The Japanese Embassy to the Department of State29

The Japanese Government have watched with deep and sympathetic interest the progress of the Nationalist movement in China and, together with the other Governments concerned, have always shown their willingness to make their best possible efforts to facilitate the realization by China of her legitimate national aspirations. At the same time, they are convinced that if this movement were to be crowned with success and if international complications were to be avoided, it is imperative that counsel of reason and moderation should prevail.

2. Unfortunately, last spring a disquieting situation arose in Shantung and the safety of the Japanese subjects there was endangered. It was feared that a similar situation might also arise in Manchuria. Consequently the Japanese Government were forced to despatch troops to Shantung for the protection of the lives and property of the Japanese subjects there and to adopt such precautionary measures as have been taken in regard to Manchuria.

In sending these forces to Shantung and subsequently in giving to both the contending factions the warning of May 18th last,29a the Japanese Government had no intention whatever of interfering in the domestic affairs of China. Only the exigencies of the situation called for the adoption of such a measure. As declared by the Japanese Government on the occasion of the despatch of these troops, they are to be withdrawn entirely immediately there ceases to be any menace to the lives and property of the Japanese people in that region. In fact a part of these troops has already been withdrawn and the rest will be recalled in due course with the stabilization of the situation there. Sometime ago, the Japanese Government approached the Nationalist Government with suggestions for the settlement of the Tsinan incident. They regret that the Nationalist Government have not shown their readiness yet to enter upon negotiations on this subject, but the Japanese Government are confident that a satisfactory adjustment of this question will be eventually reached.

3. As for Manchuria, it need hardly be said that it is the part of China in which Japan is most keenly and vitally interested. Both from the standpoint of her national defence and that of her economic and political welfare, Japan regards it as a matter of imperative need that peace and order be fully maintained there. Once Czarist Russia occupied that region to the great menace of Japan. For the [Page 426] purpose of self defence, Japan took up arms against Russia and liberated it from her yoke at the cost of tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of money. Since then Japan has spared no efforts in achieving the economic development of that region within her rights legitimately acquired. As the result of her ceaseless labor in this direction for the past twenty years, there are now in Manchuria 200,000 Japanese and 1,000,000 Koreans, while her investments amount to nearly 2,000,000,000 Yen. Dairen, which was only a small town immediately after the Russo-Japanese War, has now a population of 300,000, and it is patent that in point of volume of trade, it ranks next to Shanghai. In the meantime the number of Chinese people migrating to that region have increased year after year. Within a single year of 1927, it reached the figure of 1,000,000. Naturally, the Japanese people are most sensitive in regard to Manchuria. The preservation of peace and order in that region is a matter of paramount importance and absolute necessity for Japan. She is constrained to oppose at any cost the introduction of any political influence or system subversive of order and peace in Manchuria. Emphasis should be placed in this connection on the fact that Japan has no territorial ambitions in Manchuria, nor will she attempt to establish a protectorate there. Japan’s desire is to see Manchuria remain under Chinese sovereignty a region where in conformity with the principles of the open door and equal opportunity, both Chinese and foreigners may prosecute their lawful pursuits in full enjoyment of the blessings of peace.

Accordingly, it is a matter of no material importance to Japan who rules Manchuria so long as the conditions above set forth prevail. The Japanese Government would not look with disfavor upon a possible conciliation of Mukden authority and the Nanking Government if they would neither put in practice communistic principles in Manchuria nor commit such a breach of international good faith as the Nanking Government did on the subject of the Treaty of Commerce with Japan.30

4. The Treaty of Commerce constitutes the backbone of mutual friendship between Japan and China. Its revision is a matter of the greatest importance. In fact the Japanese Government have made a most careful study of the whole subject by taking into consideration both the national aims of China and the economic position of Japan in that country and have agreed most willingly to the demand of China for the revision of the Treaty. Many difficulties arose in the course of negotiations due principally to the unsettled political condition of China, but Japan has consistently done her utmost to expedite the negotiations with a view to reaching a satisfactory settlement. In entire disregard, however, of these circumstances, [Page 427] and in defiance of explicit provision of the Treaty, the Nationalist Government sent to Japan sometime ago the abrupt notice that the Commercial Treaty between China and Japan would be abrogated and that, pending conclusion of a new treaty, the Japanese nationals and commerce in China would be governed by provisional regulations unilaterally adopted by China.

Independent of the question of the sanctity of treaties, Japan is deeply concerned that if this kind of procedure is once concurred in, it may lead to the subversion of all the rights and interests legitimately secured by Japan under treaties or agreements. Nevertheless the Japanese Government have been and are ready to enter upon negotiations for treaty revision as soon as the policy of the Nationalist Government makes it possible for them to do so. It is sincerely hoped that ways and means may be found by which the treaty question may be settled to the mutual satisfaction of both countries. Further, the Japanese Government are willing to cooperate with the other Governments concerned in the completion of tasks started at the time of the Tariff Conference at Peking and by the Commission of Extraterritoriality if only the demands of China are fair and reasonable.

5. It is believed that the attitude of the Japanese Government towards China as above enunciated is not incompatible with the policy of the United States Government now being pursued in that country. Hopeful as it is, the present situation in China is still pregnant with difficulties of various nature and the best way for the Powers to follow in dealing with such a situation is to act in the spirit of cooperation. In this conviction it is most sincerely desired that, guided always by this spirit the countries having deep interest in China, particularly those signatory to the Washington Treaty of 1922 would exchange their views frankly from time to time in regard to questions affecting their common interests and act in conjunction as far as possible with a view to each making its contribution to the stabilization of the political situation and the durable establishment of peace in China.

  1. This paper bears the notation: “Handed to Secretary by Count Uchida 9/29/28.”
  2. See telegram No. 63, May 17, 1928, from the Ambassador in Japan, p. 224.
  3. Treaty of July 21, 1896.