711.94/1649b: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Grew)

297. During a call today by the Japanese Ambassador, who came at my request, I made to him and handed to him a transcript of an oral statement as follows:

“At the end of June and during July of this year Japanese-sponsored authorities introduced in portions of China new economic measures and restrictions detrimental to American interests, and there occurred a series of incidents involving Japanese and American nationals. During this period there has been carried on intermittently agitation directed against American interests which has taken the form of mass meetings and demonstrations by Japanese residents and an inflammatory press campaign in the Japanese-controlled press. There were also developments in Japan which have raised questions as to the welfare and security of American nationals residing in that country.

Developments at Shanghai have been of an especially serious character.

At that place, acts of terrorism have been committed against reputable American citizens and established American interests, as well as against other nationals and other interests, and a judge of one of the courts established by international agreement, to which the Government of the United States is a party, has been assassinated. Newspapers subject to Japanese control have been conducting an anti-American and anti-foreign campaign, the inflammatory character of which could not but affect prejudicially peace and order.

The authorities of the International Settlement have made every effort to deal with the realities of the difficult situation confronting them. There is, however, no indication that Japanese officials have used their undoubted influence in a way which would contribute to allay the agitation.

The United States has, by reason of international agreement to which it is a party and by reason of the large number of its nationals residing in the International Settlement and the considerable property and other interests possessed by its nationals there, an important concern in any development relating to questions of peace and order in the Settlement and to questions affecting the administration of the Settlement and of the duly constituted establishments of government, including courts, situated there. The United States has, of course, an especial concern for the welfare and security of American nationals.

The Government of the United States is deeply concerned over the various actions to which certain Japanese agencies and instrumentalities [Page 863]in China appear to be resorting as a means of exerting pressure upon the duly constituted authorities of the foreign administered areas at Shanghai and upon the nationals of third powers. The Government of the United States is loath to believe that the Government of Japan condones these acts.

The Government of the United States has made due note of and is taking due account of those acts and developments which affect adversely interests of the United States and its nationals.

An illustrative list of recent restrictions and incidents is appended.”

The summary of recent illustrative developments and incidents affecting adversely interests of the United States and of its nationals, which I also handed to him, included the following:

Establishment in North China on June 28 of full import exchange control;

Assault on July 4 at Chefoo on members of the American Presbyterian Mission by Japanese armed soldiers;

July 7 incident at Shanghai involving American Marines and Japanese gendarmes,61 including reference to restraint and good will shown by American authorities in attempting to effect reasonable adjustment and to the intemperate tone and language of communications from the concerned Japanese authorities;

The refusal since about July 8 of Japanese military authorities at Shanghai to issue permits for shipments by American firms to the hinterland and Yangtze Valley;

Mass meeting on July 10 in Hongkew in connection with the July 7 incident, reported intemperate statements by the commander of the Japanese naval landing party, and sensational and inciting articles published in Japanese-controlled newspapers;

The demand of the Nanking regime for the deportation from Shanghai of six Americans and one British subject, the throwing of bombs at a Chinese language newspaper in which an American claims an interest, and the assassination of Samuel Chang;

Tang Liang-li’s reputed letter in the North China Daily News of July 16 and a foreign newspaper commentator’s interpretation thereof as a threat to kidnap if not to murder the Americans and Briton concerned;

A report of July 19 from Shanghai that an American missionary woman at Soochow had been searched in a humiliating and insulting manner by a Japanese sentry;

An anti-American demonstration on July 19 at Hangchow by Japanese in uniform riding in Japanese military trucks;

Attack on July 20 at Shanghai on Hallett Abend;61a

The appeal on July 20 of the Chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Council to the Consular Body, the public criticism of the appeal by the Japanese Consul General, and the attempt of the Japanese Consul General to cause the Consular Body to indicate in a resolution that “Chungking elements” were responsible for all terrorism in Shanghai;

[Page 864]

The receipt on July 23 by the American Consul at Shanghai of a telegram from Amagasaki demanding apologies and withdrawal of American forces from China;

The demand of the Nanking regime, reported July 23, for the arrest of a large number of Chinese in the Settlement, deportation of certain foreigners, and closing down of foreign newspapers published in the Settlement and newspaper threats that the regime will take over Settlement police rights;

The arrest on July 27 in Tokyo of a number of British subjects, the death of Cox,61b the arrest and detention of Morin,61c and the subsequent press warning to foreign correspondents;

The assassination of Judge Chien on July 29 in Shanghai;

A report of July 31 that instructions had been issued to Shanghai representatives of Japanese newspapers to look for stories on which anti-American articles might be based;

The assassination on August 2 of a White Russian employed by an American firm, the kidnaping of a Chinese coal dealer on the same day, and the publication of anti-American articles in a Japanese controlled paper.

In a note to the list it was observed that, in connection with certain incidents, the local American authorities moved rapidly in instances in which there was evidence of some fault on the American side to make appropriate amends, but that in connection with other incidents in which the evidence indicated chief fault on the Japanese side the fair and reasonable attitude of the local American authorities did not meet with a similar response on the part of the local Japanese authorities. It was observed also that in some instances, following the settlement of the incidents, the local Japanese authorities gave to the press distorted versions of the terms of settlement as well as the circumstances surrounding the incidents.

Sent to Tokyo via Shanghai. Repeated to Peiping and Chungking.

  1. See telegram No. 671, July 22, 1940, from the Consul at Shanghai, vol. ii, p. 101.
  2. Far Eastern correspondent of the New York Times.
  3. Reuter’s representative (British) in Tokyo.
  4. Associated Press representative in Tokyo.