The Secretary of State to the President of the Radio Corporation of America (Harbord)

Sir: Referring to previous correspondence regarding proposed methods for reaching an understanding between American, Japanese and Chinese interests concerned with the development of radio facilities in China, and with particular reference to discussions arising out of the terms of the Mitsui contract and the contract of the Federal Telegraph Company, I desire to inform you that the Japanese Ambassador called upon me on the morning of April 4, 1928, to discuss the subject.

The Ambassador said that he had been instructed by his Government to consult me formally with regard to what he designated as a memorandum agreement entered into between Mr. MacMurray and Mr. Debuchi in November of last year.44 A copy of this memorandum was enclosed in the Department’s letter to you dated December 10, 1927.45 The Ambassador recalled the fact that he had recently discussed the matter with Mr. Nelson T. Johnson, Assistant Secretary of State, during my absence, and that Mr. Johnson had informed him that advices received from the Radio Corporation seemed to indicate that the Corporation was not prepared to accept Mr. Debuchi’s memorandum as a basis for discussion. The reference was to Colonel Davis’ letter of March 15 to Mr. Johnson, especially to the last paragraph.46

The Ambassador informed me that the Japanese Government approved of Mr. Debuchi’s memorandum as a basis for negotiation rather than the proposition contained in the proposal for a conference which the Department transmitted to the Japanese Government on behalf of the Corporation on October 28, 1926.47 He admitted that his Government had not replied specifically to this proposal and said that it was his understanding that Mr. Debuchi’s memorandum was in fact the Japanese Government’s reply to that proposal. I asked the Ambassador whether this meant that the Japanese Government refused to accept the proposal made on October 28, 1926, and he [Page 565] replied that it did. I asked him whether I was to understand that his Government had decided that the only basis upon which it could enter into any conference with the Radio Corporation was that outlined in Mr. Debuchi’s memorandum. He replied that this was the case. I then said that I would inform the Radio Corporation of these facts and obtain from it a definite statement of its attitude toward Mr. Debuchi’s proposal. The Ambassador intimated that he desired such a statement.

The Ambassador explained to me that the Japanese Government is under great pressure to find a way out of the embarrassing situation caused by the fact that the Japanese have a station at Peking which is not operating but is costing a great deal of money. He said that it was essential to devise some means of placing this station on an operating basis and, unless the question at issue could be settled in cooperation with the American interests, the Japanese must perforce take separate action with the Chinese. He added that he had been instructed to assure me that in doing so the Japanese Government would not insist upon the maintenance of any monopoly so far as that Government was concerned. I expressed my pleasure at hearing this.

In conclusion, I summarized my understanding of the situation, namely, that the Japanese Government did not assent to the proposal for a conference as set forth in my communication of October 28, 1926, to the Japanese Government, and that the Japanese Government could take part in a conference only on the basis of Mr. Debuchi’s memorandum. I said that I would inquire of you whether you assented to the proposal made in that memorandum, or whether you had any other suggestions. The Ambassador expressed himself as satisfied with this.

I am aware that in various conversations and letters the Radio Corporation has already indicated to the Department its attitude toward the various proposals for an adjustment of difficulties rising out of the Mitsui and Federal wireless contracts. Nevertheless, in view of the fact that the Japanese Ambassador has now formally communicated to me the intention of his Government, in case it must conclude that no agreement can be reached with the American interests concerned, to proceed in reference to the Mitsui contract without further consultation with us, I would be glad to receive from you, for transmission to the Ambassador, a formal reply to the question propounded by him in our interview.

I am [etc.]

Frank B. Kellogg
  1. The memorandum referred to is apparently Mr. Debuchi’s memorandum which was handed to Mr. MacMurray on Nov. 29, 1927. See telegram No. 130, Nov. 29, 1927, from the Ambassador in Japan, Foreign Relations, 1927, vol. ii, p. 478; see also memorandum of December 19, by the Assistant Secretary of State, ibid., p. 480.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For the last paragraph, see footnote 42, p. 562.
  4. Memorandum to the Japanese Ambassador, Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. i, p. 1082.