123 C 353/223

Memorandum by the Secretary of State

I summoned the Japanese Ambassador and when he came I told him that I had now received Mr. Chamberlain’s account of the incident when he was assaulted and that I had also received reports of the statements made by the officers of the Japanese Army. I said from these it appeared that the Consul had been traveling in an official car with an American flag when he was halted and that before any blows were struck him, it was admitted by the statements of both sides, he had identified himself with his card and his passport; and that it was further admitted by the statements of both sides that the first blows had been struck by the Japanese. I said the foregoing had been [Page 733] admitted even if we assumed as true the statement made by the Japanese military headquarters, which the Japanese Ambassador must realize was in some respects quite preposterous. He said at once that he did realize that the statement was absurd in some respects. I said I felt sure that under the circumstances he would agree with me that the protection of American officers, both official and unofficial, in a troubled community like Manchuria now, and particularly in a community of such a preponderating population of Chinese who are so greatly influenced by respect or disrespect for officials, it would be necessary that adequate punishment be administered to these Japanese soldiers; that it was no defense for them to say that the interpreter was mostly at fault; that they should have protected the Consul from violence by the interpreter. I told the Ambassador furthermore that I had been handling a very similar case where an American citizen in Poland was assaulted by some Polish soldiers and the Polish Government had acted very promptly and handsomely in its apology and had severely punished the soldiers, and in addition had awarded the injured American some $4,000;45 that in this case in Japan I did not ask for pecuniary award but I did ask for adequate punishment for the offenders.

The Ambassador said that privately he felt just as I did; that I was acting as he should act, and he appreciated also my friendly attitude in expressing my satisfaction with the apology presented by the Japanese Government at Tokyo. I then presented him with the aide-mémoire which is attached to this paper,46 saying that it was just a memorandum to assist him and I did not intend to make it public and in fact that I would not make anything of this interview public for the present so that his government might have an easier time in adjusting this matter. He said I must remember that in the case of soldiers on patrol duty it would be difficult to punish them without making them very timid. I said in this case they had been so very flagrant and they had acted with so much clear knowledge of Mr. Chamberlain’s position and rights that they deserved punishment.

H[enry] L. S[timson]