The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Japan (Dooman)
149. Your 246, May 28, 3 p.m.,50 reporting press version of oral statement issued by a spokesman of the Japanese Foreign Office in regard to the status of the International Settlements in China,51 and Shanghai’s 440, May 29, 2 p.m.,50 reporting a press version of a statement by the Japanese Consul General at Shanghai in regard to the International Settlement there.
- [Paraphrase.] The question is raised by the Department as to
whether an unqualified formal question (such as you suggest in the
second paragraph of the telegram cited) might impel the taking of a
definitively proclaimed position by the Japanese Government from
which position it might find it difficult to recede if it so wished.
It is believed by the Department, however, as apparently also by
you, that the statements reportedly made by Japanese officials
should not be passed over without notice, and the Department is
considering an oral approach to the Japanese Foreign Office by you,
with a supporting memorandum of an informal nature along the
following lines: [End paraphrase.]
- The Government of the United States is informed that Japanese press reports attribute to a spokesman of the Japanese Foreign Office a statement made on May 24, 1939, to the effect that China’s sovereignty still extends over the foreign settlements in China and that, as the purpose of the present Japanese military activity in China is to control Chinese sovereignty, Japan may control that sovereignty in the settlements as in the parts of China under Japanese occupation. The spokesman is reported to have added that there is no ground for admission of foreign interference in the elimination of anti-Japanese activities in the occupied areas, and that the hostilities in China should not be permitted to constitute a reason for delay in initiating reforms in the International Settlements. There have also come to the attention of the Government of the United States press [Page 847]reports attributing inter alia to the Japanese Consul General at Shanghai a statement, reported to have been made on May 27, to the effect that he believes that his American, British and French colleagues are well aware that a refusal to negotiate with him in regard to revision of the Shanghai Land Regulations would mean the loss of “a safety value [valve?] for the settlement”.
- While the Government of the United States is loath to believe that these reported statements by officials of the Government of Japan portray accurately the considered attitude of that Government, the following observations are made specifically in regard to the International Settlement at Shanghai in further clarification of the views of the Government of the United States:
- The United States, in common with Japan and other interested Treaty Powers, has rights and obligations in and with respect to the International Settlement at Shanghai. The Government of China has no part in the policing of the International Settlement at Shanghai. The Settlement is administered by the duly constituted Settlement authorities under the Land Regulations. All of the principal Treaty Powers, including the United States and Japan, have subscribed to these Regulations.
- The Government of the United States accordingly is confident that the Government of Japan recognizes that neither the Government of China nor any other Government has any right unilaterally to interfere with the administration of the International Settlement in accordance with the regulations which have been approved by all the Powers concerned.
- The attitude of the United States Government toward the question of the revision of the Land Regulations of the International Settlement and its views in regard to the efforts which the Settlement authorities have been and are continuing to make toward meeting reasonable requests from the Japanese authorities by means of adjustments in administrative practice were expressed in the aide-mémoire presented to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the American Ambassador to Japan on May 17, 1939.
- The observations made above specifically in regard to the International Settlement at Shanghai apply with equal force in principle to the International Settlement on the Island of Kulangsu at Amoy.
- [Paraphrase.] It is assumed by the Department that the British, French, and possibly other interested Governments may desire to take cognizance of statements above in paragraph 1 (a), and therefore both you and the Consul General at Shanghai are authorized to confer in your discretion with your interested colleagues concerning the matter.
- Comments and suggestions from either of you will be welcomed by the Department regarding the approach outlined tentatively in the foregoing. Before making an approach, you are instructed to await further specific directions from the Department.
Telegram repeated to Peiping and Chungking. [End paraphrase.]