File No. 861.77/460
The Ambassador in Japan (Morris) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 4, 10.27 a.m.]
I to-day conveyed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs the proposals in reference to the Siberian railways as contained in your telegram of August 30, 4 p.m., and at his request I left with him a memorandum containing the substance of those proposals.
He replied that Mr. Kinoshita, one of the officials of the Imperial railways, had gone to Siberia to investigate conditions and was in cordial relations with Mr. Stevens; that he had been carefully considering how our Governments might cooperate in improving the transportation conditions, but that there were two difficulties.
In the first place he understood that the Allied miliary council at Vladivostok had decided to take over the railways as far as possible in the interest of the military operations and that at least for the present the plan suggested might conflict with these military plans, and in the second place he feared that the Allied Governments represented at Vladivostok might not look with favor on a plan which placed the railways under such control.
In reply to the first objection I pointed out that the military authorities had no adequate force to operate properly such a system [Page 242]and I was under the impression that after discussion they had decided not to attempt it. He thought I was misinformed but later sent a representative to advise me that my impression was correct. In reply to the second objection I emphasized the fact that Stevens and his associates were not the representatives of any outside power but the paid agents of the Russian people. He then stated that his Government would give immediate consideration to the proposals and when I urged prompt action in the interest of all the Allied activities in Russia, where the need for adequate transportation was pressing, he replied that it would be necessary to consult General Otani, which might take several days.
In the course of the conversation I took occasion to explain the attitude of our Government including [concerning?] their Manchouli expedition. He seemed disappointed that my statement was limited to the Manchouli expedition and said that he was anxiously waiting for some indication of the attitude of our Government toward the proposed dispatch of troops to Vladivostok and Karymskaya.
He then called my attention to the recent appointment of Siberian commissioners by France and Great Britain and explained that Matsudaira was in no sense a commissioner but merely attached to the staff of General Otani. He stated further that both France and Great Britain were urging the Japanese Government to appoint a commissioner. He felt that this was an important question and involved the larger question of intervention which still remained undecided. He has directed Ishii to ascertain how our Government viewed this question and he hoped I would advise you of the importance he attached to it.