The American Embassy in Japan to the Japanese Ministry for Foreign Affairs


The American Ambassador on August 23 brought orally to the attention of the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs the desire of the diplomatic representatives at Nanking of the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy that Japanese bombing operations be excluded from an area in that city wherein they and some of their nationals reside and where foreign shipping is anchored. The American Government feels, however, that other aspects of the matter demand equal consideration. The extensive bombing of that city on the night of August 26 placed in danger the lives and property of noncombatants, both foreign and Chinese, and it has seemed to the American Government that the appropriate Japanese authorities, when this fact is brought to their attention, may desire to limit future action in accordance with the restraints which considerations of humanity and of international comity usually impose on the bombing of the political capital of a country, especially when no state of war exists. Both before and after the earlier request for the protection of a defined area, there occurred bombing operations over the city which extensively damaged the buildings and killed and injured several of the employees of the National Central University and also resulted in the burning alive of numerous peaceful Chinese in one of the poorer quarters. These scenes of destruction have been visited by foreign diplomatic officers. The Government and people of the United States are in friendly relations with China as with Japan. Basing its appeal, therefore, on these friendly relations and on the principle of ordinary humanity, the American Government requests the discontinuance of activities which, despite their military objectives, result actually in the indiscriminate destruction of property used for educational and other non-military purposes and in the wounding and painful death of civilians.

The American Government is also greatly concerned over the fact that there are American citizens still scattered throughout China who will have to use the railways and motor roads as their only means of leaving for places of comparative safety. In view, therefore, of the widespread bombing operations now being carried out by the Japanese military throughout Chinese territory the American Government feels that it may properly make representations to the Japanese Government with a view to persuading it to refrain from attacks upon defenseless cities, hospitals, trains and motor cars, et cetera. There is grave risk that sooner or later some incident will take place resulting in the death or injury to American citizens who [Page 495]are going about their legitimate occupations within the interior of China where such dangers should not exist. Japan declares that it is not at war with China and yet its planes are conducting raids far in the interior, dropping deadly missiles with consequent serious damage to the rights of other nations.

The attention of the Japanese Government is invited to the situation described in the foregoing paragraphs in the hope that appropriate instructions may be issued to its military forces in the field.