The Minister in China ( Reinsch ) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 2534

Sir: In connection with my despatch No. 2361 dealing with the Shantung railway, I have the honor to forward copies of the exchange of notes made at Tokyo on December [September] 24, 1918 between the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Minister to Japan.83 It will be seen that the reports [sic] sent in by the Consul at Tsinanfu, enclosed in my despatch No. 2361 was substantially correct, although the Consul’s report also includes the two railways newly granted to the Japanese as part of the concession under this arrangement.

In connection with this agreement it must be noted that the exchange took place immediately before the change of Government at Peking from President Feng to President Hsu. It was so timed that President Hsu, upon his accession, would find himself with action already taken. In Japan, too, the change from the Terauchi to the Hara Ministry was impending. The method of getting these agreements with their attendant financial considerations out of the way at this time would then enable Premier Hara to treat them as commercial arrangements made at the time of his predecessor, responsibility for which he had inherited. It is generally here asserted that the Chinese Minister at Tokyo acted only upon informal instructions from the Minister of Communications, Tsao Ju-lin, on the supposition that this was a matter to be controlled by the Railway Department. The facts about this are not known to me nor the time [Page 571] at which the Chinese Foreign Office at Peking was informed about the matter. Needless to say the entire procedure was most extraordinary; Governments do not ordinarily accord important concessions or give away valuable rights by action of their Ministers in foreign capitals. Now that the actual provisions of this agreement have become known in China, the opinion among the Chinese seems to be crystalizing that this exchange of notes cannot claim validity as an international agreement which it could only have after ratification by the national Parliament. It is also believed that the rights affected by this exchange are not for Japan and China to dispose of without previous consultation with the other Allies.

I have [etc.]

Paul S. Reinsch
[Enclosure 1—Translation]

The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Goto ) to the Chinese Minister in Japan ( Chang Tsung-hsiang )

Sir: In view of the neighbourly feelings of friendship between our two countries, the Government of Japan, being desirous of arranging matters in a spirit of harmony, has drawn up an agreement which it regards as a satisfactory settlement of all outstanding questions relating to the Province of Shantung, and I now have the honour to bring this proposal to the notice of your Government. The terms of the proposed agreement are as follows:—


All Japanese troops stationed along the Shantung Railway—with the exception of one Company which will be left at Tsinan—will be withdrawn to Tsingtao.


The Chinese Government may establish a Police Force which shall take over the duty of guarding the railway.


The Administration of the Shantung Railway shall set aside a sufficient sum to meet the expenses of the Police Force.


Japanese subjects are to be employed at the Headquarters of this Police Force and at all important stations and in the Police Training School.


Among the employes of the Shantung Railway posts shall be given to Chinese subjects also.

[Page 572]


After it has been definitely decided to whom the Shantung Railway is to belong the railway is to be placed under the joint management of China and Japan.


The Civil Administration Offices now in existence are to be abolished.

I have the honour to request that you will communicate to me the views of your Government with regard to the above proposal.

I have [etc.]

Baron Goto
[Enclosure 2—Translation]

The Chinese Minister in Japan ( Chang Tsung-hsiang ) to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Goto )

Sir: I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter couched in the following terms:—

(Quotes in full letter from Minister for Foreign Affairs of September 24, 1918.)

I have the honour to inform you that the Government of China accepts with pleasure the proposal contained in the letter quoted above.

I have [etc.]

Seal of
Chang Tsung Hsiang
  1. See also Foreign Relations, 1918, p. 205. The Department is advised by the Japanese Government that the original text of the note of the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs was rendered in Japanese and that of the Chinese Minister to Japan in Chinese.