The American Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs (Arita)

No. 1498

The American Ambassador presents his compliments to His Excellency the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs and has the honor to inform Mr. Arita that the Japanese naval authorities in South China refuse to permit American oil companies to ship kerosene to the Namhoi District, near Canton, which contains the important city of Fatshan. According to reports received by the American Consul General at Canton, the sole right of distributing kerosene in Fatshan has been granted to a firm of Chinese who are said to be closely connected with the local magistrate. Additional monopolies have already been established in the important cities of Nagou, Tungkun, and Tsengshing, and it is understood that the formation of several others is planned.

The American Consul General at Canton has protested orally and in writing on several occasions to his Japanese colleague against interference on the part of the Japanese Navy with the lawful activities of American oil companies, but he has yet to receive an informative reply. The fact that the business of the American oil companies in the districts above-mentioned have been brought to a standstill in the meantime, when viewed in the light of the unresponsive attitude of the Japanese authorities in Canton, cannot but give added basis to the belief that the exclusion of American enterprise from the districts mentioned is under contemplation.

Mr. Grew is desired by his Government to emphasize to Mr. Arita that the restrictions imposed by the Japanese Navy on the oil companies not only constitute an unwarrantable interference with the legitimate activities of American citizens but prejudice the repeated assurances of the Japanese Government that American rights and interests in China will be respected. Mr. Grew requests, under official instructions, that the Japanese Government direct its-representatives in South China to withdraw as soon as possible these restrictions along with other measures calculated to prevent American oil companies from freely operating in the Chinese areas under Japanese occupation.