The American Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Hirota)

No. 796

Excellency: I have the honor, by direction of my Government, to address to Your Excellency the following note:

“Since the beginning of the present fighting in China the American Government has received reports of attacks by Japanese armed forces in China upon American nationals and their property, including attacks upon American humanitarian and philanthropic establishments and upon the persons and property of non-combatants generally.

The American Government desires in particular to bring to the attention of the Japanese Government a recent attack on September 12 [Page 499]by Japanese planes on an American missionary hospital in South China, located at Waichow, Kwangtung Province. Information in the possession of the American Government indicates that three Japanese planes flew low three times over the mission compound where two large American flags were flying; that each time the planes dropped bombs all of which exploded seriously injuring personnel of the hospital as well as damaging the hospital and the residence, that there were no anti-aircraft guns at Waichow, and that the mission itself is two miles distant from any Chinese military encampment.

Attack upon non-combatants is prohibited both by long accepted principles and by established rules of international law. Also, attack upon humanitarian establishments, especially those which are lawfully under the flags of countries in no way party to military operations, have no warrant in any system of law or of humane conduct. The American Government, therefore, is impelled, in fulfillment of its obligations toward its nationals and on behalf of those fundamental principles of law and of morality which relate to the immunity of non-combatants and humanitarian establishments, emphatically to voice objection to such attacks and to urge upon the Japanese Government, which the American Government cannot believe approves of such disregard of principles, that effective steps be taken toward averting any further such attacks.”

I avail myself [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew