The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Hirota) to the American Ambassador in Japan (Grew)
Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s note No. 874 dated January 31, 1938, in which it is stated that the American Government regards the revision of the customs tariff recently enacted and enforced by the provisional Chinese Government as a serious threat to the fundamental principle of the integrity and preservation of the Chinese customs and that with respect to the adverse effect the above-mentioned tariff revision may have upon American rights and interests, including therein trade with China and the servicing from customs revenues of foreign loans and indemnity quotas, the American Government will be compelled to consider the Imperial Government responsible.
As Your Excellency is aware, this partial revision of the Chinese customs was enacted and enforced by the provisional Chinese Government established in Peiping on December 14 last year. Accordingly the Imperial government is not in a position to assume any responsibility with respect to the above-mentioned tariff revision.
Furthermore, according to the view of the Imperial Government the recent tariff revision by the provisional Chinese Government is a reduction or exemption of tariff rates on materials urgently required and indispensable in the restoration of devastated war areas and for the relief of the general population, and on a limited number of articles directly related to the livelihood of the masses. Aside from being considered unavoidable under present conditions in North China, the change in the tariff rate is regarded as fair in that it was strictly kept within necessary limits.[Page 743]
From another point of view, the above-mentioned tariff revision gives no preferential treatment to any third country, and in the light of the fact that the special East Hopei trade which constituted a problem in the past has been abolished, it is believed that the American Government will recognize that the revision in the present instance will from a practical standpoint in no way impair American interests.
I avail myself [etc.]