send now is not as important as their reserving the right to send more later. He said at the end of the interview that when we were in agreement we could then arrange with the Entente Governments for their participation.

Yours faithfully,

Frank L. Polk
  1. Identical with the copy handed to the Acting Secretary, Aug. 2, as published in Japan on that date (post, p. 324), excepting the first two sentences of the second paragraph, which read as follows:

    The Japanese Government, being anxious to fall in with the desires of the American Government and also to act in harmony with the Allies and having regard at the same time to the special position of Japan, have decided to proceed at once to dispatch suitable forces for the proposed mission. A certain number of these troops will be sent forthwith to Vladivostok arid, if called for by the further exigencies of the situation, another detachment will eventually be ordered to operate and to maintain order along the Siberian Railway.