The Secretary of State to the Sinclair Exploration Company

Gentlemen: The Department has received your letter of April 2, 1923, in which you refer to your purpose to despatch an expedition next summer to Northern Sakhalin, there to carry on oil explorations in connection with the contract which formed the subject of your letter of February 7, 1923, and the Department’s reply thereto of March 17.

You say that it was not your desire to have the Department make any communication to the Japanese Government on the subject of this contract but merely to apprise it of the expected arrival of the exploration party, with a view to their receiving such treatment as American citizens have a right to expect from the officials of a friendly power; and you add that in ordinary circumstances this would presumably be effected by the issuance of a passport by the Department and that no special notification would be required, but you assume that the Department would be unwilling to issue to the American citizens in your party passports valid for travel in the region in question.

American passports are now issued valid expressly for “all countries.” The Department is prepared to furnish passports in this standard form to members of your party who make application therefor and are entitled to receive passports, and there would be no objection on the part of this Government to the use of these passports for the purposes of travel or sojourn in Northern Sakhalin. A passport issued by one government does not, however, confer a right upon its holder to enter territory within the sovereignty or under the actual control of another government except with the consent of the latter. While Japan maintains in fact a military occupation of Northern Sakhalin, though this Government has expressed the view that the occupation should not continue, the exercise of effective authority in the region in question remains with the Japanese Government.

There is no objection on the Department’s part to your communicating with the Japanese authorities directly concerning the admission of your party, but special representations on the subject by this Government would inevitably bring into question the contract above mentioned, and the Department is not prepared, for the reasons stated in its letter to you of March 17, 1923, to take cognizance thereof.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes