The American Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Hirota)
Excellency: I have the honor, under instructions from my Government, to invite Your Excellency’s attention to discussions now in progress at Shanghai between officials of the Japanese Government and employes of the Chinese Maritime Customs with regard to certain proposed changes in the organization of the Maritime Customs and in the disposition of the revenues collected by the Maritime Customs. The position being taken by the Japanese officials under reference toward representatives of other foreign Governments who desire to participate in these discussions is that they cannot tolerate the intervention in the matter by third parties.
The American Government shares with the Japanese Government along with other Governments a recognized economic and historic interest in the Chinese customs administration. The integrity of the Chinese customs and the disposition of its revenues constitute, as the Japanese Government is aware, a definite American interest. The developments at Shanghai to which I have above referred, as well as other events relating to the customs service, must therefore be regarded by the American Government as of high interest and importance, and it cannot but view with profound concern the taking of any step which would in any way impair the integrity of the Chinese customs service.
The American Government has a specific concern and a specific interest in any arrangement, even of a temporary character and intended to be maintained only during the period of the current hostilities, affecting the administration and the distribution of the revenues of the customs service. The American Government accordingly believes that it has a right to expect that its representatives at Shanghai be consulted in respect of any new arrangement which may be under contemplation. The American Government has, therefore, directed its Consul General at Shanghai to hold himself in readiness for such consultation and to be prepared to indicate whether any arrangement under contemplation adequately protects both the integrity of the customs service and American interests therein.
I avail myself [etc.]