File No. 861.00/3252
The Ambassador in Japan (Morris) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 20, 9.55 p.m.]
Your November 16, noon. The Minister of Foreign Affairs could not see me until this afternoon. I took up with him the points stated in your telegram and left with him a summary of them. He did not attempt to justify the action of the previous Ministry in sending additional troops to Manchuria and Siberia. He admitted that the total number sent was 72,400, of whom 44,700 were combatants and 27,000 were noncombatants. He stated that the total number had now been reduced to 58,600 who were protecting 3,400 miles of railway, which he thought was not an excessive guard.
Turning to the question of the railway, he repeated that he had instructed Ishii to submit to you the three alternative suggestions which I have already reported. He apparently conceded the difficulties incident to a diversion of the main line or of the control and confined himself to a discussion of the proposal that Stevens be named as chairman of an Allied advisory committee, which should cooperate with the present Russian management. When I questioned him as to practical details of this plan, he produced an elaborate diagram, and explained that he was unfamiliar with it, but would arrange to have the Japanese railway expert see me to-morrow morning. He concluded by reading me portions of Ishii’s report of his interview with you on the 16th, but did not appear in the least disturbed by your suggestion to Ishii that we might withdraw our troops and make public the reasons.
The entire discussion left on me the impression that the Cabinet and diplomatic council, which were in session yesterday, decided not to approve the plan of railway operations as submitted, but to make every effort to reach some compromise which would better preserve the special interest which Japan claims in Manchuria, and particularly in the Chinese Eastern Railway.
I do not favor a rigid adherence to the plan evolved at Vladivostok, but think that we should be prepared to examine carefully and with an open mind any counter proposal offered. I will report to-morrow on the details of the proposal emphasized by Uchida to-day. Should this prove impracticable may I again submit as a possible compromise the solution contained in my October 26, 3 p.m.?1[Page 437]
Replying to the questions in your November 16, noon:
- I do not think it would be advisable now to send any American troops along the railway as far as Omsk, but should cooperation with Japan become impossible then I would favor such a movement unless we withdraw entirely from Siberia.
- The withdrawal of our troops from Siberia with the withdrawal of Stevens and his corps from Manchuria would, I fear, be welcomed by the Japanese military authorities and interpreted as an abandonment of our efforts to assist in the reconstruction of Siberia. It would place our representatives who are giving social and economic aid in a most embarrassing position and would bitterly disappoint large numbers of Russian forces who in their helplessness are looking to us.
Stevens returned to Harbin yesterday. He has done all that can be done in presenting his views here and he feels that he should keep in closer touch with Horvat and other representative Russians. He also desires to confer with Emerson and his men who are increasingly restless under their forced inactivity and most anxious to return home. He fears that he will be unable to hold the corps together much longer if they continue unemployed.