The Chargé in Japan (MacMurray) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received March 7, 4.34 a.m.]
Simultaneously with subsidence of the interest aroused by Obata incident11 about a fortnight ago the Japanese press began to carry numerous items many of them professing to be based on statements made by unnamed officials which seem designed to create distrust of American activities in China and which seek particularly to spread the belief that American residents there are responsible for anti-Japanese feeling of the Chinese.
Most of the newspapers recently printed an article bearing indications of official instructions [inspiration?] to the effect that certain American missionaries in Tientsin under instructions of the American authorities are accused of inciting the Chinese against Japan. Hochi has published a telegram that the houses of Japanese residents in Tongshan have been searched by our troops on the suspicion of hiding morphine and added that the Japanese authorities here admitted of similar information. The same newspaper also urges editorially that the American missionaries in China are spies, making it their business to injure Japan’s reputation and working more openly now that the American policy of penetration in China has become more undisguised; and that America is a new Germany intriguing to obtain for itself the position formerly held by Germany in China.
In an article entitled “Publication of American-Chinese Secret Agreement,” apparently in reference to the Bethlehem Steel Corporation contract of 1911 Tamato March 1 stated that that agreement provided that the United States could establish shipyards wheresoever desired along the coast of China in which to build warships exclusively [Page 687]to be actually lent though ostensibly sold to China; and that the American Government had recently attempted to enforce this agreement, and naming Tong Shao-yi and others as connected with the agreement. The newspaper states that “Such being the case, the fact that the Southern notables in China are assuming a mistaken attitude toward Japan is due to obligations to a certain country and also to its laborers [sic]. There is reason to interpret the publication of plea [plan] for [internationalization] of Chinese railways12 as a transfiguration of the secret agreement referred [to] or as a quid pro quo for this pact. Greater caution is therefore necessary for the conduct of Japan’s policy toward China.”
Semi-official Kokusai news service February 25 quoted an announcement of the War Office that it had received a telegram in regard to John Jay Abbott’s visit China13 which ended with the statement that “It is reported that negotiations are going on between the finance department of China and American capitalists for a loan of 5,000,000 yen with the object of employing the new loan for the emergency defense expenditures.”
The newspapers have generally referred to the substance of the following statement circulated by Kokusai February 28. “Apropos of the alleged desire on the part of America to obtain the concession of the former German settlement in Tientsin, as reported in a vernacular paper this morning, the authorities in the foreign affairs department declare that it was agreed upon by the members of the Diplomatic Corps in Peking in December last year that the disposal of the said settlement should be left with the decision of the Peace Conference. Any arguments in favor of the said settlement through the channels other than the Peace Conference would be futile.” Although it may be true as far as it goes, this statement lends itself to the apparent confirmation of the rumor that the United States is in fact seeking the reversion of German rights.
I have just learned in strict confidence that the statements above quoted as proceeding from the War Office and the Foreign Office were both given to Kokusai by the chief of the first section of the political bureau of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
It seems clear that Government officials are countenancing, if not in fact encouraging, the spread of the conviction that American activities and intentions in regard to China are antagonistic to Japanese interests.