793.94/16698: Telegram

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

851. Embassy’s 842, 19th, 1 p.m.45a Bombing of American Embassy Chungking. The Embassy’s translation of note no. 69, American, dated June 18, received today from the Foreign Office, follows:

“Excellency: I have the honor to state that I have carefully perused the contents of Your Excellency’s note, dated June 16, 1941, stating that, according to a report from the American Ambassador at Chungking, about five bombs were dropped at points within a distance of from one hundred to three hundred yards from the American Embassy at Chungking and the American man-of-war Tutuila during the bombing of Chungking by Japanese aircraft on the afternoon of June 15; that the office of the American assistant military attaché and the Embassy Chancery were damaged; and that the office of the Standard Oil Company near the Ambassador’s residence and Chancery was also damaged slightly. Your Excellency’s note also contained a protest, in accordance with instructions from Your Excellency’s Government, with respect to the endangering of the personnel and property of the American Embassy at Chungking by Japanese aircraft.

Your Excellency’s apprehensions concerning the effect of such indiscriminate bombing upon American public opinion were also stated. As the result of a prompt inquiry made of the Japanese forces in the area concerned regarding the circumstances of the case, it was ascertained that a unit of the Japanese naval air forces, which took off to bomb the Chungking area on June 15, attacked military establishments of the Chinese Army in the city of Chungking at about 3 o’clock on that afternoon. It happened that just as the commander gave the order to release bombs, one plane on the outside of the formation, failing to maintain its correct position, fell behind and the bombs dropped by that plane alone thus became uncontrolled stray bombs. It is believed that the accident mentioned in Your Excellency’s note was due to these stray bombs which fell on the Eastern Bank of the Yangtze River near the Kwanyin Temple, and it is a matter of extreme regret to the Imperial Government.

As stated in our note dated June 14, 1940, the Imperial Army and Navy are taking every precaution, even at the cost of strategic inconvenience, not to bomb the vicinity of the American Embassy, and officers and men at the front have been strictly warned to that effect. I have, however, lost no time in urging the Army and Navy authorities to take further precautions to prevent the recurrence of accidents of this nature. At the same time, however, I wish to take this opportunity [Page 718]to request that the American Government give consideration to the matter of cooperation toward the prevention of unfortunate and unforeseen accidents by transferring, if possible, the Tutuila to a zone of safety as informally suggested on many occasions by the Japanese naval authorities in China to the American naval authorities [stationed] there.

I avail myself etc. etc.”

Sent to the Department via Shanghai. Shanghai please repeat to Chungking and Peiping.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Not printed.