Memorandum by the Secretary of State
The Japanese Ambassador came in at my request. I then proceeded, without particular preliminaries, to read him the following:
“On two occasions between midnight and 2:00 a.m., July 6, two squadrons of Japanese planes raided Chungking. Bombs fell at random on both banks of the Yangtze River and in the city. One bomb fell within 400 feet of the residence of the Counselor of the American Embassy. Other bombs fell in the same general neighborhood, one landing about 300 yards from the residence of the American Ambassador. The Lewis Memorial Institutional Church at Chungking, an American institution, was badly damaged.
“Another raid was made by Japanese planes on Chungking on July 7 commencing about 12:40 a.m., and lasting until about 2:10 a.m. On this occasion bombs fell in various areas of the city and also on the south bank of the Yangtze, one bomb falling within 50 yards of the quarters of the Counselor of the American Embassy and causing about 30 Chinese civilian casualties.
“During these raids five bombs struck within 200 yards of the U. S. S. Tutuila.
“The bombing appears to have been carried out in an indiscriminate manner and the damage and loss of life inflicted to have been confined almost exclusively to civilians. The Government of the United States has repeatedly expressed this country’s abhorrence of such indiscriminate bombing. Added to this general humanitarian concern is the consideration that the bombings under discussion, which are but the most recent of a long list of similar bombings, have exposed to grave hazards the American Ambassador, his staff, an American naval vessel and American naval personnel thereon, and all other Americans at Chungking.
“The President in person has asked that the Secretary of State protest to the Japanese Ambassador against a continuation of these indiscriminate bombings. The President would like to have an immediate statement from the Japanese Government, without making the matter one of a formal exchange of notes.”
At the conclusion of the reading, I handed the Ambassador a copy of what I had read. He began to indicate his lack of belief in the facts, by saying that his Government had given special instructions to the military authorities in China to be careful to avoid injuries to persons and properties of other nations, etc., etc. I interrupted him and said that without taking up the question of what kind of instructions the military authorities were under from Tokyo, the official facts speak for themselves and show clearly that the Japanese military authorities are proceeding indiscriminately and recklessly with bombings in and about Chungking; that I was speaking from the facts, while the Ambassador was speaking from his understanding that instructions to be careful in bombing had been issued. He [Page 657]then abandoned this phase. I said that, of course, if this sort of reckless bombing went on something serious in the way of injuries to other nationals and their properties would inevitably occur, and, that in the interest of both his country and mine, my Government seeks to avoid such an unfortunate development. The Ambassador then said he would promptly transmit the written statement I had read to him to his Government.
He then referred to a conversation between Ambassador Grew and Foreign Minister Arita, before the Ambassador recently left Tokyo for America, in which Mr. Arita had brought up (1) the idea of our two countries exercising their influence toward avoiding war in Europe; (2) the reported apprehension of my Government that the Japanese occupation of the Hainan Islands is part of a plan of permanent military conquest; and (3) my Government’s concern about the extent of possible injury and loss of American interests, including American trade, in China, by reason of possible permanent Japanese policies of control. He said he would be interested in anything I might have to say on these points.
Point 3. I said that, taking the last point first, I need not remind him that for six years I had been earnestly pleading with and urging upon his Government the view that there is enough room on this planet for fifteen or eighteen great nations like his and mine, and that by cooperating along progressive and mutually desirable lines, great progress of the entire world population would gradually follow, etc., etc.
Point 2. I said that, on the other hand, while present American interests and rights in the Far East are highly important, the big consideration relates to the question whether all of China and the Pacific islands skirting it is to be Manchuria-ized by Japan, with international law destroyed and treaty observation abolished and all other nations not allowed into that one-half of the world—the door shut and locked by Japan except over preferences for her own citizens. I added that if some one nation is to do this in one-half of the world, some other nation in the other half of the world might undertake to follow the same example, and nothing would be more absurdly impossible for the future progress of the population of the world, including the countries assuming this species of domination, than such attempted course. I proceeded further to say that the Ambassador might suppose an announcement that this hemisphere and a part of Europe would be foreclosed against his country in the sense of being Manchuria-ized, and added that I need not speculate on what his country would think and how it would feel. I said that such efforts at domination, with no facilities for financing and progressive development, and the going forward on such a huge scale, could only result in disaster for all concerned, speaking, of course, from my viewpoint, [Page 658]and that this general idea had been urged by me on his statesmen for six years.
