Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The Japanese Ambassador called and handed me the attached notes,7 which are self-explanatory. I inquired whether he desired a written reply to the note in regard to moral sanctions, including an alleged contract between a Japanese company and American citizens concerning technical processes and manufacturing rights for the production of certain petroleum products. He said that the Japanese Government would like to have a written reply. I then remarked that he no doubt was aware of the fact that the so-called moral embargo on all phases of the airplane situation found its origin in and was based on the bombing of civilian populations from the air in China by the Japanese, and that I would probably list a great number of these bombings as reported to this Government and allow them to be published together with the balance of the contents of the note. The Ambassador appeared very startled at this idea, and repeated the request of his Government for a written reply.

With regard to technical processes for high-test gasoline, I stated that this Government, concerned as it is with the increase of war and the use or threat of force in so many parts of the world, feels constrained to conserve a number of the more vital interests it has in defense commodities or materials, and that this, together with our abhorrence of the bombings of civilian populations, is the basis for the conservation of the gasoline manufacturing processes to which the Ambassador referred.

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The Ambassador brought up the question of the violation by this Government of the Treaty of Commerce of 1911.8 I said, without going into the merits of the matter, that I trusted his Government would not forget how many times American commercial rights and interests have suffered injury in China contrary to all treaties and all law, and that notwithstanding this fact, this Government and others perhaps were expected to be perfectly quiescent while being deprived of their right to participate in economic and other undertakings in China, although the Japanese Government would expect to enjoy the benefits of the rule of equality in its economic dealing with all the Western world. I then added that, as I had heretofore stated to the Ambassador, the subject of commercial treaties was under discussion between Mr. Grew and the Foreign Office at Tokyo, and that we were deferring the entire matter to that discussion for the time being.8a The Ambassador had nothing further to say.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. These notes apparently consisted of the one printed infra and a memorandum of the tentative understandings between the Japan Gasoline Company and Universal Oil Products Company (not printed).
  2. Foreign Relations, 1911, p. 315.
  3. See pp. 189 ff.