893.113/122a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Japan ( Bell )62

49. A joint resolution of Congress approved March 3, 1921,60 repealing certain sections of the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917,59 has deprived this Government of any legal basis under which it can control shipments of arms and munitions to China as provided for in the joint declaration made on May 5, 1919 by the diplomatic [Page 553] representatives of Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Brazil and Japan.63 This Government has not changed its policy in this regard however and is seeking from Congress legislation necessary to enable it to continue control over shipments of arms to China and in the meantime will refuse to support any efforts on the part of American citizens to ship or sell arms to China. You will bring the above to the attention of the Japanese Foreign Office for its confidential information and express this Government’s hope that nothing will be done to change the present policy of the Powers in this matter.

You should add that this Government has been informed by the British Government of the receipt by its Embassy at Tokyo of a note from the Japanese Government urging the difficulty of the Japanese Government vis-à-vis Japanese merchants desirous of securing or of carrying out contracts for the supplying of arms or munitions to China and claiming that the position of the Japanese Government in this matter has been made more difficult by alleged sales to the Canton Government by Americans of machinery for manufacturing arms. You may inform the Japanese Foreign Office that investigation shows that certain machinery which appears to have arrived at Canton and to have been utilized at the Canton Arsenal left the United States consigned to a Chinese ship building concern at Canton and there was no indication that it was destined for the manufacture of arms and munitions of war covered by the arms embargo. You may add that the Department has been subjected to no little pressure from American merchants because of alleged violations of the embargo by Japanese merchants, notably the establishment by Japanese of a factory for explosives at Liutaokou in the district of Antung which it is understood is to be used for the manufacture of black and smokeless powder.

  1. First paragraph, with slight omission, sent also to the representatives in Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands, with instructions to “bring the above to the attention of the Government to which you are accredited.” (File no. 893.113/122b, c.)
  2. 41 Stat. 1359.
  3. 40 Stat. 217.
  4. Russia was also a party.