361.1123 L 25/11a: Telegram

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

11. Please deliver to the Foreign Office a note to the following effect:

“By the instructions of my Government I have the honor to invite your attention to the serious and regrettable incident which occurred at Vladivostok on January 8, 1921, and which resulted in the death of Lieutenant W. H. Langdon, an Engineer officer on board the U. S. S. Albany now at that port. From the reports that have reached the Department of State, it appears that Lieutenant Langdon [Page 356] was returning to his ship, using a hand lamp. When he reached a spot opposite the Japanese Division Headquarters, the sentry ran across the street and halted him. After informing the sentry that he was an American he proceeded on his way when he was shot in the back by the sentry, the ball passing out at the left side of his chest. This wound ultimately caused his death.

The essential facts are clear and would seem to be undisputed. An American Naval officer, in full uniform, was shot in the back and killed by a Japanese military sentry on foreign soil over which Japan exercises no jurisdiction, and on which Japanese have no rights superior to those of other aliens who may be there. The Government of the United States is convinced that the Government of Japan will make prompt and suitable reparation for the utterly unjustified action of the Japanese sentry. If this were an isolated instance of misdirected activity, it might be possible to regard it as no more than a deplorable incident without particular significance. It is, however, unfortunately the fact that reports received by the American Government indicate that this is merely the most serious of a number of like cases of interference with American citizens in portions of Siberia where Japanese troops are stationed. The Japanese forces there have apparently assumed supervision and control which would be justified only in a land over which their government exercised sovereignty and which cannot but result in irritations and misunderstandings.

While the Government of the United States does not underestimate the possibilities of disorder which are latent in the present disturbed political conditions in Eastern Siberia, it is more than ever persuaded that the continued presence of large numbers of foreign troops on Russian soil tends only to inflame these conditions and retard the efforts of the Russian people to attain a more ordered and efficient form of government which will grant to all foreigners full and adequate protection. …”

A copy of the above is being handed to Japanese Ambassador.

Repeat to Vladivostok and communicate as you find most convenient to Admiral Gleaves.