793.94/10331: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)12

250. Your 435, September 30, 1 p.m.

The Department desires that you reply to the Foreign Office substantially as follows:

In the light of the assurances repeatedly given by the Japanese Government that the objectives of Japanese military operations are limited to Chinese military agencies and establishments and that the Japanese Government has no intention of making non-military property and noncombatants the objects of attack, it is not perceived that there is need for the supplying of a list and the indicating of the locations of American properties, with the possible exception of properties located in the immediate vicinity of Chinese military agencies and establishments.

Although it has been our procedure, for the purpose of safeguarding and serving the American interests involved, to inform both the Japanese and the Chinese authorities of the location of American institutions endangered by their proximity to places in the range of military operations when and so far as practicable, Japanese bombing operations have now been extended to a vast area and have been directed against objectives where it is often not apparent that any military purpose is to be served thereby. Consequently no reliable indication is afforded as to what places are likely to come next within the range of Japanese military operations. Furthermore, American institutions generally, so far as this Government has been informed, have been adopting the practice of plainly displaying on their buildings clear nationality marking, and the location of such buildings is usually described in published directories, maps, et cetera, which are doubtless available to the Japanese military authorities. It would thus appear to the American Government that the Japanese military authorities are in better position than are the American authorities to determine what American institutions will be endangered by virtue of their proximity to Japanese military objectives, and to take adequate precautions accordingly.

In the event that Japanese authorities request information to supplement that which is already available in regard to a particular point where American property may be located near to a Chinese military [Page 510]establishment which the Japanese authorities contemplate attacking, the American authorities would be prepared as heretofore to give such information as may be practicable in regard to the location of American property and institutions. However, in giving any such information, the American Government does so only for the purpose of protecting American life and property; it reserves entirely its declared attitude and position in regard to the hostilities in which Japanese and Chinese armed forces are engaged; and its reservation of rights in regard to destruction of American life or property which may arise therefrom will in no way be altered by the fact of its having given or not having given such information.

A supplementary instruction follows.
  1. Repeated by the Department to the Embassy in China as telegram No. 299, October 5, 1937, 8 p.m.