The Department of State to the Japanese Embassy

It was stated in the press in Japan during January, 1921, that General Semenoff,12 since his arrival in Port Arthur on December 6, 1920, had come to a definite understanding with General Chang Tzo Lin, the Chinese Governor-General of Manchuria. As a result of this understanding it was expected, according to this press report, that General Semenoff would resume his activities in the near future. There was an account of a dinner given by General Semenoff to a large company, at a Japanese restaurant in Port Arthur, at which General Ogata, the Commander of the Port Arthur forts, responded on behalf of the guests to a speech made by Semenoff. In the course of his speech the Japanese officer said that, although Semenoff’s activities during the past four years had not been crowned with success, he had no doubt that the influence and popularity of the Cossack Ataman would result in bringing the Trans-Baikal district under his sway. He is credited with saying further that the present was simply a period of preparations for future activities and that [Page 706] he hoped General Semenoff would carefully lay his plans in order to win the final victory. In the event of Semenoff’s resuming activities, he (General Ogata) believed that Japan would take some positive step.

During April the press in Japan referred to the extraordinary war estimate of 100,000,000 yen, passed by the Japanese Diet, and called attention to the inclusion therein of expenditures necessary in connection with the stationing of Japanese troops in Sakhalin, the inauguration of civil administration in that province, the building of permanent barracks at Nikolaievsk, Decastri and Alexandrovsk, the making of roads connecting these places, and the construction of telegraph lines.

Aside from the press reports of which the foregoing are cited merely as examples, information reached this Government from sources not of a public character. From Port Arthur word was received of a letter said to have been despatched by General Semenoff to the Japanese Minister of War. According to the report, this document contained the statement by General Semenoff, that General Tachibana, the Japanese Commander-in-Chief in Siberia, had approved the formation of a so-called League to Combat Communism, composed of the Japanese military, General Semenoff, the Chinese Governor-General of Manchuria (Chang Tzo Lin), the Orenburg, Trans-Baikal and Ussuri Cossacks, and the Russian anti-Bolshevik elements in Manchuria. Reference was made to the fact that the Japanese Imperial military command would take upon itself the initiative of establishing this League.

Other reports coming from private, and possibly unreliable sources, referred to plans alleged to have been made by the Japanese military authorities for the concerted action of Japanese forces with Generals Ungern-Sternberg13 and Chang Tzo Lin in Mongolia and Manchuria, and the forces of General Semenoff, the late General Kappel,14 and other anti-Bolshevik leaders in Siberia. Reports of this character were received with special frequency and from a diversity of sources at the time of the conference of Japanese military and civil authorities at Tokyo in May, at which it was understood that Japan’s future policy in Siberia would be considered. Many of these reports sought, possibly maliciously, to attribute to the Japanese military leaders a purpose of creating and maintaining unrest in Eastern Siberia as an argument for still longer delaying the withdrawal of the Japanese military forces.

  1. Gregory Semenov, ataman of the Far Eastern Cossacks.
  2. Baron Ungern Sternberg, formerly a captain in the Russian Imperial Army in Siberia, had entered Mongolia and taken Urga.
  3. Gen. Vladimir Oskarovich Kappel, who died early in 1920, had commanded a force in support of Admiral Kolchak.