The Japanese Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the American Embassy in Japan48a

Aide Mémoire

His Excellency the American Ambassador in Tokyo, on February 27th last, orally communicated his views to the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs with regard to the affairs of the International Settlement in Shanghai.48b In his remarks the American Ambassador referred to the negotiations between the Japanese Consul-General in Shanghai and the authorities of the Shanghai Municipal Council concerning co-operation for the suppression of terrorism within the Settlement. These negotiations have since made good progress, and have reached an amicable agreement in substance, with the exception of the proposal for increasing the Japanese staff of the Municipal Police, which remains pending.
The American Ambassador also referred to the question of changes in the Council, the Municipal staff, administrative practices [Page 839]and etc. In this connection, His Excellency’s attention may be drawn to the following points:
It is generally admitted that the administrative structure and systems of the Settlement, the history of which dates back for so long, contain many defects which make them incongruous with the new situation of today. A case in point is afforded by the Land Regulations, on which is based the administration of the Settlement. The provisions of the Land Regulations now in force, save on a few minor points, remain exactly the same as those of the Land Regulations which were passed by the ratepayers in 1866 and approved by the Ministers in Peking in 1869. In other words, the Settlement is still governed by a basic set of regulations enacted as long ago as 1866. In those days, the Settlement was in area less than one-third of the present Settlement, while foreigners residing there numbered no more than 2,200 and there were only about 90,000 Chinese residents. It is no wonder that the existing administrative structure and systems of the Settlement should in many respects be ill-adapted for dealing with things in the new situation which has been steadily evolving during the ensuing 70 odd years and which has undergone a radical change in more recent times.
Apart from the question as to how the fundamental problem of the future of the Settlement should be handled in the light of the new situation now assuming shape in East Asia, it is recognized that, in order to enable the Settlement to adapt itself to the actual conditions now obtaining and really to discharge its functions with propriety, not a few improvements and innovations should be introduced into its administrative machinery and into the working of this machinery. It may be recalled that several years ago the question of the reform of the Municipal Council came in for much discussion in the Press of Shanghai. At that time, it was pointed out that the system of election for the Councillors remained as undemocratic as of old; that the British almost monopolized the more important of offices in the Municipal Council, held an overwhelming majority in its other offices and tended to be oligarchical in administering its affairs; that administrative expenses were excessive, particularly because of high salaries, a considerable retrenchment of expenditure being required in regard to the Volunteer Corps, the Orchestra and education, and in other respects; and that the budgeted expenditure of the Municipal Council, especially that relating to education, was not fairly distributed to the different national communities. All these assertions were generally taken to be justified. Public opinion lent powerful support to the view that the Land Regulations should be so revised as to meet the requirements of modern times.
In order to make smooth the working of the administrative machinery of the Settlement, it is necessary that the structure of the [Page 840]Municipal Council should be remodelled with a view to fulfilling the requirements of the present day. It is also necessary that the nationals of all the countries interested should have a fair and just voice in the affairs of the Municipal Council. The voice of the Japanese community, however, does not, in many respects, find full and fair expression in the administration of the Settlement, considering the magnitude of the Japanese interests affected. This is evident from the number of the Japanese Councillors, from the position of Japanese officers in the Police Department of the Municipal Council, or from how Japanese officials stand in the other departments of general administration. A reasonable adjustment of the present conditions, which are so unsatisfactory as above stated, is, therefore, imperatively necessary, in order to render possible Japan’s active cooperation in the administration of the Settlement and to ensure a smooth working of its administrative machinery.
A momentous fact which should not be overlooked in considering the status and administration of the Settlement is the change that has come over the general situation in China since the outbreak of the Japanese-Chinese Affair, especially the complete change that has occurred in the actual situation prevailing in Shanghai and its neighbourhood. New régimes, distinct and separate from the Chiang Kai-shek Régime, have come into existence and are functioning—the Special City Government in Shanghai and the Weihsin Government in Central China. It should in particular be noted that the Special City Government of Shanghai has in fact assumed the responsibilities of administration as the actual Governing Body in the areas adjoining the Settlement. It is most desirable, therefore, that the Settlement authorities should enter into close cooperation with the Special City Government for the maintenance of peace and order, and for the safeguarding of general public welfare, in Shanghai and its vicinity. From this point of view, there are some measures calling for immediate attention. For instance, practical consideration in the light of the new situation should be given to the position of the Chinese Court of Justice existing within the Settlement, and a speedy solution is required for the question of restitution of the old City Government’s Land Registers held in custody by the Municipal Council.
Another momentous fact which cannot be passed unnoticed is the rampancy of anti-Japanese elements or elements hostile to the new régimes in China, who are taking advantage of the special status of the Settlement for the purpose of carrying on their malevolent activities. To leave these elements unchecked is not advisable if only for the sake of the existence and well-being of the Settlement itself. It is incumbent upon the Settlement authorities and upon all the interested countries to accord serious consideration of the necessity of effecting a thorough control of the terrorism, anti-Japanese propaganda [Page 841]and all other malignant acts of these elements, and to take the requisite steps accordingly. The Japanese Government is watching with grave concern the utilization of the Settlement by the lawless elements as a base of their nefarious operations.
  1. Handed to the American Ambassador in Japan (Grew) by the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs (Sawada) on May 3, 1939.
  2. Not printed.