Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)

In the course of conversation this morning the Secretary informed the Japanese Ambassador that Mr. Owen Young of the Radio Corporation had been to see him and was very anxious that the Japanese and the Chinese Governments approve of a suggestion which Mr. Owen Young had made directly to the Mitsui Company in Japan and to the Director of Chinese Telegraph Administration that representatives of those two interested parties now in Washington attending the Radio Conference, and entirely aside from the Conference itself and without any connection therewith, get together with a representative of the Radio Corporation of America for the purpose of discussing some workable plan whereby their interests could be permitted to go forward in China. The Secretary asked Mr. Johnson to take the Ambassador to his office and discuss the matter.

Mr. Johnson stated to the Ambassador that he understood that Mr. MacMurray had expressed to the Ambassador the wishes of Mr. Owen Young and the Ambassador stated that he had been shown the telegrams that Mr. Young had sent to Doctor Dan41 and Mr. Tsiang. The Ambassador stated that he felt that the time was probably good for some settlement of this question. He said that Doctor Dan in discussing the matter with the Japanese Government had suggested that the Japanese Government and the American Government should get together on questions of principle before any discussion should take place and the Ambassador stated that it was his opinion that there was very little difference existing between the viewpoint of the Japanese Government and the viewpoint of the American Government; that the [Page 477] Japanese Government felt that there must be no control of wireless in China by a foreign government, except, of course, the sort of supervision that could be given by Japanese or American auditors and Japanese or American radio engineers.

I stated to the Ambassador that I believed that there ought not to be any difficulty in the two governments getting together on a proposition as our only desire was to obtain unstraddled and direct communication between the United States and China and the absence of any monopolistic rights. The Japanese Ambassador stated that the Japanese Government was equally interested in direct communication between Japan and China and they also, as was well-known to this Government, were prepared to support the idea that there should be no monopoly of rights.

I stated to the Ambassador that it seemed to me that it ought to be possible for the governments to allow the private corporations who were going to be concerned with the operation of radio between China and Japan and the United States to get together as private individuals for the purpose of finding some plan of operation and of agreeing among themselves on how they could carry out their proposals; that the American Government itself was not interested in operating radio between the United States and China, that it was only interested in seeing radio communication established and in supporting the right of private American interests to establish such communication unhampered by monopoly.

I said that it seemed to me that when these private interests had agreed on a plan then it would be time for the Japanese, Chinese and American Governments to consider whether they would or would not approve of the plan agreed upon.

The Japanese Ambassador stated that he felt that it ought to be possible to do something about the matter. He said that he had telegraphed to his Government to ask whether they still would insist upon their proposal that the meeting take place in Peking. He said he felt that this was a minor question, that the chief proposition was whether or not they could settle the points at issue. He referred to a proposal which had been made by the Chinese to the Japanese and to ourselves and wondered whether this proposal could be used as a basis for discussion. I said to the Ambassador that it was my impression that the Radio Corporation was prepared to discuss any proposal and of course might have proposals of their own to offer but the great point was permitting them to begin the discussion.

The Ambassador said he hoped that something could be done and that as soon as he received a reply from his Government, he would communicate further with us.

N. T. Johnson
  1. Takuma Dan, director of the Mitsui Co.