393.1163 Lutheran Brethren/101
The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Arita) to the American Chargé in Japan (Dooman)
Sir: I have carefully perused your notes, no. 1272, May 22, 1939, no. 1273, May 22, 1939, and no. 1274, May 22, 1939,98 in which it was stated that property belonging to the Lutheran Brethren Mission at Tangho, Honan Province, was bombed by Japanese military planes on May 4, 1939; further that the property of the Lutheran Brethren Mission at Tungpeh, Honan, the same property at which the incident resulting in death and injury to members of the Nyhus family on October 24, 1938, occurred, was again bombed on May 2, 1939, by Japanese airplanes. You stated that both properties were marked; [Page 663]and that particularly in the latter case it was entirely improbable that the Japanese military authorities could be ignorant of the existence of the above property. At that time, you stated, there was an American flag flying from a pole on the property and also there was an American flag painted on the roof. In view of these facts, you stated that this bombing of the same property must be viewed as especially flagrant. You protest to the Japanese Government concerning these incidents, and request that measures be taken to prevent any future occurrences of a similar nature.
The actual facts, however, according to the investigations of the Japanese forces which have recently entered Tangho and Tungpeh, are as set forth in the addendum herewith attached.
As I have already frequently explained to you, the Japanese air forces have paid from the beginning, and are paying, the strictest attention to the protection of the rights and interests of third countries in China. Nevertheless, in time of war accidental injury may be done to such rights and interests. The Imperial Government sincerely regrets such instances, but it has been learned that these injuries are very often caused, as in the cases at Tangho and Tungpeh, by the fact that the property of American nationals has given the appearance of being that of the enemy, or for the reason that enemy forces have assembled in large numbers, or have constructed their military emplacements in close proximity thereto. The Imperial Government being greatly embarrassed by these facts, I desire emphatically to invite your attention to instances of the above nature.
You conclude in the latter part of your above-mentioned note no. 1274 that the Japanese authorities are not uniformly animated by a spirit of concern for American rights and interests. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs has, at every opportunity, affirmed to His Excellency, Ambassador Grew, and to you, the Japanese people, the Japanese Government and authorities both civil and military at home and abroad, have always been and are anxious for the maintenance and promotion of friendly relations between Japan and the United States, and have invariably considered in good faith the protection of American rights and interests in China. Accordingly, under present circumstances your statements, such as those mentioned above, are indeed inapposite. I earnestly hope that to a greater degree than heretofore the sincerity of Japan’s attitude will be appreciated.
Needless to say, the Japanese Government will take all possible measures to protect rights and interests in China. It is requested that the United States, on its part, cooperate fully with Japan toward avoidance of such damages by preventing the Chinese forces from utilizing such property, by prohibiting the building of military emplacements of the Chinese forces in close proximity to that property, and by other measures.[Page 664]
Finally, I wish to call your attention to the fact that officials of the Japanese Army at Shanghai, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other officials concerned are at present conferring and are giving particular attention to the question of a solatium for the members of the Nyhus family who were injured in the recent unfortunate accident at Tungpeh.
I avail myself [etc.]
- None printed.↩