793.94/16682: Telegram

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

830. Chungking’s 240, June 15, 3 p.m.42 Without delay I immediately sought an appointment with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and delivered to him in person a signed note quoted below. I made the most emphatic representations and pointed out the grave danger to American-Japanese relations involved in recent bombing attacks on Chungking which have now resulted in heavy damage to our [Page 716]Embassy property, including the residence of the Ambassador, and seriously jeopardizing both the lives of the Ambassador and other American nationals and the U.S.S. Tutuila. I reminded the Minister of the Panay incident43 and its aftermath and expressed the personal opinion that under present circumstances I personally questioned whether the relations between the United States and Japan could now stand a similar strain. If these indiscriminate and wanton attacks should continue, the risks of fatal results must be reckoned with. I said that seldom if ever during my nine years in Japan had I felt greater anxiety than at the present moment. I added that while aware that the Minister was faced with many problems at the present moment, I believed that the issue of these bombing attacks was of more far-reaching importance and gravity than any other issues.

Mr. Matsuoka, who had come out of an official conference to receive me briefly, merely said, “I agree with you.” He indicated that he had not yet heard of this recent attack and did not know whether military or naval planes were involved but that he would take up the matter immediately and personally with both the War and Navy Ministers.

“Excellency: I have the honor to inform your Excellency that, according to information just received from the American Ambassador at Chungking, during an air raid early on the afternoon of June 15, 1941, twenty-seven Japanese airplanes flying high bombed Chungking and also dropped several, about five, bombs within areas of one to three hundred yards of the Embassy Chancery and the United States ship Tutuila. A bomb which dropped within fifty yards of the entrance to the Embassy dugout hit alongside of and heavily damaged the offices of the assistant military attaché, about half way between the Chancery and the United States ship Tutuila. The concussion and flying debris damaged the Chancery, including the windows, transoms, tile roof, screens and shutters. Some damage was also caused at the Ambassador’s residence a half mile away and at the Standard Oil offices near the Chancery.

Fortunately, there were no casualties amongst the personnel of the Embassy or the United States ship Tutuila. There were a number of Chinese dead and wounded in the vicinity.

Acting under instructions from my Government, I must again emphatically protest against this endangering by Japanese military airplanes of the personnel and premises of the American Embassy in Chungking. I cannot sufficiently stress and I am, therefore, constrained to reiterate my anxiety concerning the inevitable effect upon American public opinion of such wanton and random bombardment.

Your Excellency will, I am sure, agree that such recurrence as has been described above does not comport with the assurances given to Your Excellency by the Imperial Japanese Minister of War, as conveyed to me on June 6 last through Your Excellency’s personal message.44

I avail, etc.”

[Page 717]

Sent to the Department and to Shanghai. Shanghai please repeat to Chungking, Peiping and Hankow.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Not printed.
  3. See pp. 517 ff.
  4. See despatch No. 5645, June 10, 1941, from the Ambassador in Japan, supra.