Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hornbeck)

The Japanese Chargé d’Affaires, Mr. Suma, called on the Secretary this afternoon on Mr. Suma’s own initiative. The Secretary suggested that Mr. Hornbeck be present, and, Mr. Suma having assented, Mr. Hornbeck was called in.

[Page 327]

Mr. Suma read, making some comments while reading, a memorandum, a copy of which is here attached.12

The Secretary then asked a number of questions and stated that, with impartial friendliness toward both sides, we are greatly interested in there being maintained peace. He asked the question: “How do you feel about the situation, do you feel hopeful?” Mr. Suma said: “I do not feel that there is very much hope,” and he elaborated somewhat on the subject of Chinese methods and practices of evasion.

The Secretary then asked whether Mr. Hornbeck would wish to ask any questions. Mr, Hornbeck said that he wanted to make sure that there would not be a misunderstanding: he referred to the Secretary’s question whether Mr. Suma felt hopeful and Mr. Suma’s reply that he did not, and said that he wondered whether Mr. Suma meant that he was not hopeful that major hostilities would be averted. —Mr. Suma said that that was not what he had meant but that he had meant that he was not hopeful that there would be a speedy settlement, he thought the situation would drag along because of Chinese evasions and failure to live up to promises. —Mr. Hornbeck then asked whether Mr. Suma could state who had signed the agreement of July 11 referred to in the memorandum which Mr. Suma had read. —Mr. Suma replied that it had been signed on the Chinese side by the commanding officer of the 29th Army and on the Japanese side by a local Japanese authority. —Mr. Hornbeck asked whether the 29th Army was a part of the Chinese National Army. —Mr. Suma replied that it was. —Mr. Hornbeck asked whether its commanding officer would take orders from the Nanking Government and carry them out. —Mr. Suma replied that the commanding officer would take orders from Nanking but that there were divided elements in the 29th Army. He said that a part of that Army had been a part of the army of General Feng Yu-hsiang. —Mr. Hornbeck then said that there are many conflicting accounts on the subject of dispatch of Japanese armed forces from Japan: could Mr. Suma give us the facts. —Mr. Suma said that he did not know of any armed forces having been sent from Japan but he thought some were being sent from Korea and Manchuria. —Mr. Hornbeck then said that he would like to ask what perhaps might be an indiscreet question: Could Mr. Suma make a statement for the Secretary’s benefit regarding just what it is that Japan is trying to do in north China, what is the Japanese objective? —Mr. Suma then talked at considerable length but with great vagueness of agreements which had been made for economic cooperation between Chinese and Japanese, of Chinese failure to live up to agreements, of the necessity for protecting Japanese nationals, etc. (Note: What Mr. Suma said was so little enlightening [Page 328] from point of view of specification and so completely enlightening from point of view of the general purport that Japan wished to establish Japanese influence more completely, that it is believed no useful purpose would be served in trying to set down the details.)

S[tanley] K. H[ornbeck]
  1. Infra.