793.94/8789: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State


205. On the afternoon of July 16 the Chief of the American Section of the Foreign Office (Yoshizawa) gave “personally and unofficially” to a member of the Embassy staff a lengthy account of the North China situation. A summary of this account follows:

Up to the present time the Hopei-Chahar authorities and the 29th Chinese Army have not disavowed the agreement signed by them on July 11 and given to the Japanese. To execute the terms of the July 11 agreement will take some time but the 29th Army has committed no overt act which would show conclusively that the agreement is not to be executed or is to be disowned.

The main cause for the Japanese Government’s decision of July 15 to send reinforcements to the North China area from Japan and in this way assure the safety of the Japanese troops in the vicinity of Peiping was the unremitting development of arrangements of the Nanking Government to mobilize and concentrate its troops in North China.

Two essentially separate and distinct questions have grown out of the incident at Marco Polo Bridge. These two questions are: (a) Settlement of the incident springing from antagonisms between the Japanese troops and the 29th Army and (b) the question whether the terms of the Ho-Umezu agreement of 1935 will be complied with by the Nanking Government. With regard to the latter question, no solution other than strict observance of the Ho-Umezu agreement on the part of the Nanking Government could be satisfactory to the Japanese. Concerning the other question, besides the circumstances mentioned above in the first paragraph of the summary of Yoshizawa’s remarks, the 29th Army is made up of diverse conflicting elements [Page 325] which can be divided roughly into two cliques. One clique favors coming to terms with Japan on the basis of the July 11 agreement and the other clique advocates resisting the Japanese. According to indications, the clique which favors coming to terms with Japan is in the ascendancy.

In case troops of the Nanking Government should cross the Ho-Umezu line, Yoshizawa is personally of the opinion that three developments are possible. These developments are: (a) the Japanese troops will proceed against the Nanking troops, the 29th Army continuing to observe strict neutrality, (b) the Japanese troops will proceed against the troops of the Nanking Government with the “friendly cooperation or possibly with the support” of the 29th Army, (c) the Japanese may find it necessary to deal with both the 29th Army and the Nanking troops. Yoshizawa was of the opinion that (a) would be the most probable of the three possible developments.

During the course of a conversation with the American Military Attaché on the afternoon of July 16, an officer in the War Office expressed the opinion that there is a “50–50” chance that a peaceful settlement of the whole affair will be reached. He also stressed the importance attachéd to faithful observance of the Ho-Umezu agreement although no serious view is being taken of minor violations which have occurred to date. The officer affirmed as did the Foreign Office on July 15 that the agreement of July 11 has no reference to economic or political questions.

The Military Attaché states in his report to the Ambassador that he believes from various indications that part (probably a brigade of two infantry regiments with some artillery, cavalry, and engineers attached) of the Sixth Division stationed in southern Kyushu sailed from Shimonoseki on the night of July 15; that a partial mobilization of some units, including the requisitioning of motor vehicles, is under way and that supplies of aviation gasoline are being accumulated. There are ample indications that Japan is preparing to use the force necessary to compel execution of the agreement of July 11 if that agreement is not carried out voluntarily.

Repeated to Peiping.