861.00/6111: Telegram

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

9. Supplementing my January 9, noon. I conferred with the Minister for Foreign Affairs at his request this afternoon. He read to me the telegram received from General Oi which stated that on January 8th General Graves had written an official letter to General Oi advising him that he had been instructed to withdraw all American troops from the sections of the railway which they were now guarding. General Graves further stated that he proposed to begin the withdrawal from the Pascoe [Spasskoe?] district on January 9th and would continue the other withdrawals as promptly as possible.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs further informed me that in conversation with General Inagaki of the Japanese staff in Siberia, General Graves had explained that he had received orders on December 31st to prepare for withdrawal but had been instructed to keep these orders secret; that the final decision to withdraw had been reached in Washington on January 5th; that it was to be published in Washington on January 7th; and that he was authorized to make it public in Vladivostok on January 8th. General Graves finally stated that transports were already on the way from Manila to Vladivostok and were expected to arrive on January 11th, 13th and 23rd. In view of transportation difficulties he doubted whether he could evacuate the troops at Verkhneudinsk before the middle of February.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs asked me whether I was in a position to affirm or deny the truth of this information. I told him that I was not and that I had received no intimation from my [Page 492] Government as to such proposed action nor had I heard anything from General Graves. He said he was utterly unable to account for such sudden action particularly at a time when the Japanese Government was discussing with our Government through Shidehara in a spirit of complete frankness the question of policy in Siberia. He further stated that as he understood it Shidehara had conference with Secretary Lansing on the subject of Siberia on two occasions but that no suggestion even had been made as to immediate withdrawal of American troops. The Minister for Foreign Affairs appeared greatly disturbed and explained that this action would place his Government in an extremely difficult position. He stated finally that apparently Shidehara ignorant of our Government’s decision to withdraw or he would have advised his Government by this time. I made no further comment except to assure that I would inform him as soon as I received any advices from my Government.