Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Castle)

When the Japanese Ambassador was talking with me this morning47 he said that the sentence in our communication to the League of Nations,48 reading as follows,

“The Council has formulated conclusions and outlined a course of action to be followed by the disputants; and as the said disputants [Page 191] have made commitments to the Council, it is most desirable that the League in no way relax its vigilance and in no way fail to assert all the pressure and authority within its competence towards regulating the action of China and Japan in the premises.”

had created more or less of a sensation in the Japanese press. The reason for this was our use of the phrase “to assert all the pressure and authority”. The trouble comes from the word “pressure”. The Japanese press interpreted this as meaning something beyond moral pressure. I told the Ambassador that of course this was complete nonsense; that the sentence quoted applied to both the Japanese and Chinese, and that it obviously could only mean moral pressure, that is, moral pressure and the pressure of public opinion which is a moral pressure. He said that he understood this perfectly, and that he brought it up simply as an illustration of how easily a misunderstanding could arise. He referred to a similar misunderstanding which had arisen in this country on account of Hanihara’s use of the expression “grave consequences”,49 an expression which Hanihara had not used in its diplomatic sense, but the consequences of which had been the Japanese Exclusion Law.50 I told the Ambassador that I trusted he would make it quite clear to his Government that in the use of this expression we had no thought in mind except the moral pressure of public opinion.

W[illiam] R. C[astle,] Jr.
  1. For memoranda of conversations between Mr. Castle and the Japanese Ambassador on October 14, see Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 24.
  2. Quoted in telegram No. 88, October 13, 1981, 11 a.m., to the Consul General at Nanking, p. 175.
  3. See note of April 10, 1924, from the Japanese Ambassador, Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, pp. 369, 373; for subsequent explanations, see ibid., pp. 375, 379, 381, 382, 383.
  4. Approved May 26, 1924; 43 Stat. 153.