Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)

Count Uchida31 called upon the Secretary by appointment at 10 a.m., accompanied by Mr. Sawada, the Japanese Chargé. Mr. Johnson was present during the interview.

[Page 428]

Count Uchida read the attached memorandum32 to the Secretary. When he had completed the Secretary made comment on it as follows:

With reference to troops and naval vessels in China, the Secretary stated that as he remembered it when the Japanese sent their forces into Tsinan a year ago and then again during the past summer the Japanese Government had explained to us and had stated publicly that this despatch of troops was for the purpose of protecting Japanese lives and property in that area. The Secretary stated that he had considered that these statements had been made by the Japanese Government in good faith and that he had so informed the Chinese Minister on more than one occasion. He added that he felt that this policy was similar to that which we had followed in sending our marines to China. We had stated at the time that they were there for the purpose of protecting American citizens and for no other purpose. He stated that we were now at this time in process of withdrawing a portion of our marines from China, inasmuch as conditions were quieting there and that we hoped that conditions soon would justify the complete withdrawal of our marines, but that naturally we could not withdraw them all until their presence was no longer necessary for the protection of our citizens.

As regards the question of treaty revision, the Secretary stated that there were two things to be considered. He reminded Count Uchida that during the winter of 1926–27 there was pending in the House of Representatives a resolution, which subsequently passed the House and would have passed the Senate if it had gone on there, which called upon the American Government to commence at once the work of revising treaty relations between the United States and China.33 The Secretary stated that in January, 1927, he had made a statement in which he said that whenever a government appeared in China capable of representing the Chinese, or whenever delegates fairly representative of China capable of binding all alike appeared, we would be prepared to enter into negotiations with regard to the tariffs. The Secretary pointed out that at that time China was divided into a northern and a southern faction and that it did not appear possible for these factions to get together on any kind of a delegation, so that it was impossible to have discussions or negotiations, but that later on when the nationalist faction established its regime in China and fighting ceased and the other faction had been driven off the field it appeared that China had a government capable of speaking for the whole country. He pointed out that when this happened, as [Page 429] doubtless, was known to the Japanese Government, the Nationalist authorities served notice upon us that they were ready to proceed under the statement which the Secretary had made and naturally he felt bound to carry out his promises. We had settled the Nanking incident and the way was clear for discussions, and inasmuch as during the past winter, or nearly a year ago, when Mr. MacMurray was home on leave we had decided upon what we were prepared to do with regard to tariffs, when the time came we were ready to go ahead and matters moved very swiftly as the signing of the treaty34 followed almost on the heels of our notice to the interested Powers of what we were ready to do.

The Secretary stated that he was not informed clearly as to just what the phraseology of the Japanese treaty with China provided, but that he believed there was a difference in wording between the two treaties. He read to Count Uchida the article providing for revision which appears in the American treaty of 190335 and pointed out that under this wording if either one of the contracting parties asked for a revision at the end of the ten-year period a revision would have to take place or the treaty would cease to be valid. Of course this question was not up at the present time, as the American treaty would not come up for attention until 1934, but that we had determined that we would not wait until that time before taking up the matter. The only question that confronted us now was the question of what to do. The Secretary understood that the Chinese had not enacted any codes of laws such as those called for by the report of the Commission on Extraterritoriality.36 Until they did so it would be very difficult to do anything about extraterritoriality. The whole matter was being studied and if we could find some formula which would be acceptable we were prepared to take up the matter with the Chinese. The Secretary stated that he was very anxious to know what attitude the Japanese Government might take on this question of extraterritoriality. In fact, he would probably ask all the Governments concerned their attitude in this matter. Count Uchida stated that he had no instructions other than those which were given him when he left which were along the lines of the attached memorandum; that of course as regards Japan they were in this position: the Chinese Government had put obstacles in the way of the settlement of the Tsinan incident and had also taken a very recalcitrant position with regard to the treaty and that until these obstacles had been cleared away Japan could do nothing. The Japanese Chargé stated [Page 430] here that he wondered whether the last paragraph of the memorandum handed to the Secretary by Count Uchida was acceptable to the United States, pointing to the last sentence which reads:

“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.”

The Secretary stated that we believed in cooperating with the Powers in this matter, that it was his feeling that one of the greatest dangers that confronted the Powers out in China at this time was the danger of communist activities inspired from Russia, that the present Nationalist Government appeared to be making every effort to build up a stable and ordered government in China and that it was his feeling and the feeling of the United States that all the Powers should cooperate to strengthen the efforts of the present government of China in so far as it was possible to the end that a stable government might be built up there. It was our feeling that this might be done by going as far as each country could go, considering its own interests, towards solving these questions of the treaties, and that it was our desire to cooperate with the other Powers to that end. He repeated once more that he hoped to ascertain what the views of the Japanese Government would be on this subject of treaty revision and that he expected, perhaps, to make inquiry of the Powers regarding this subject.

The interview here ended.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]
  1. Count Yasuya Uchida, Special Japanese Ambassador to Paris to sign the treaty for the renunciation of war, who was visiting in the United States.
  2. Supra.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1927, vol. ii, p. 341.
  4. Treaty of July 25, 1928.
  5. Art. xvii, Foreign Relations, 1903, pp. 91, 99.
  6. Department of State, Report of the Commission on Extraterritoriality in China, Peking, September 16, 1926 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1926). See also Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. i, pp. 966 ff.