The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in China (Reinsch)
Following concerns Tientsin affair.
Washington Post July 1st contained long article on Tientsin matter saying Japanese had made full apologies and quoting texts of statements made to American Consul by Japanese Acting Consul General and by Japanese General to Colonel Wilder. The Department has been very much embarrassed to receive through the Press information of these important statements. The Acting Secretary [Page 431] was questioned by the press men at a conference following publication and was forced to announce that satisfaction was not complete. In an endeavor to save further complications and misunderstanding Japanese Chargé d’Affaires was called to the Department yesterday afternoon, and referring to publication that morning, was told that the Department had not been sufficiently advised and that the statements as reported in the press did not accord complete satisfaction in following particulars: (1) the false arrest and detention of Americans in the French concession by Japanese military police; (2) Misstatement by Japanese police inspector at Japanese jail to the effect that there were no Americans in the jail at that time. Presuming that the police inspector unintentionally misstated the fact, the Department feels that the responsibility is his, and that he should have been presumed to know the facts, and should assume responsibility for misstatement, particularly on occasion of a call in person by the American Consul General. It is felt that the Police inspector should make some statement or that some Japanese authority acting for him should do so, to the effect that his statement was unintentionally made, and not intended to be misleading. (3) Question of compensation to unarmed American soldier so treated by Japanese Military police that he suffered from bayonet wounds a serious injury causing paralysis from the waist down, which compensation had been mentioned, according to press reports, by the Japanese Consul at Tientsin. The Department has said in response to inquiry that it did not insist upon such compensation but that the United States Government felt that it would be a very courteous and appropriate thing for the Japanese to do, to evidence their intention of following the statement of the Japanese Consul as reported.
You will please instruct the American Consul in Tientsin to the above effect.
Department cabled you June 2  that Japanese Government had instructed its Minister at Peking to call on you and discuss with you frankly the Tientsin matter with a view to making apologies to you for any acts wrongfully committed by Japanese in that affair. The Department now qualifies above statement which was due to misconstruction by the Third Assistant Secretary, to following extent that “in the interests of amicable settlement of the Tientsin affair, the Japanese Government have decided to express through the Acting Consul General at Tientsin their regret on the points wherein they feel the Japanese are responsible and to insist further on the points wherein they believe the Japanese have reason. The Japanese Minister at Peking has been telegraphically instructed to [Page 432] take immediately the necessary steps along the lines decided by the Government.”38 It will be seen that it was intended that the Japanese Minister discuss fully and frankly with you this matter. Department has advised Japanese Chargé that Japanese Minister appears not to have carried out the instructions in so far as a frank exchange of views and full cooperation with you are concerned. On the other hand the Department feels that you may have hesitated to cooperate with the Japanese Minister. The Department desires you to hold yourself in readiness frankly and amicably to go into the matter with him, being guided by the first part of this telegram. Japanese Chargé is cabling his Government today asking that it send additional instructions to their Minister to approach you. This is felt to be necessary to a proper adjustment. A speedy and satisfactory disposition is most desirable.
The Japanese have repeatedly referred to the presence of United States soldiers in the Japanese concession on the night of March 12. The Department understands now that there were no American soldiers there at that time. However, in the interests of conciliation the Department desires to be immediately advised by cable whether there is any evidence to support the allegation that there were American soldiers in the Japanese concession on that night, and has stated to the Japanese Chargé that if there were any such evidence, we would take appropriate steps.
The Department desires to impress upon you the necessity for according careful, quick and diplomatic attention to this affair, and cooperating with your Japanese colleague to the fullest extent consistent with dignity and propriety.
- Quotation from aide-mémoire left at the Department by the Japanese Chargé, July 2 (File No. 893.00/3149); not printed.↩