The Chargé in Japan (Neville) to the Secretary of State

No. 1386

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 1366, of December 16, 1929, in regard to visits of our men-of-war to the islands of the Pacific under mandate to Japan. I have now the honor to report that since my despatch under reference I have had a further interview with the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs on this subject.

The Vice-Minister told me that the Overseas Department had finally come to the conclusion to abide by whatever decisions the Navy Department made in this matter. The navy, he said, had informed the Department of Foreign Affairs that they would raise no objection whatever to visits by our men-of-war to those of the islands where Japanese officials are resident. He said that the navy would be glad if we would not ask to visit those islands where there are no Japanese officials because such visits are disturbing. I then asked him how we could know beforehand what these islands were. He suggested that whenever our men-of-war intended to visit any of the islands we inform the Japanese Government beforehand and that the Navy Department would then indicate what islands were open. It seems that there are part-time officials or officials who visit the smaller islands periodically and remain there for a few weeks or months at a time to clear up any administrative or judicial problems that may have arisen since the islands were last visited. I told him that I should report this change of attitude to my Government.

So far as hydrographic information is concerned, the Vice-Minister told me that the Navy Department was preparing charts and tables giving complete information of this kind.

This is a distinct advance upon the somewhat intransigent attitude displayed when the subject was first approached. I do not know whether it meets our views completely, but it is, I think, about as much as can be obtained at the present time. Aside from the fact that the Japanese would not welcome visits of foreigners to islands where there are no Japanese officials because the natives of the islands would get unduly excited and make the officials’ next visit somewhat troublesome, the Japanese also have a feeling that it would be decidedly impolite on their part not to be able to welcome officially a foreign man-of-war [Page 262]visiting any region where Japanese are supposed to administer the Government.39

I have [etc.]

Edwin L. Neville
  1. The procedure suggested respecting open or unopened ports in the Japanese mandated islands was subsequently followed.