Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Grew)
While the Japanese Ambassador was calling on me today on another matter, the Secretary asked us to come into his room and he informed the Ambassador of the pertinent contents of the British note of April 5 concerning the proposed action in regard to the recent incident at Nanking. He then informed the Ambassador of the nature of our telegram No. 127 to Mr. MacMurray49 and also of what he, the Secretary, had said to Mr. Chilton in their conversation today, namely, that the Department dissents entirely from the statement that in agreeing to the omission of a time limit in the Formula B contained in the British note, His Majesty’s Government do so on the understanding that the other Powers accept in principle the application of sanctions in the event of the Nationalist Government refusing to give satisfaction to their demands. The Secretary had told Mr. Chilton and Mr. MacMurray that there was no implied agreement of any kind to this effect; in fact, the British Ambassador had given the Secretary a memorandum in which he stated that the British Government reserved its opinion on the subject of sanctions. The Secretary also had reserved on behalf of this Government all opinion as regards sanctions. Mr. MacMurray had therefore been instructed to make it perfectly clear that this Government is in no way obligated to apply sanctions and is not yet ready to confer with the other Governments on the question of sanctions. The Secretary then added that while it was, of course, impossible to foresee our action under future circumstances, we nevertheless at this moment had no intention whatever of applying or agreeing to apply any sanctions at all.
The Japanese Ambassador then told the Secretary that in a recent conversation between the British Ambassador and Baron Shidehara in Tokyo the former had pointed out the three kinds of sanctions which seemed possible: (1) blockade, (2) bombardment, and (3) occupation of certain areas. Baron Shidehara had replied that he [Page 184] did not think that any of these three sanctions would prove effective and that they would result in greater disadvantage to foreigners than to the Chinese themselves. Mr. Matsudaira therefore believed that his Government was entirely in accord with our view that no sanctions should be agreed to or applied at the present time.