793.94/15253

The Japanese Ambassador (Horinouchi) to the Secretary of State

Statement of the Japanese Government:

As stated by the Foreign Minister to the Chargé d’Affaires of the United States upon the latter’s representation on July 10, the Japanese Government regrets to learn that bombs fell near the official residences of the American Ambassador and Counselor in Chungking and an American warship anchored in the Yangtze, and caused damage to a church owned by American missionaries during the bombing of that place by the Japanese naval air force on the 6th and 7th of July.

However, it should be stated that the occurrence of such an incident was accidental. As described in the report of our Commander-in-Chief of the China Sea Fleet attached hereto, the air force concerned in the accident “is at a loss to know by what chance any bomb could have fallen on the southern bank of the Yangtze River.” It is to be regretted, therefore, that the American authorities, on the basis of this unfortunate occurrence alone, should charge the Japanese naval [Page 668]air force with an indiscriminate and reckless bombing without according due credit to the assiduous care and the sincerity of purpose with which Japanese air forces have been endeavoring not to inflict any damage to the interests of third powers.

It has been repeatedly explained to the American authorities, either orally or in written statement, that the Japanese forces, regardless of whether they belong to the army or the navy, have taken every conceivable measure in their efforts for precluding the possibilities of endangering the lives and property of third power nationals. They have made it their practice to investigate as minutely as possible the relative positions of their bombing objectives and the property of third powers before deciding upon the direction and sphere of their action, and in actual bombing the crews of their planes, though exposed at every moment to the attacks from the land and air forces of the enemy and by no means sure of the safety of their own lives in the next moment, have assiduously striven for accurate aiming and for the prevention thereby of any damage to the interests of third powers. It is earnestly hoped that the American Government will fully appreciate these circumstances and have confidence in the military discipline with which the Japanese air forces are performing their operations.

Notwithstanding these painstaking efforts of our air forces, untoward accidents do occur on account of the extreme difficulties arising from the fact that aerial markings of property are often imperfect and that Chinese forces, military organs and establishments are situated close to the property of third powers, as well as the fact that bombing has to be carried on while our air force is engaged in an aerial combat and is also exposed to fire from the ground. We earnestly hope that the American Government will appreciate the unavoidability of some bombs going astray under circumstances such as these. We are nevertheless very sorry for any damage that might be caused thereby to the interests of third powers. We have been constantly applying ourselves to the problem of discovering a method of minimizing such hazard to third powers, and will put forth still greater efforts with that end in view.

It is earnestly desired in this connection that the American Government will take further measures along practical lines with regard to the marking of property and the furnishing to the Japanese authorities more complete maps that show clearly the location of their rights and interests, as well as the prevention of the Chinese from constructing military establishments and organs, or concentrations of their troops, near such rights and interests.

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[Enclosure]

The Japanese Ambassador (Horinouchi) to the Secretary of State

Report of the Commander-in-Chief of the China Sea Fleet:

Upon the receipt of the news that during the air raid on Chungking by our naval air force in the early morning hours on July 6 and 7 bombs fell in the neighborhood of American property, including the residences of the American Ambassador and Counselor and an American warship, the Commander-in-Chief of our China Sea Fleet, who recognized the regrettable character of the incident, immediately issued an order to take further precautions against recurrence of similar incidents, and at the same time called to Shanghai the senior staff officer of the air force concerned and made a personal inquiry into the affair. The Commander-in-Chief ordered the air force again, through the senior staff officer, to exercise caution. The facts of the case as established by the inquiry are as follows:

“A Japanese naval air force raided Chungking on July 6 between 2:55 and 4:00 o’clock A.M. (Japanese Standard Time) and on July 7 between 2:50 and 4:05 o’clock A.M. (Japanese Standard Time), the principal objectives being the Chungking headquarters of the chairman of the military affairs committee and the military establishments in the vicinity of the central park. During these raids it was noted that all the bombs landed nearby those objectives.

“The said air force was aware of the existence of American property on the south bank of the Yangtze River, namely on the opposite side of Chungking, and every precautionary measure was taken against inflicting any damage upon the property. Especially on the morning of July 6, despite the difficult circumstances in which our airmen found themselves as they were subjected to enemy gunfire under illumination, they exercised the utmost care even to the extent of performing the approach maneuver all over again when there was the slightest doubt as to the accuracy in aiming.

“Our men noted on July 7 two bombs go astray and fall in the river northeast of Chungking, but on neither July 7 nor 6 did they note any other bomb fall in the river or on the south bank. They cannot but wonder by what chance any bombs could have fallen near the American property.”