Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Johnson)

The Japanese Ambassador came to see me this afternoon and referred to the matter of the Federal Wireless contract and to the MacMurray-Debuchi conversations in Tokyo. He had seen me previously in regard to this matter at which time I had promised I would find out from the Radio Corporation their reaction in regard to the matter. I read to the Ambassador the last paragraph of the letter of Manton Davis of the Radio Corporation, dated March 15, 1928.42 The Ambassador said that this indicated to him that they were not prepared to accept the memorandum of Mr. Debuchi as a basis for discussion. I said that that seemed apparent, although the letter indicated that at the meeting which they had proposed something over a year ago they were prepared to discuss any proposal or any plan anyone might offer. The Ambassador stated that his Government felt that the two governments should limit the scope of discussions otherwise they could not get anything settled. He said that in view of this situation he felt that his Government would desire [Page 563] to break off any further discussion of this matter as they were under considerable pressure to settle the matter of their station at Shuangchiao now owned by the Mitsui Company. He pointed out that the Japanese, unlike the Americans, had this station which was an embarrassment on their hands until something was settled and as they could not make any settlement or negotiation with us, they decided to proceed separately. I asked the Ambassador whether the Japanese Government would make any formal reply to our formal communication to them of over a year ago.43 He seemed somewhat surprised that we should expect a reply. He said that perhaps his Government had felt that in view of the informal discussions which had been carried on between himself and Mr. MacMurray on his recent visit here and between Mr. Debuchi and Mr. MacMurray that a reply was not necessary, but that he realized that a reply would be a very proper thing and doubtless they would make one in due course.

He intimated that he regretted very much that the Japanese Government should not desire to negotiate further with us in this matter as they felt that more could be accomplished by cooperation than alone, but that naturally we must understand their position having a station which was not being used.

I said to the Ambassador that this Government did not desire to place any obstacles in the way of the successful accomplishment of any contract which the Japanese may desire to make with the Chinese in regard to wireless communication as long as Americans were free to make contracts on their part with the Chinese; that all we asked was that the right of American citizens to make a proper contract with the Chinese to construct radio stations for communication between the United States and China be protected and outside of this we were not interested; that naturally we recognized that the Japanese should have the same rights in China and we were not disposed to place any obstacles in their way as long as our rights were not jeopardized.

The Ambassador asked when the Secretary would return and I told him he probably would be back about the first of April. He said he thought he would try to see the Secretary and explain to him the situation as his Government would not like to proceed independently in this matter without an explanation.

N[elson] T. J[ohnson]
  1. The last paragraph of the letter reads:

    “General Harbord was of opinion that the proposal we made, namely, that the interested parties meet together and discuss any proposal that any one of them might bring forward, whether heretofore made or made at the meeting, was still unanswered. General Harbord had expected that a meeting would be held in New York prior to the meeting of the International Radio Telegraph Conference and then later that duly authorized persons might meet at that Conference but since all these proposals had been apparently rejected, the Radio Corporation itself had nothing new to suggest and he therefore saw no occasion to repeat statements often heretofore made.” (893.74/815.)

  2. Memorandum of Oct. 28, 1926, to the Japanese Ambassador, Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. i, p. 1082.