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

My Dear Minister: Especially at this time, when our two Governments are giving their best thought and efforts toward a reconstruction of relations between the two countries,93a I feel sure that Your Excellency must wish to avoid unnecessary and petty causes of friction which inevitably serve to irritate while conserving no basic principle or fundamental policy in international comity. When it is an undeniable fact that these causes of friction, through the imposition of non-essential and, if I may use the term, senseless obstructions, interferences and inconveniences imposed on American citizens within the Japanese Empire and Japanese-controlled areas, are absent in the treatment of Japanese nationals in the United States, I believe that Your Excellency will all the more wish to eliminate these most unfortunate proceedings on the part of Japanese authorities in various places under Japanese control.

When I first brought to Your Excellency’s attention some of these obstructive activities on the part of Japanese officials, I received the impression that these facts were not then known to you, and you asked me to bring directly to your notice such further difficulties in this respect as might be encountered. These difficulties continue with very little indication, at least in some places, of any effort whatever on the part of the local authorities to obviate them. I therefore enclose, for Your Excellency’s information, a partial list of these difficulties at the present time.

I venture the thought that reasonable reciprocity will never be established in Japan and in areas under Japanese control in line with the liberal and friendly treatment now accorded to Japanese nationals in the United States until the most explicit instructions go out from the Government in Tokyo to all branches and all ranks of Japanese officialdom, both military and civil. I do not believe that my Government will feel in a position to wait very much longer before taking what would appear to be wholly reasonable and logical steps to equalize the treatment of our respective nationals in our respective countries.

I am [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew
[Page 915]

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


Referring to the document left with His Excellency, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, on August 15, 1941,94 the following further information has been received from American diplomatic and consular offices in Japan and in Japanese-occupied areas in China of interference with American rights and interests.

Police Action:

Recently the police at Dairen twice searched the house of the local representative of the National City Bank; on the second occasion three policemen without any notice or warrant and in the absence of the owner entered his house, completely ransacked it, and left it in disorder. They also searched the residence of the British acting manager of the Texas Company, an American concern. He is in effect debarred from living at his residence as a result of the difficulties encountered when he visits the property and by the “advice” tendered to him. Recently a Chinese watchman at the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company’s plant was tied up for several hours during the night and thus prevented from attending to his duties. Still more recently he was administered a severe beating while making his regular patrols. The inference is inescapable that an attempt is being made by the authorities in every way to make difficult and to obstruct the company’s operations while avoiding any direct action against the officials of the company themselves.

The American Catholic Mission at Fushun, Manchuria, reports that it was ordered by the police authorities to close three stations near Fushun. The Mission complied with the order, but upon requesting a reason therefor was informed that no reasons would be given. More than a hundred Chinese students in a primary school operated by the Mission were intimidated into discontinuing attendance as a result of police action in calling at their homes; the suggestion was then made by the police that as it was obvious the Manchurians did not wish to attend the school, the Mission had better close it.

On September 11, 1941, an American national at Dairen was prevented by the action of the police from sailing upon a ship upon which he had a reservation and for which sailing he had obtained the necessary exit permit. It appears that a few hours prior to the sailing he was informed that without first obtaining a special permit therefor, he [Page 916]could take with him no personal effects in excess of a total value of twenty yen, including trunks, bags, and clothing; that he must specify in the application for the permit each class of article however small (handkerchiefs, for example) as well as the value and the number of each class; that he would not be permitted to take with him any article in excess of the number listed or not specifically listed if the permit were issued; that an application for a permit must be submitted giving in detail his estimated expenditures on the ship and that he could take only sufficient money to pay his expenses on the ship. He was of course unable to sail in view of the lack of time in which to comply with these requirements.

The American Consul at Mukden has been recently informed upon good authority that the police have received orders from Hsinking to treat Americans more severely.

The American Consul at Dairen has received a report from a reliable source that the local police have declared that “no Americans or British are going to leave Dairen with anything more than the clothes on their backs.” It therefore appears obvious that the actions and decisions of the local authorities are not determined by the regulations or on the basis of reciprocal treatment of nationals, despite the recent improvements in certain aspects of the situation.


Travel for American nationals has been made very difficult and in some cases Americans have been prevented from leaving their cities or towns of residence. As a result of restrictions placed upon certain consuls at Mukden our consul there reports that he would be required to obtain a permit even to visit the suburbs of the city. In at least four instances Americans living in Japan have been refused permission to proceed from their places of residence to Kobe from which port they intended to depart for the United States. In one case an American at Hiroshima who had informed the local authorities in advance of his intention to proceed by train to Kobe, and who boarded the train without objection after being interviewed by three officials, was removed from the train at Kure and forced to return to Hiroshima. Americans traveling between Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kobe have been required to obtain police permits for the journey. Reports from Manchuria indicate that Americans are permitted to travel on the railways only three times a month, on the first, eleventh, and twenty-first. Members of the American Catholic Mission at Fushun, Manchuria, have reported to the American Consul at Mukden that they are required to obtain permits to proceed from one section of the town to another section and that such permits are obtainable only upon the three days a month above-mentioned.

[Page 917]

Mail Deliveries:

At Tsinan, Canton, Dairen, and many other places American official, personal, and business mail is subjected to delays amounting in some instances to one month; evidence is also at hand that official mail is tampered with.

Picketing and Similar Interference:

At Tsinan all American properties are picketed and nothing is allowed to be removed without special permission. Local agents of American firms have been instructed to discontinue sales and to prepare inventories of stocks on hand and estimates of the value of American property. The American Consulate was picketed on July 28, but the pickets were later withdrawn.

At Tsining the premises of the Southern Baptist and of the American Presbyterian missions are being picketed and the pickets demanding to be housed and fed. People are allowed to come and go, but nothing is allowed to be taken out, and detailed reports are demanded concerning all visitors. The godown property of the Texas Company (China) Ltd. is occupied, the firm’s representatives being denied access.

At Tsingchowfu (Itu) and Chowtsun, the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company’s installations are sealed by the Japanese gendarmerie.

Police surveillance of the American Consulate at Dairen continues. Although the police box which was originally set up at the entrance to the Consulate has been moved across the street, policemen continue to sit at the entrance and to question visitors.

  1. See vol. ii, pp. 387 ff.
  2. For text, see statement handed to the Japanese Ambassador on August 13, 1941, p. 723.