Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Hamilton) of a Conversation With the Counselor of the Japanese Embassy (Suma)

Mr. Suma called at his own request on another matter and, referring to the notice issued by the Japanese admiral at Shanghai of the project to bomb Nanking, said that he was sorry that the notice had caused so much misunderstanding. He said that in his opinion the notice should have contained a more adequate explanation of the Japanese admiral’s motive in issuing the notice and that the Japanese naval and military authorities had no intention of bombing other than military objectives. 1 said that we had received a number of assurances from the Japanese Government to that effect but the fact remained that the Japanese bombing operations were, according to our reports and reports contained in the press, resulting in the killing of large numbers of non-combatants. I referred to the recent Japanese bombing operations at Canton where, according to the reports, some 2,000 non-combatants had been killed. I said that I had noticed a statement in some newspaper to the effect that the Japanese military were very much surprised that reports were being sent from China to the effect that Japanese military operations were resulting in the death of non-combatants. I said that this killing of non-combatants at Canton, at Hankow, at Nanking and at various other places in China could not but create the most deplorable impression in this country and in other countries. Mr. Suma said that there were of course a number of Chinese military fortifications [Page 506]and organizations in Nanking. I inquired whether most of such Chinese military organizations and activities were not located outside the city wall. Mr. Suma said that most of them were but that in addition there were a number of Chinese military organs inside the city. To this I commented that while there might be some Chinese military organs within the city of Naiiking, there were large areas in the city which were entirely non-military in character and yet the Japanese bombing operations were causing the death of noncombatants in those areas. I said again that this whole matter of bombing non-combatants was deplorable and was creating a most unfortunate impression.

M[axwell] M. H[amilton]