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

No. 415

Sir: I have the honor to report that since my return from Vladivostok in the early part of March, last, Mr. Stevens and Mr. [Page 607]Smith have kept me fully informed by telegrams and reports of the progress made in the execution of the plan for the supervision of the Chinese Eastern and trans-Siberian Railways. Any facts reported which seemed to me of importance I have transmitted to the Department by cable. I am also aware that both Mr. Stevens and Mr. Smith have, as requested, communicated directly with the Department. It is not necessary therefore to attempt any detailed review of the progress made. It is my purpose in this despatch merely to supplement previous information and enclose a few selected documents taken from the Embassy files which I hope will throw additional light on the situation. I devoted the last few days of my stay in Vladivostok in an effort to find a ground of agreement between Mr. Stevens and Mr. Nagao in regard to the distribution of Japanese railway experts. Mr. Stevens’ view was that in the interest of efficient management the fewer Japanese experts he employed, the better. Mr. Nagao, on the other hand, was greatly embarrassed by the pressure of the Japanese military authorities who were persistent in their demands that he should stand firm for full control of the operation of the entire Chinese Eastern system as well as the Ussuri and Amur Railways. Mr. Nagao was not in entire sympathy with the position of his own military authorities because as a technical railway man he realized that the American engineers were far more experienced in “long haul” problems than any of the men under his direction. He was fearful however that if he conceded too much he could not face the antagonism of the military group or the resentment of the Japanese public. After many extended discussions I reached a general understanding with Mr. Nagao which met the approval of Mr. Stevens. It was agreed that matters of detail should be worked out between them without any further interference from me so I left Vladivostok on the day arranged for their final interview. The result of this interview is reported in Mr. Nagao’s letter and enclosure to me of March 11th which is attached herewith and marked “Exhibit No. 1”. I confess I was surprised to find in Mr. Nagao’s memorandum a reference to the possibility of changing the gauge of the line between Changchun and Harbin. This was never mentioned in our discussions. Mr. Stevens, however, seems to have fully protected his approval of this suggestion by the proviso which he added. …

. . . . . . .

I have [etc.]

Roland S. Morris
[Page 608]

The Director of the Japanese Imperial Government Railways (Nagao) to the American Ambassador (Morris)

Dear Sir: I have to express here my sincere appreciation of Your Excellency’s kind efforts in connection with the Allied control of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Chinese Eastern Railway, the efforts to which my country, as well as myself personally, are greatly indebted. I presume you will have safely arrived at Tokyo when this reaches to your hand. On the day you left here I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Stevens and discussed on the subject of the railway control, the interview lasting fully for one and [one-] half hours. I am glad to be able to report to you that the result of the meeting was thoroughly satisfactory to both of us, a complete understanding having been obtained between the two.

My topics of conversation with Mr. Stevens covered the control by Japan of the Southern Branch of the Chinese Eastern Line and a portion of the line between Nikolsk and Habarovsk of the Ussurie Railway under the direct supervision of the President of the Technical Board. Placing of Japanese Inspectors along with American Inspectors appointed by the President has also been agreed to by Mr. Stevens. It was further agreed by Mr. Stevens that in order to utilize cars and engines, the former numbering some 800 and the latter more than twenty, in the Southern Branch line, Japan may take steps to standardize the gauge of the line under her control, provided the Russian Government consents to that. This involves a delicate diplomacy, and we have to be extremely cautious in bringing the matter up. As to leaving the control to the hand of the Japanese, Mr. Stevens also agreed to do it in near future when he comes to be satisfied with the Japanese handling of the traffic according to American Dispatch System.

In conclusion I wish to say that it is my earnest desire to have you continue your kind efforts in the future as in the past directly and indirectly to the end that our common endeavors will be successful in saving from collapse one of the world’s greatest highways, a path from the Orient to the center of the European civilization, and at the same time promoting the interest of the Allied Powers, particularly of the Russian people, a realization of the spirit of international cooperation aimed at by the League of Nations formulated by your worthy President Wilson at Versailles.

Wishing [etc.]

H. Nagao
[Page 609]

Memorandum of the Director of the Japanese Imperial Government Railways (Nagao)

Mr. Nagao agrees with the plan submitted by Mr. Stevens, except that portion bearing to the control of the section between Changchun and Harbin in the Chinese Eastern and the Ussurie Lines, which will be controlled by the Japanese directly under the supervision of the President of the Technical Board.

Mr. Stevens agrees to Japan’s controlling the section between Changchun and Harbin and Nikolsk-Ussuriski and Habarovsk, provided trains between Nikolsk and Vladivostok be handled by American despatchers in accordance with Japanese requests; and to have a Japanese office installed in the Vladivostok Station Building to handle the terminus station business in connection with the Ussurie Line.

Mr. Nagao agrees to Mr. Stevens’ suggestions to have Japanese inspectors placed by the side of American inspectors in the Chinese Eastern Districts and Divisions east of Harbin in order to have them assist and cooperate with the latter, provided no other nationality be mixed for the sake of conveniences.

Mr. Nagao has no objection to placing Chinese experts by the side of American Division Inspectors to assist and cooperate with the latter in the portion of the line west of Harbin in the Chinese Eastern Line.

Mr. Stevens has no objection, if Japan wishes to control the whole of the Amour Line which is being guarded by the Japanese Military forces, such controlling to be done directly under the supervision of the President of the Technical Board.

Mr. Stevens has no objection to Japan’s standardizing the gauge between Changchun and Harbin (provided the Russian authorities have no objection to [it]) in order to be able to utilize the cars and engines in other parts of the Chinese Eastern Line and Ussurie or Amour Line.

Mr. Stevens will leave the control of the Chinese Eastern Line, including the Ussurie Line, under the supervision of the President, to the hand of the Japanese, in case he should come in near future to be satisfied with Japanese handling by Dispatching System.

Mr. Stevens agrees to adopting what Japan thinks the best fitted for the lines under Japanese control in place of American dispatch system.