793.94/10311: Telegram

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

431. Our 403, September 22, 6 p.m.10a Bombing of Nanking. The following reply to our note of September 22 has today been received from the Foreign Office:

“No. 121, September 29, 1937.

“Excellency: I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that I have duly noted the contents of Your Excellency’s note number 780 of September 22 regarding the bombing of Nanking by Japanese forces.

As Your Excellency’s Government is well aware, Nanking is exceptionally strongly fortified and it is the most important strategic base of military operations for the Chinese forces. The bombing of the military facilities and equipment located in and around the said city is a necessary and unavoidable measure for the attainment of the military objectives of the Japanese forces. It goes without saying that bombing operations by Japanese forces will be strictly confined to such scope and will not be aimed at noncombatants, as evidenced by the fact that warning was given even to Chinese noncombatants.

The frequently stated policy of the Imperial Japanese Government to respect as far as possible the rights and interests of third countries and the safety of the lives and property of the nationals thereof remains unaltered in the present bombing operations. The recent proposal of the Imperial Japanese Government that the officials, citizens, and vessels of Your Excellency’s country take refuge was the result of the desire to avoid if possible the occurrence of injury to nationals of third countries, which might be unavoidable notwithstanding the greatest precautions which may be taken by the Japanese forces.

It is hoped that Your Excellency’s Government will understand that the Imperial Japanese Government has desired the safety of the nationals of third countries in spite of the fact that the Japanese forces are restricted in their strategic movements by reason of the giving of advance warnings, and it is earnestly hoped that Your Excellency’s Government, with full appreciation of the circumstances, will cooperate with the measures taken by the Imperial Japanese Government. Furthermore, the view of the Imperial Japanese Government with regard to damages sustained by nationals of third countries as a result of the present hostilities in China remains as stated in my note number 102, Asia 1, under date of August 31.

I avail myself, et cetera, signed Koki Hirota.”

Repeated to Shanghai.

  1. Not printed.