File No. 861.77/483

The Chargé in Japan (Spencer) to the Secretary of State


I have to-day received the following memorandum from Minister for Foreign Affairs:1

Japanese Government fully realize the situation in which it has been found advisable by the Government of the United States to make an arrangement proposed in the memorandum of American Embassy of September 3 for placing in Mr. Stevens’s hands general direction of the Trans-Siberian and Chinese Eastern Railways. They presume that the proposals have been actuated solely by considerations of military necessity as no other reason would seem to justify a measure which will necessitate displacement of Russian officials contemplated in those proposals. Whatever may be said against General Horvat of his recent political move, it can not be denied that he was duly appointed as director of the Chinese Eastern Railway and that his appointment was duly confirmed by the last recognized Government of Russia. In that capacity he is also lawfully in charge of the Ussuri Railway administration which has under Russian law been entrusted to the Chinese Eastern Railway. It is well understood that Mr. Stevens and members of railway units under his supervision were equally chosen and empowered by same Government of Russia which confirmed General Horvat’s authority and are being paid and supported out of funds belonging to Russian people. It would, however, appear that they were so chosen and empowered for specific mission of giving technical advice to Russian Government and railway officials, and that neither Advisory Commission of Railway Experts under Mr. Stevens nor Russian Railway Service Corps under Colonel Emerson have been authorized to assume direction of Russian railways or generally to act as agents of Russian people outside scope of defined mission. Accordingly Japanese Government sincerely apprehends that if General Horvat and railway officials under him were to be removed by foreign powers from office which they have lawfully held, such action might with good reason be regarded as constituting intervention in Russia’s domestic administration which it has always been the avowed policy of Associated Governments to denounce. It then remains to examine whether the measure now proposed would be warranted by military necessity of supreme importance. It will be remembered that at conference of the Allied military representatives and Russian railway officials held at Vladivostok on August 21 it was decided that direction and management of Russian railways be left in hands of Russian officials. No doubt the question of military necessity was carefully weighed by the Allied officers who took part in the conference and full importance should be placed on the decision [Page 258] then adopted, representing as it does the considered views of military experts on the spot.

In this situation Japanese Government are frankly of opinion that in the absence of absolute necessity for the purpose of military transportation, it would be a safer course for any of cobelligerents to refrain from action such as is now proposed which, with all its good intentions, might readily give rise to serious misgivings and frictions.

Repeated to Ambassador Morris.

  1. Text corrected after comparison with the original in the Japanese Foreign Office (File No. 026 Foreign Relations/326).