The Sinclair Exploration Company to the Secretary of State
[Received April 4.]
Dear Sir: We are in receipt of your letter of March 17th (reference EE 861B.6363/43) regarding the expedition we plan to send to Sahalin this coming summer, which indicates to us that we failed in our letter of February 7th to make a clear presentation of our request.
In the first eleven paragraphs of our letter we endeavored, for your convenience, to review concisely some salient points in the situation. Our request to the State Department was contained in the last paragraph as follows:
“It might prove of decided assistance to the Sinclair Company in carrying out its contractual obligations if the State Department were to notify the Imperial Japanese Government of the expected early arrival of the Sinclair party on the Island this summer and request from them the usual courtesies and considerations which as American citizens they would expect from a nation with whom we maintain the friendliest relations.”
While it appeared to us that one of the steps necessary was that the Japanese Government be officially notified of the nature of the Company’s contract and the status of its representatives, it was, and is, our view that this notification should come from the Russian Government, for the reason that this Government is one of the contracting parties and the area covered by the contract is Russian territory, as was very forcibly pointed out by the Secretary of State at the Washington Conference.[Page 806]
The notification we ask of the State Department rests not on rights and privileges accorded by the contract, but on nationality. On this point the existence, or non-existence, of our contract with the Russian Government apparently does not arise, for in your letter you state, for reasons therein given, that “it is impossible for this Government to take official cognizance” of this contract. The scientists and engineers who will make up this expedition are American citizens, and the only point raised by our request is whether the American Government is willing to take the necessary steps to insure that they receive those things which American citizens have a right to expect from the officials of a friendly power. In ordinary circumstances this would presumably be effected by the issuance of a passport by the State Department and no such special notification would be required. The occasion for other action arises in this instance only because of the irregular and peculiar situation which exists in Northern Sahalin where the Japanese are exercising police control without sovereignty, or any claim to sovereignty, and without the consent or approval of the nation to whom this territory belongs, and which the Japanese Government is well aware is not regarded by the American Government as in any sense justified. Under these circumstances a passport to the Russian Government, even if one were issued, would not be effective, because of the existing Japanese military police control in this area. On the other hand, an ordinary passport to the Japanese Government covering or including in any way Russian Sahalin, might be construed as a reversal of the announced position of the State Department that Russian Sahalin is in no sense Japanese territory. It was for these reasons that we suggested a special note which would be in such form that it could not be construed by implication, or otherwise, as approving Japan’s occupation of Sahalin.
We regret that the distinction between these two points was not elaborated in our letter of February 7th. We certainly had no intention of requesting the State Department to notify the Japanese Government of our contract with the Russian Government. We desired merely to take all possible precautions for the protection of American citizens engaged in legitimate business.
If, after reviewing our request, as we trust you will in the light of the clarifications of this letter, you find you cannot grant the request we have made, will you please advise us what in the opinion of the State Department is the best way to safeguard to the fullest degree the interests of the American scientists and engineers whom we plan to send to Sahalin this summer for the purposes of study and investigation.
Yours very truly,