The Department of State to the British Embassy


The Secretary of State has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the memorandum No. 249 from the British Embassy dated March 30, 1921, referring to the last paragraph of the Embassy’s memorandum No. 218 of March 14 last, and asking whether the Department of State is prepared to instruct the diplomatic representative of the United States at Tokyo to make representations, either separately or conjointly with his British colleague, to prevent any relaxation of the embargo on the part of the Japanese Government.

The Secretary of State has the honor to observe in reply that as early as March 19 last, it advised its representative at Tokyo of the contents of the British Embassy’s memorandum of March 14, 1921, and instructed him to make the same statement with regard to the arrival of alleged American arsenal equipment at Canton as was made to the British Embassy at Washington in the Department’s memorandum of March 24, 1921, and add that this Government had 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 the manufacture of black and smokeless powder at Liutaokou in the district of Antung.

With reference to the British Embassy’s request, renewed in its memorandum under acknowledgment, the Embassy is advised that a joint resolution of Congress, approved March 3, 1921, repealed the provisions of the Espionage Act of June 15, 1917, which gave the United States Government the power to control the export of arms and ammunition, thus depriving the Department of State of any legal basis upon which to exercise control over shipments of arms to China. The Department is now endeavoring to obtain from Congress a renewal of the necessary legal authority to control shipmerits [Page 556] of arms to China, and until its position in that regard has been made more secure by the enactment of such legislation as is at present hoped for, the Department does not feel that it would be wise for it to take more formal action at Tokyo, such as is proposed by the British Embassy.