793.94/818: Telegram

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

The Minister for Foreign Affairs in our talk yesterday spoke of the recent newspaper attacks on American purpose and policies and expressed the hope that a statement he was about to issue would help to dissipate the prevailing atmosphere of suspicion. The statement appears in all the papers this morning. In this statement the Foreign Minister says that the many important diplomatic problems before the world can only be solved in a spirit of goodwill and of [Page 693]confidence in other powers and that calm and unbiased judgment should guide people in estimating the conduct of other nations. He adds that while the Japanese should be careful not to lose sight of the standpoint of their own country they should try to appreciate the point of view of the people of other nations.

“Suspicion or prejudice not warranted by actual facts or the display of selfishness without due weight being accorded to the interests of others is deplorable in any case and is doubly dangerous at the present moment when the whole structure of international relations is in the process of reorganization looking to the establishment of a solid and lasting peace.”

He regrets the grave charges which were made by the press recently without any supporting evidence and without regard to possible consequences against the attitude of friendly powers in China, Siberia and Korea. He pointed out that certain foreign journalists in China have been equally guilty of disseminating mischievous reports going so far as to accuse Japan of having contemplated making a separate peace with Germany and exhorts his fellow countrymen not to follow their bad example.

“If concrete facts are shown justifying the apprehension that our legitimate rights and interests are being disregarded by any foreign power the only effective way of defending those rights and interests is to communicate with the power in question freely and frankly pointing out the actual facts of the case which may thus have engaged our attention.”

He states that no grounds for any such apprehension exist at present but that the Government would proceed on the course of action above outlined if there were (omission). There are some people, he says, who entertain serious misgivings as to Japan’s true intentions in her relations with China even crediting Japan [with] designing to modify her avowed policy of returning Kiaochow to China.

“But I reaffirm Baron Making’s17 statement issued to the press in Paris on May 4th [15th].18 Japan will keep every word which she has passed. Shantung peninsula will be handed back to China in full sovereignty and all arrangements made to promote the mutual benefit of the two nations will be loyally observed.”

He asserts that China by entering the war secured from the Associated Powers the suspension of the payment of the Boxer indemnity and the raising of the tariff to an effective 5 per cent, also that other terms of value to China would be included in the peace [Page 694]treaty. He states that Japan gladly supported China in her legitimate aspirations and that Japan will adhere to the policy announced at the last session of the Diet which places Sino-Japanese relations on a basis of justice and in the (omission).

  1. Plenipotentiary of Japan at Peace Conference.
  2. For the terms of this statement as quoted in President Wilson’s statement of Aug. 6, see telegram, Aug. 6, to the Ambassador in Japan, p. 719.