File No. 861.00/1066

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Page)1


6561. American Ambassador at Tokyo has cabled that his French colleague has received instructions from his Government to join his British colleague in acceding to the request of the Japanese Government that the latter be allowed free hand in the event of intervention in Siberia. He also states his British colleague has as yet received no reply from his Government.

The British Embassy here has presented confidential memoranda suggesting: (1) that Japan, acting as the mandatory of the Allies, be asked to occupy the Chinese Eastern and Amur Railways; and (2) that the Government of the United States consider the practicability of having Japan occupy the whole Trans-Siberian Railroad.

The Government of the United States would be very glad to coincide with the position which may be taken by the Government of Great Britain and which probably has been taken by the Government of France, if the United States Government did not feel that the request made by the Japanese Government, if acceded to, might prove embarrassing to the cause of the powers at war with Germany. There are several elements which contribute to this determination:

It is considered inadvisable to take any steps which will unnecessarily antagonize at this time any of the various elements of the people which now control the power in Russia;
The necessity for intervention has not in the opinion of this Government arisen and decision concerning it may be postponed in order that it may be further considered in the light of circumstances as they may develop;
If the necessity for intervention should arise it may become expedient in the circumstances then existing to have military cooperation to that end by the parties at war with Germany, or by such of them as may feel they should be asked to cooperate;
Unless the matter is broached to the Government of China and consented to by it, this Government may deem it advisable to consider whether harmonious cooperation might not be promoted if such part of the Trans-Siberian Railroad as crosses the territory of China should be guarded and protected by the military forces of China.

The Government of the United States considers that it would be particularly unfortunate to do anything now which would tend to estrange from our common interests any considerable portion of the people of Russia, and that circumstances do not seem to warrant at this time a decision to take steps in Siberia which would, in its opinion, have the effect of arousing Russian opposition and resentment.

You will please make an opportunity to lay the matter orally before the authorities of the Government to which you are accredited. You will express the hope that that Government will in consideration of the views expressed agree with the Government of the United States that it will be for the best interests of the powers at war with Germany and Austria to adopt the course of action suggested and avoid a commitment at the present time.

  1. The same, on the same date, to the Ambassadors in France (No. 3181) and Japan (unnumbered), with instructions to repeat to the Minister in China.