893.102S/1237: Telegram

The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

1091. My 1058, September 3, 1 p.m.; and my 1074, September 6, 5 p.m. British Chargé d’Affaires and I have again compared notes in regard to situation connected with extra-Settlement roads question. British Consul General [at] Shanghai reports a conversation which he had with Yano, Japanese Chargé d’Affaires, in the course of which Japanese Chargé stated that Japanese Government regards the question as of great importance and that a serious situation would arise if the wishes of his Government were disregarded. Japanese claim agreement affects Japanese extraterritorial rights, saying that Japanese Government had never conceded to the Chinese Government the right to tax Japanese subjects but that under this draft agreement the city government of Greater Shanghai delegated to the municipal government of the International Settlement the right to levy municipal rates on properties adjoining extra-Settlement roads, a right which they could not delegate as they did not possess this right themselves in regard to Japanese. Japanese Chargé d’Affaires stated that Japanese real objection concerned any relinquishment of municipal control over the outside roads at the present time, as they considered that this was a matter to be dealt with by a round-table conference.

Japanese Consul General protested to Cunningham as Senior Consul that matter should be referred to consular body and to the several interested powers before signature and Cunningham promised to call a meeting of the consular body about September 16th for the purpose of considering this question. At this meeting Japanese presumably will object to the negotiation of such an agreement by the Municipal Council with the Chinese authorities without previous approval by the League [treaty?] powers concerned. Cunningham is authorized to say that we have approved draft. Langdon [Brenan?] has similar instructions but Japanese for obvious reasons will doubtless insist reference of question to Diplomatic Body. As a matter of fact draft remains unsigned and according to information given to me by British Chargé d’Affaires there seems to be at the moment little chance of its being signed inasmuch as British and Japanese Councilors are committed to their constituents to publish agreements before signature while the Chinese Mayor on the other hand insists that he cannot sign after publication.

British Chargé d’Affaires and I have agreed on following instructions [Page 646] which we have sent, but not in identic form, to our respective Consuls General at Shanghai.

“September 13, 7 p.m. My September 6, 4 p.m. In view of the fact that there is to be a consular body meeting on or about September 16th to discuss question raised by Japanese Consul General I suggest that, beyond stating that the American Government has no objection to the draft agreement as it now stands or the procedure, you should refrain from any other discussion of the question. In any case you should be careful to avoid discussion that might lead to any commitment concerning our attitude on the subject of a round-table conference. I suggest that you should not directly oppose Japanese contention that approval of Japanese Government is required but should point out that in our opinion land regulations do not apply to what we consider to be a matter of Council’s internal administration.”