The British Embassy to the Department of State


His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokio has reported the transmission by the Japanese Government of a note verbale, which has no doubt been addressed equally to the representatives of Powers other than Great Britain, regarding the importation of arms into China.

This note states that some subjects of the Powers concerned seem to have acted in disregard of the arms agreement during recent political disturbances. It alludes in courteous language to the alleged fact that British Vickers Aeroplanes have been used for dropping bombs and reconnaissance and that H.M.G. had to interfere.

It states that the Italians have furnished arms to the Government of Chekiang and that the Italian Minister does not deny sales of arms in China. Also that American firms have delivered arms valued at $1,000,000.

While the agreement has thus been violated and the Powers concerned seem to have taken no effective measures of control, Japanese merchants are being pressed by the Chinese to deliver goods already contracted for and the return of money paid in advance is demanded under threat of legal proceedings. The Japanese Government find it very difficult to restrain them from execution of valid contracts and settling matter at their own risk.

The Japanese Government have been awaiting the result of the identic telegram despatched by the Ministers at Peking to their Governments last September31 but they fear that this step will only end in condoning the Italian breach of faith.

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  1. See telegram no. 267, Sept. 23, 1920, from the Minister in China, ibid., p. 749.