File No. 861.77/548

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Morris)


Referring to your November 12, 4 p.m.,1 and previous telegrams regarding Siberian situation, also Department’s September 24, [Page 434] 8 p.m.,1 explaining this Government’s whole purpose in regard to railways, please take up frankly with the Japanese Government the following points:

The United States has viewed with surprise the presence of the very large number of Japanese troops now in north Manchuria and eastern Siberia. Reliable information shows the number of these troops to be so great as to constitute a definite departure from the express understanding for cooperation between Japan and the United States and quite unwarranted by any military necessity.
This Government believes that any undertaking in regard to the Siberian situation must be based on a spirit of frank and open cooperation. It is convinced that any monopoly of control such as that now exercised by Japan in north Manchuria and in the eastern part of the Trans-Baikal will arouse suspicion and prove open to the charges of exploitation. Such monopoly is certainly opposed not only to the purpose of this Government to assist Russia but also to its views regarding China.
In suggesting that Mr. Stevens assume charge of railway operations, as representing Russia and not the United States or any interest of the United States, this Government had the express intention not to modify atiy previously existing rights of Russia or China. The memorandum of agreement, approved by all the Allied representatives at Vladivostok and by Russian authorities, expressly provides for supervision by international or Russian control and not by any one power. In other words, every measure advocated by this Government has had the purpose of avoiding a monopoly of control creating conditions such as would arouse alarm or suspicion. Moreover, in the opinion of this Government, the question of railway operation is a practical one which the welfare of the Russian people requires should be met by practical measures. Such practical measures of assistance had already been undertaken by the United States, acting in behalf of Russia, in 1917 when Mr. Stevens was requested by the Russian railway administration to secure the assistance of the Russian Railway Service Corps. Furthermore this Government is convinced that a divided control of the operation of the Siberian railway system is foredoomed to failure.
The Government of the United States believes that fundamentally the Government of Japan shares its views and that the United States and Japan have a common purpose in the part each has played in the present war, in full accord with the Governments associated against the military autocracies of the Central powers. Each is mutually concerned that the peoples with whom it comes in contact shall be safeguarded from aggression. It was in this spirit of confidence that the Government of the United States approached the Japanese Government in regard to joint action of assistance in Siberia. This Government therefore deems it only the part of frankness and friendly counsel to point out how far in practice the military undertakings of Japan appear now to have diverged from the previously declared purpose of the two Governments.

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I am presenting these same points to the Japanese Ambassador here to-day. Please let me know at the earliest opportunity the result of such action as you may be able to take at Tokyo. At the same time, let me have your views (1) as to the advisability of sending along the railway as far as Omsk such American troops as may now be available; (2) in the event Japan declines to alter its present policy, what would be the effect of withdrawing from Siberia all American forces, including Stevens and the Russian Railway Service Corps, as evidence of our unwillingness to be associated with a policy so contrary to our declared purpose regarding Russia. The possibility of such action was expressly declared in the aide-mémoire handed to the Japanese Ambassador at Washington under date of July 17.

Repeat to Peking for its information.