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

No. 1230

Excellency: Acting under instructions, I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that my Government formally and emphatically protests the continued disregard by the Japanese military forces of American lives and property in China.

In this connection I am directed to invite the attention of the Japanese Government to the ever lengthening list of instances in [Page 644]which, as a result of air raids by the Japanese forces, American properties, although clearly marked and the location thereof previously reported with accompanying maps to the Japanese authorities, have been damaged and in some cases destroyed.

I am at this juncture constrained to refer to my note no. 880, dated February 21, 1938, to His Excellency Mr. Hirota,85 then Minister for Foreign Affairs, in which it was pointed out that under the circumstances which prevailed in the areas in China outside zones then occupied by Japanese forces there rested upon American officials and other American nationals in China no obligation to take the precautionary measures requested on behalf of the Japanese forces by His Excellency Mr. Hirota in his note no. 6, dated February 15, 1938.86 It was also pointed out, however, that toward safeguarding American lives and interests involved, precautionary measures had been advised and had voluntarily been taken in so far as possible, and that such measures would continue voluntarily to be taken. Despite the fact that such voluntary precautionary measures continued since that time and are continuing to be taken in respect of the property of American missions in China, there have occurred not less than 135 instances of aerial attacks by Japanese forces endangering American lives and resulting in damage to American property which have been brought by this Embassy to the attention of the Japanese Government. In virtually every such case the property had been clearly marked by American flags and other visible signs indicating American ownership, and wherever possible maps indicating the precise location of such property had been furnished to the Japanese authorities.

An outstanding example of the instances to which my Government refers is the recent bombing of the American Lutheran Mission at Tungpeh which resulted in death or grave injury to certain members of the Nyhus family. Twenty-eight of the attacks upon American property reported to the Japanese Government since the beginning of this year include three bombings on November 13, 14, and 18, 1938, of property of the Christian and Missionary Alliance at Taiping; bombing of the Peniel Missionary Home at Sai Nam, Kwangtung, in June 1938 and again on October 22, 1938; bombing on October 3 and 5, 1938, of property of the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company at Nanchang; bombing on December 24 and again five days later on December 29, 1938, of buildings of the Christian and Missionary Alliance at Kweilin, which resulted in the killing and wounding of members of the staff of the mission and refugees therein; the bombing on December 29, 1938, of the American Southern Baptist [Page 645]Mission hospital, also at Kweilin, and the bombing on December 29, 1938, of the American Southern Baptist Mission at Shiuchow. Further bombings occurred on January 10, 1939, which resulted in the demolition of and damage to buildings belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Mission at Shasi, Hupeh; on November 13 and November 23, 1938, and again on January 12, 1939, which resulted in the destruction of hospital and residence buildings belonging to the American Presbyterian Mission, North, at Hengyang, Hunan; on January 15, which resulted in serious damage to the property of the Suteh Girls’ School of the American Methodist Episcopal Mission at Chungking; on January 23, which resulted in damage to the American Church Mission at Ruling; on February 4, which resulted in damage to property belonging to the Werner G. Smith Company at Wanhsien; on February 22, which resulted in damage to the hospital of the Covenant Missionary Society at Kingrhen; on February 25, which resulted in damage to the American Catholic Mission at Loting, and the serious wounding of Father Kennelly; on March 8, which resulted in damage to two compounds of the American Church Mission at Ichang, bombed in separate raids; and again on March 14, which resulted in damage to the St. James School property of the same mission at Ichang; on March 17, when the American Southern Baptist hospital at Chengchow was bombed twice, causing six casualties; again on March 19, when this same property was bombed for the seventh time since February 1938; on March 20, resulting in serious damage to property of the Covenant Missionary Society at Siangyang, Hupeh, and to the Santeh Bible School premises of the Lutheran United Mission at Fancheng, Hupeh.

Accordingly, I have the honor urgently to ask that Your Excellency take steps to the end that the Japanese Government promptly issue to its appropriate authorities in China such instructions as may be required to prevent any future recurrence of the bombing of American properties. These bombings have, as indicated above, resulted in death and injury to American citizens and in extensive material loss and, if continued, could not fail to have further such deplorable effects. The Government and people of the United States are becoming increasingly perturbed over these acts on the part of the Japanese military forces, and the weight which they can attach to assurances of the Japanese Government in this respect is necessarily determined by the extent to which Japanese forces in the field respect or fail to respect those assurances.

I avail myself [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Ante, p. 586.
  2. Ante, p. 583.