793.94/15208: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

438. Reference my despatch No. 212, May 22.97 With reference to Tokyo’s 320, July 10, 4 p.m., Department may consider it appropriate to communicate the following to Tokyo for possible informal communication to Foreign Minister Arita in connection with his statement that attack from the air upon Chungking “was an important and effective phase of the military.” I may, I think, with all modesty, consider that my views on the subject are not without value as I have personally witnessed from the ground and in a sense from the point of view of one under attack from the air, some 66 raids by Japanese planes made in the night as well as in the day. I have learned to distinguish between a raid made upon a military objective and one that is made merely for the purpose of terrifying and killing unarmed and innocent civilian population. I feel that I can say that Chungking is unarmed in any sense that might be construed as offensive. To say that anti-aircraft weapons comprise military establishments and therefore offensive weapons is like saying that when I raise my hands to a defenseless [sic] position to meet the threat of an attacker I thereby justify the attacker on the ground that he subsequently does what he does to me in self-defense. I witnessed the two raids mentioned in this telegram. I have inspected the damage done to the city during the previous raids when incendiary bombs were used. I feel that I can say without fear of contradiction that in all of these raids the bombing was indiscriminately carried out with the deliberate intention of terrorizing the unarmed population of the city of Chungking and without regard to immediate objectives; that no objects of military character were hit or damaged; that while thousands of innocent men, women and children were killed in the fires started by incendiary bombs dropped among the wooden houses which characterize the housing of Chungking, no armed or military forces were injured or hurt. I feel that I can say without fear of contradiction that the only effect of this type of bombing has been to blast deeper the spiritual chasm that has been growing during the past two years between the Chinese and the Japanese peoples, a chasm that will keep these peoples sadly apart for years to come, postponing the establishment of that peace [Page 662]which the Japanese have so often said was the object of their campaign on the Continent. The effect of these bombings of undefended cities far behind the lines has been to unify the people and to build up in them a spirit of resistance that was not there before.

Johnson
  1. Not printed.