The Ambassador undertook to advance the idea that Japan was just interfering temporarily with other people’s interests on account of military exigencies. To this I replied that the fact that the rights and interests of other nationals all over China are being seriously interfered with, beyond all possible military requirements or even pretext, gives rise to the disappointment, not to say resentment, of the governments whose nationals are thus affected; that these excesses have occurred in north China and in South China and all up and down the Yangtze River; that Americans and other nationals are required to abandon their businesses, while the Japanese businessmen are permitted to step in and take their places and carry on business almost as usual—not temporarily, but apparently indefinitely. I added that these signs and circumstances indicating the Manchuria-izing of all China, or an attempt to do so at least, gives rise to the American apprehension, to which the Ambassador referred, that American trade and other interests might be permanently jeopardized or held in abeyance by Japan.
Point 1. As to the question raised with Ambassador Grew by Foreign Minister Arita about the possible cooperation of our two countries to compose the threatened dangers of Europe, I said that the single test of my Government in dealing with other Governments relates to the question of peace; that we consider the preservation of peace so supremely important to the future of all nations that we draw the line between honest, law-abiding, peaceful countries and peoples, without reference to their form of government, on the one hand, and those who are flouting law and order and officially threatening military conquest without limit as to time or extent; that we will work in a friendly spirit with every peaceful nation to promote and preserve peace, without serious thought as to who they are; that while we have not the slightest alliance, or secret or other understandings with any nation on earth, and do not propose to have any, we will keep thoroughly armed and prepared to take care of our interests and rights; that we have, in the spirit I was describing, made every kind and character of plea to the countries of Europe to indicate a willingness for the peaceful settlement and adjustment of their economic and other relations, and we have indicated our readiness to cooperate in every feasible plan to restore international trade and finance to a normal basis; that, notwithstanding these earnest pleas, (which the Japanese Government itself might well have been making, if it has not been doing so, or might well make now and persistently in the future,) nations perhaps could not but take notice that Japan herself is engaged in military operations for purposes of conquest, and that this situation might well call for an ending, if Japan were to exercise [Page 659]her fullest influence along with the United States and other countries in efforts to compose threatened military conquest in other parts of the world.
The Ambassador made no particular comment, except to state that there had been reports in this country to the effect that Japan might enter into a military pact with Germany and Italy, whereas the truth is that his country has no idea of doing so; that Japan, because of its proximity and difficulties with Russia, has been interested in the anti-Comintern policy of certain European states and in working with them against Bolshevism. I replied that, of course, this was primarily the business of his country; that my country, of course, strongly opposes the doctrines of Bolshevism, and he said he knew this; that it also, as I had indicated, abstains from any entanglements or involvements with European countries; that, of course, if Japan desires to tie herself up with the horribly complicated European controversies, so as to make herself immediately involved in any European war, that still was her business primarily; and I might again reiterate that my Government is keeping itself in a detached position, with peace as its supreme objective, and with armaments sufficient for all purposes of security.
The Ambassador again and finally indicated that he would present my written statement, regarding bombing of American nationals and property, to his Government. I again emphasized that, in my opinion, something serious would inevitably occur if this sort of reckless conduct should continue; that, of course, we were making complaint primarily from this viewpoint and in the end it should be highly to the interest of both Governments thus to deal with dangerous practices before something happens of a serious nature; that my Government, of course, desires to preserve relations of fair-play and fair-dealing and friendliness with all nations at all disposed to this end. I said that if I might so add, without in any way referring to the local differences between Japan and Great Britain in China, but only basing my remarks on an incident, I would suggest that stripping nationals of other countries of all clothing in public is something abhorrent to the average citizen everywhere; that while it accomplishes next to nothing for the Government engaging in such practice, it does arouse universal resentment and condemnation; that the point I was coming to and the only thing I had in mind in thus referring to this sort of practice was that if some of our American nationals in China should be thus stripped to the point of stark nakedness and exposed to the public view, there would doubtless arise a surprising amount of bitterness and denunciation; and that, therefore, I did hope the Government of Japan would see its way clear to refrain not only from all excesses in depriving our nationals of their rights and interests and businesses [Page 660]in China, but also from other such practices as may be calculated to create unfriendliness and hostility between our peoples. The Ambassador spoke approvingly of these views.