123 C 353/208: Telegram

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

18. Legation’s 11, January 4, 2 p.m. Following from American Consul [General] at Mukden:

“January 4, 3 p.m. The following supplements my telegram of January 3, noon, giving particulars of Chamberlain’s written statement. My car was flying American flag when stopped in the early morning darkness by Japanese patrol, two soldiers and two plainclothes men, interpreter. Interpreter questioned Chamberlain in a provocative manner. Chauffeur answered the questions politely and Chamberlain produced card and diplomatic passport. After a lapse of about 5 minutes Chamberlain ordered car to proceed but the way was barred by the soldiers with leveled rifles. Chamberlain, alighting from the car, asked plain-clothes man for his card but when menaced by soldiers’ pointed rifles protested. Plain-clothes man, entirely without provocation, aimed a blow at Chamberlain who reentered car. The plain-clothes man followed him into the car raining blows on face and head of Chamberlain who did not resist but only tried to protect himself by raising his arms over his head. One of the soldiers opened car door on the other side and struck Chamberlain in the face several times. Beating finally terminated and car covered by leveled rifles was ordered to proceed; car returned to Consulate General by another route.

Above statement of facts corroborated by chauffeur.”

“January 4, 4 p.m. The following is the sense of statement made to the press this morning by headquarters spokesmen—at 6:30 Sunday morning a Japanese patrol of two soldiers and a temporarily engaged military interpreter in Mukden halted an automobile flying an American flag. As Chinese have frequently used the American flag to [Page 731] disguise anti-Japanese activities the occupant of the car was asked to identify himself. The occupant arrogantly proffered a visiting card and a passport which were clearly understood by the interpreter. The Japanese, although provoked, said that the car might pass on. The gentleman in that car then descended and said menacingly what are your names, grasped one of the soldiers by the coat and tried to pull him into the car but as the interpreter intervened to protect the soldier, the gentleman entered into the automobile alone and attempted to draw a revolver. At this one of the soldiers reached in from the other side of the car and seized the gentleman’s hand to prevent him from making use of his firearms. The interpreter, angered by the American’s arrogant behavior, struck him three blows about the head slightly bruising him; it is thought that the American struck them with his left hand.

The offenders are known and while not under arrest have been detained for questioning. It is being considered whether any action will be taken against them.

It is believed that the above statement has been made to counteract the press reports filed yesterday.”

“January 4, 5 p.m. Referring to my telegram January 3, noon, Japanese Acting Consul General officially called on me this afternoon to express his deepest regret for the attack on Mr. Chamberlain and to state that Sakakihara, the chief offender who was in Mukden and has been a temporary interpreter since September 18th, was dismissed this morning and that the punishment of the two soldiers is under consideration. He also stated Lieutenant Colonel Hyakutake, the military representative in Harbin, has been instructed to make apologies to Consul Chamberlain.44 My colleague informed me that Major Kawashima, who is the Commanding Officer of the gendarme unit in which these soldiers are temporarily serving, desires to call on me whenever convenient to express his deepest regret.”

Telegram January 4, 5 p.m., repeated to Tokyo.

2. Contents telegrams January 4, 3 p.m., and January 4, 4 p.m., not given to press here. Substance of telegram January 4, 4 p.m., has not [been] released.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Consul Chamberlain reported for duty at Harbin on January 4, 1932 (123 C 353/207).