393.115/683: Telegram

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


183. On July 5, and at his own request, the Counselor of the Japanese Embassy (Suma) called at the Department. He stated that a telegraphic report of Hirasawa’s investigation had been received by the Embassy from the Japanese Foreign Office. The report, he said, made mention of four general points, as follows:

Before any particular area was bombed, the location of foreign properties was investigated by the Japanese aviation authorities.
The scope and direction of the proposed attack was decided by them in the light of their investigation.
An endeavor was made to avoid American and other foreign properties even when this avoidance caused inconvenience to the Japanese.
When Japanese aviators saw that American and other foreign properties would be in jeopardy by their bombings, the Japanese aviators ceased bombing operations notwithstanding that Chinese military objectives might be nearer such properties.

Mr. Suma added that the conclusions drawn by Hirasawa was that it was impossible for anything further to be done by the Japanese air force toward making effective their desire to avoid the bombing of American and other foreign properties; it was Hirasawa’s recommendation that there be an isolation distance of one kilometer for American properties from Chinese and Chinese military objectives.

Mr. Suma was informed in reply that reports had been received from Shanghai and Hankow by the Department relative to Hirasawa’s investigation; that of the American properties scattered all through China, a substantial number were institutions of learning which Chinese students naturally attended; that on many occasions the Government of the United States had pointed out to the Government of Japan that we had no control over the question of proximity of military objectives to American properties; that in our opinion the important fact was whether the bombing of American properties would continue or whether it would not.

An informal memorandum was then handed to the Counselor in which was described the bombings of certain Protestant and Roman Catholic mission properties on June 23, 24 and 25, and the bombing of the Union High School, Foochow, on June 29.

Telegram repeated to Chungking.