861.77/611: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Morris) to the Acting Secretary of State

As reported in my January 9, 7 p.m.3 immediately upon receipt of a copy of Stevens’4 telegram to the Department accepting plan for operation of the railways, I called upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs and informed him that the plan would be approved by our Government. I acted quickly because two days ago my British colleague received instructions to submit [different?] plan and urge its acceptance. Fortunately the instructions were so garbled that he was compelled to ask for a repetition, and thus I was enabled to counsel with the Minister for Foreign Affairs before my British colleague was in a position to carry out his instructions. I have just notified him that the matter is concluded and he tells me that [Page 591]he will not act upon the repeated telegram when received, and he assumes that you will now cordially endorse the agreement which we have reached with Japan.

I submitted to Viscount Uchida5 and obtained his approval of following memorandum of points which we had previously discussed and agreed on:

  • “1. That Viscount Uchida will forward the amended plan to Viscount Ishii6 with instructions to present it to the Department of State, and to explain that it is submitted with the understanding that Mr. Stevens be named as president.
  • 2. That the Inter-Allied Committee shall be composed of one representative of each of the following Governments: China, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, leaving question of Czecho-Slovaks to be discussed.
  • 3. That each of the above named Governments shall select one technical railway expert for membership on the Technical Board.
  • [4.] That Mr. Stevens’ selection as president shall not prevent his selection as a member of the Technical Board.
  • 5. That the Government of Japan and the United States shall at once advise the above named Associated Governments of agreed plan, including the understanding in reference to the selection of Mr. Stevens, and request their adherence and cordial cooperation.
  • 6. That this plan shall be interpreted as a sincere effort to join the Chinese-Eastern and Trans-Siberian Railways in the interest of the Russian people with a view to their ultimate return to those in interest without the impairing of any existing rights.
  • 7. That in trusting to Mr. Stevens as president the technical operation of these railways, it is understood the Government[s] of Japan and the United States are both prepared to give him the authority and support which will be necessary to make his efforts effective.”

Viscount Uchida suggested that our two Governments might agree to instruct their Ambassadors to join in advising the Associated Governments of the understanding reached. He further expressed the hope that I would go to Vladivostok to assist in the preliminary arrangement. Stevens also telegraphed as follows: “Presume matter should be closed up at Vladivostok and you should be there by all means.”

I would appreciate the Department’s judgement as to the wisdom of my leaving for Vladivostok in the near future. In the event of my going I would request authorization to take with me Thomas Smith, one of the coding clerks who speaks Russian, and Ballantine, who speaks Japanese.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1918, Russia, vol. iii, p. 306. The plan of operation is described in preceding telegrams from the Ambassador printed in the same volume.
  2. John F. Stevens, Chairman of the Advisory Commission of Railway Experts to Russia.
  3. Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Japanese Ambassador at Washington.