File No. 861.00/2598½

The Japanese Ambassador (Ishii) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Lansing: I hasten to enclose to you the rough statement prepared in all haste. Excuse my bad English.

Yours sincerely,

K. Ishii

Statement of the Japanese Ambassador

The enemy forces in front of the Czecho-Slovak troops in the Maritime Provinces which were hitherto estimated to be from 10,000 to 12,000 are reported to have obtained a reinforcement of 3,000 strong and are now pressing the Czecho-Slovaks to the south. A part of the British and French detachments have first been sent out to their aid. The Japanese contingent which landed at Vladivostok on the 13th instant has also dispatched a detachment in view of the increasing urgent situation. The combined forces of all the Allied contingents in and near Vladivostok amount at present to only 14,000 and it will require more than two months to attain the strength of about 25,000 as originally figured out by the American Government. The consequence is that it would prove extremely difficult for this present feeble force of the Allies to deal the confronting enemy a complete blow before the winter sets in and that the important object of relieving in time the Czecho-Slovak army in Siberia would end in failure.

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At the military conference recently held at Vladivostok of the inter-Allied representative officers it was unanimously concluded that the only way to meet the situation would be to have the new reinforcement promptly sent from Japan, the American representatives taking the initiative in proposing to report to the respective governments about the situation presented and the conclusion reached.

In the meantime General Dietrichs commanding the Czecho-Slovak forces has repeatedly appealed to the Japanese General Staff with the same object. The Imperial Government have given their most earnest consideration to the imminent situation thus created. In view of the fact that the Allied powers have sent their troops to Siberia with their declared object of rescuing the Czechoslovaks, the Imperial Government came to the conclusion that it would be an irreparable loss of the Allies’ prestige if they should now hesitate to send further reinforcements absolutely necessary to the execution of their object. The Imperial Government have, therefore, the intention of sending anew about 10,000 troops to the Maritime Provinces.

The enemy prisoners under the leadership of Lieutenant General Taube (?) and with their principal force at Chita are exerting themselves in conjunction with the Bolsheviki to prevent the Czecho-Slovaks in their westward advance. The enemy forces distributed between Manchouli and Lake Baikal are reported to be not less than 30,000. The 6,000 or 7,000 Czecho-Slovaks now concentrating in the neighborhood of Harbin would find it next to impossible to force their way through the outnumbering enemy to the Baikal and deliver their brothers. If they cannot reach the Baikal before the winter sets in, their brothers beyond the lake would be placed in a most perilous situation. Any military action will become extremely difficult in the Za-Baikal region in about a month hence.

In order to enable the Czecho-Slovaks to join hands with their brothers in western Siberia, it becomes absolutely necessary that a force of sufficient strength should at once be dispatched to assist the Czecho-Slovaks in their westward movement so that they will at least occupy Chita, the enemy headquarters, before the approaching winter and disperse the enemy forces in the Za-Baikal region. In view of these considerations, the Imperial Government intend to send another detachment (probably one division) to this region.

It is a matter of mutual satisfaction that the friendly attitude of Japan and her allies has been generally recognized by the Russians in Siberia and that the dispatch of the Allied troops has been welcomed by them so far as can be judged by the reports at hand. It is the belief of the Japanese Government that the intended reinforcements in the Maritime Provinces and the dispatch of troops to the Za-Baikal region may not give rise to any unfavorable development on the part of the local inhabitants. The Japanese Government feel confident that the American Government will entertain the same view with them in the light of the recent situation in Siberia.

  1. Note of the Secretary of State in the margin of MS.: “The Japanese Ambassador read this to me this morning and asked me to treat it as having been read the 23d. He had delayed by reason of doubtful passages. Aug. 27, 1918. R[obert] L[ansing].”