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

No. 105, American I

Note Verbale

The Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs presents its compliments to the American Embassy at Tokyo and, with regard to the cases enumerated in the statement (Recent interference with American rights and interests in Japan and areas in China under Japanese military occupation) handed by Secretary of State Hull to Ambassador Nomura at Washington on August 13, 1941, has the honor to state that these questions were promptly referred to the Japanese authorities concerned for investigations into the actual circumstances thereof, and that, moreover, those authorities have been advised to exercise particular care to prevent the various regulatory measures being applied unreasonably or unnecessarily. According to reports which have [Page 918] been received to date, the matters mentioned in the statements in question can be divided in general into the following categories: (1) Those which arose through some misunderstanding and are without basis in fact; (2) those in which, although the condition described in the statement existed temporarily, due to special circumstances, the original condition was later restored; and (3) those in which the continuation of the condition described in the statement is still unavoidable because of the necessities of the current situation but in which consideration is being given to restoring promptly the original situation if those necessities cease to exist.

The details of those cases which have been clarified are reported to the American Embassy in Tokyo as follows, with the request that the information be transmitted to the American Secretary of State.


1. Question of travel restriction in North China.

Because of military necessity, travel permits issued by the Japanese Army are necessary in North China for travel of third power nationals including Americans. When Japan and China took counter-measures in connection with the application by the American Government at the end of July of the freezing regulations to Japanese and Chinese assets, there were, by mistake, some instances in certain areas in North China of the issuance of travel permits to British and American nationals being suspended temporarily. This condition, however, was corrected immediately under instructions from the central authorities.

2. Question of the prohibition against transportation of hand baggage at Peitaiho.

It is not a fact that the transportation of hand baggage of Americans to railway stations is prohibited at Peitaiho. With regard to the matter of the refusal to receive hand baggage for checking at railway stations, checking service was suspended for several days as an emergency measure, but later checking service is understood to have been resumed in accordance with established procedure.

3. Question of restrictions on travel by American citizens within Japan.

The imposition of restrictions on the travel of foreigners within Japan is an unavoidable condition at present but as evidenced by the fact that facilities recently were accorded to twenty-four American officials for their travel to Shanghai, the authorities are giving consideration to means of eliminating such inconvenience so far as possible. With the exception of one zone, there are generally speaking no restrictions at the moment on travel in Japan Proper.

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4. Question of Seizure of Postal matter at Tsingtao.

It is reported as not a fact that postal matter was seized in Tsingtao.

5. Question of despatch of gendarmes to American oil companies at Tsingtao.

Although it is stated that the compounds of the Standard-Vacuum and Texas oil companies, and the Universal Leaf Tobacco Company at Tsingtao, are occupied by the Japanese gendarmerie, it is only to the compound of the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company that guards of the Japanese gendarmerie were despatched. On the basis of the information that communists and other disturbing elements were planning destruction of third power properties for the purpose of causing international controversy, the Japanese gendarmerie, with the object of protecting American property, sent a responsible person and an interpreter to the company on July 28 to consult with and establish liaison with Mr. T. D. Horps, the company’s plant superintendent, and it was with the understanding of the company that the guard was despatched. Moreover, it is understood that the prohibition against smoking by guards within the company’s establishment is being strictly observed.

6. Question of the prohibition against furnishing taxis and against repairing automobiles at Tsingtao.

It is not a fact that the furnishing of taxis to and the repairing of automobiles for Americans were prohibited. These are matters which chiefly concern Chinese concerns, but in Tsingtao at present it is generally extremely difficult to obtain taxis and it is surmised that this situation has arisen because of the problem of acquiring gasoline.

7. Question of the prohibition against distribution of coal at Tsingtao.

It is not a fact that such a prohibition was made.

8. Question of obstructing the distribution of wheat for famine relief by the American Red Cross at Tsingtao.

The wheat in question was received by the International Relief Association at the end of July and stored in the warehouse of a Chinese firm, Hehsingli. Under the asset freezing measures, however, permission became necessary for its disposition. Although it seems that this procedure entailed some delay, permission was granted during the middle of August and therefore it is not a fact that the distribution of the wheat was obstructed.

9. Question of restrictions on sale of foodstuffs and other articles by Chinese dealers to American nationals.

Permission is necessary, under the Temporary Special Transaction Control Law enforced by the North China Political Affairs Commission, for any transaction involving more than 100 yuan. It is reported [Page 920] as not true, however, that instructions have been given prohibiting transactions involving more than 20 yuan.

10. Question of order for the cancellation of American insurance policies.

It is reported as not true that such an order for cancellation of policies was issued.

11. Question of seizure of postal matter at Chefoo.

It is also reported not a fact that postal matter was seized at Chefoo.

12. Question of American commercial firms at Tientsin being unable to transport goods by rail.

Railway transportation was suspended temporarily as an emergency measure, but it is reported that later transportation has been resumed in accordance with fixed procedure.

13. Question of refusal to accept registered mail matter of American commercial firms at Tientsin.

As for letters, it is not a fact, and as for parcels only those which violated the regulations were not accepted.

14. Question of blockade of Cheeloo University and Cheeloo Hospital at Tsinan.

Since the enforcement of the assets freezing measures, commodities brought in and out of Cheeloo University and Cheeloo Hospital by Chinese have been inspected by the Chinese police. The taking out or bringing in of foodstuffs, daily necessities, and other general goods, however, are said to be permitted.

15. Question of undue interference with embroidery and drawn work trade of American commercial firms at Swatow.

Although, owing to the shipping situation, loading on ships has been somewhat delayed, it is absolutely not a fact that the Japanese authorities unduly interfered with or exerted pressure to obstruct such shipments. It is reported, for instance, that 350 tons of drawn work and embroidery were shipped immediately after the enforcement of the assets freezing measures.

16. Question of restrictions on the use of English on the telephone in Japan.

There is no restriction on telephone conversations in foreign languages within the same city. Only in long distance calls is conversation restricted to the Japanese language. It was really necessary, however, from the standpoint of espionage prevention, for Japan to take this measure. This measure is applied equally to all languages, other than Japanese, and will be relaxed or withdrawn promptly when it is recognized that the necessity therefor has ceased to exist. The policy of immediately abolishing this restriction within Japan Proper has now been decided upon, and although revision of the [Page 921] pertinent laws and ordinances will require some time, in practice telephone conversations in foreign languages will be permitted from the evening of September 13.

17. Question of restrictions on the travel of American nuns at Fushun.

These restrictions are based upon the requirement under Public Peace Department ordinance “Matters concerning Restriction of Entry, Sojourn, and Travel of Foreigners”, enacted in Manchoukuo on August 1, that a certificate from the chief of the police station at place of residence be obtained in advance for the travel of third power nationals.

18. Question of surveillance of staff members of the American Consulate at Dairen.

Sentry boxes have been removed by the government offices concerned, and in other respects the situation is understood to have greatly improved.