893.00/2991: Telegram

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

Following is a summary of a lengthy report on the Tientsin affair made public yesterday by the Japanese War Office:

We greatly regret that reports in the foreign press in China concerning the Tientsin affair are distortions. Some of the American soldiers have recently been behaving arrogantly in the Korean licensed brothels of the Japanese settlement in Tientsin and showing contempt towards the Chinese guards hired by the Japanese. The Japanese commandant therefore brought the matter to the attention of the American commandant on March 4 with a view to averting any possible incident, who gratefully acknowledged the necessity for guarding against such a possibility. On March 11, however, numerous American soldiers again visited the brothels and “committed arrogant excesses with the result that they came into a clash with Japanese passersby,” several persons being injured. The next night 40 or 50 American soldiers invaded the Japanese settlement and “committed outrages on Japanese passersby in various places, striking them with clubs, stoning them and firing revolvers. Thus Japanese were exposed to danger and the excesses of the Americans were beyond words.” Some of the Americans also waylaid Japanese returning from a cinema hall in the French concession. Japanese concession police therefore requested Japanese troops to assist in protecting their nationals and about 100 of them were detailed to guard the border of the French concessions and the neighborhood of the cinema. Numbers of Japanese residents also collected near the border of the French settlement to rescue their compatriots. Being frightened by these precautions the Americans withdrew and order was restored.

“Since taking the above measures for the protection of Japanese life and property Commander Kanaya despatched an officer to the French concession to explain the reason for bringing Japanese troops into the French settlement and the understanding of the French authorities was secured. At the same time another officer was sent to the American commander to inform the latter of the perpetration of excesses by the American soldiers.”

Eleven Japanese were injured, two of them seriously. Two injured Americans were taken charge of by the Japanese police and after medical treatment handed over to their authorities. On the morning of the 13th the Japanese’ commander despatched an officer and a surgeon to express regret at the incident and steps were taken on both sides to prevent further collisions. “Since then the incident has been peacefully settled. In this connection we greatly regret to note that reports in the foreign press in China regarding the incident are distortions. …17 Whereas the Japanese brought injured American [Page 423]soldiers to police station to give them first medical aid, Japan is charged with detaining them in the police station and with maltreating them. ….18 Untrue reports were thus printed in some newspapers and they assumed an attitude of protest against Japan. Are they not ashamed of acting in this manner while raising an outcry in the world in the cause of justice and humanity?”

The Foreign Office at the same time issued the following somewhat conflicting statement:

“The altercation between the American soldiers and Japanese residents in Tientsin was indeed an unfortunate incident but it was after all nothing but an incidental affair without any foundation. The incident, briefly told, is as follows:

1.
About 8 afternoon March 11, several drunken Japanese who were taking a walk in the neighborhood of [omission] conducted by Koreans in the Japanese concession in Tientsin came into friction with three American soldiers. Two Chinese policemen employed by Japan and a Japanese resident, as well as another American soldier, joined in a quarrel. As the result five Japanese and three Americans were wounded. The four American soldiers were first taken to the Japanese Consulate, the same night turned over to the American military authorities.
2.
The foregoing was the circumstances of the rise [?] of the incident. Such an incident is not an unusual thing. The Japanese [and] the American authorities have done their best to maintain order, to prevent more friction. Unfortunately on the next day at 8 afternoon American soldiers, organized in a body, entered the Japanese concession and beat and wounded three Japanese. Another party also attacked and wounded seven Japanese.
3.
Whereupon the Japanese, enraged, pursued the American soldiers who retreated into the French concession, and capturing one of the Americans, took him to the Consulate. Again, a crowd of Japanese attempt[ed] to lead the American soldiers out of the gate of brothels in the same concession but the doors Were tightly bolted from inside so that the Japanese could not enter. Some one fired a pistol from within so one Japanese requested the Chinese policemen in the French concession to open the gate. The crowd entered and took the Americans out and beat them. The Japanese soldiers sent out for precaution to the neighborhood protected the Americans and turned them over to the Japanese Consulate, from where they were immediately sent to a hospital for treatment.
4.
The friction in the Japanese and French concessions appeared practically to be put to an end by the strict control of the Japanese, American and French authorities but in the afternoon of March 13 when a Japanese named Kawamura, a resident of the British concession, went on a visit to a residence in the Japanese Consulate, he was attacked and beaten by four American soldiers who invaded the Consulate premises. These American soldiers fled. This is the last incident to date.
5.
The foregoing is a general account of the incident. The incident is not a serious one in itself but as it was deemed necessary to settle the matter peacefully as soon as possible the Japanese Consul in [Page 424]Tientsin opened negotiations with the American Consul and the American Army authorities. At the same time the Japanese Minister in China consulted with the American Minister and ordered secretaries from both the Legations to go to Tientsin and investigate the truth of the matter. These envoys are now investigating the question.[”]

Morris
  1. Omission indicated in telegram.
  2. Omission indicated in telegram.