893.00 Nanking/16: Telegram

The Minister in China ( MacMurray ) to the Secretary of State

312. My 275, March 29, 10 a.m.

1. The Japanese Minister has received the following instructions from his Government:

  • “(1) The Japanese Government agree to all the proposals except the time limit in “B”.
  • (2) Chiang Kai-shek according to information in the possession of the Japanese Government is in a difficult position. At a meeting of the general council at Hankow the Communists endeavored to limit Chiang’s powers and seemed to be contemplating his downfall by placing him in a difficult position in connection with the Nanking affair. Consequently the adoption of a strong attitude by the powers and especially an indication of their intention to resort to force in case Chiang should fail to accept their terms might facilitate his downfall as desired by the Hankow Communists and might result in greater difficulty in the maintenance of order south of the Yangtze and anarchial conditions would become worse.

In these circumstances the best plan seems to be to allow the Chinese themselves to keep order in China by giving a chance to the more healthy elements to make an attempt at stabilization.

The Japanese Government agree that the Nanking affair is a very important one and that there is reason for us to resort to strong measures for its solution. Our idea is to induce Chiang Kai-shek to expedite a solution on his own initiative, leaving it to him and other healthy elements to settle the present affair thus preventing Chiang and the foreign powers from being entrapped in this Communist intrigue. It is very necessary for us to avoid such steps as would result in rendering the downfall of Chiang Kai-shek and his [Page 172] associates more easy. For these reasons please discuss the matter with the British and American Ministers and endeavor to eliminate the phrase specifying a time limit for compliance, failing which the powers reserve to themselves etc., etc.

In the opinion of the Japanese Government it would be better to formulate terms without a time limit and see what attitude and what measures are taken by the Southerners; and to consider the question whether we should resort to strong action or not. For Japan, which has two thousand residents up river and six consulates or branch offices, it requires considerable time for preparation for their protection or evacuation.”

2. We are to discuss the matter further tomorrow (April 1st).