The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 25—9:55 a.m.]
277. Joint Commission appointed under article 4 of the agreement of May 5, 1932,75 covering cessation of hostilities at Shanghai was requested by Japanese in June 1932 to decide whether previously unnotified movement of Chinese troops by rail through the Markham Road junction on the Shanghai-Nanking Railway was contrary to article 2 of the agreement.
On June 13th neutral members of the Joint Commission made following decision in reference to movements of troops in Shanghai area:
“The unanimous decision of the neutral members of the Joint [Page 252] Commission oh the matter brought before them is that article 2 of the May 5th agreement provides an area within which there shall be no movement of Chinese troops, that area being defined in annex 1 of the agreement referred to. Outside that area there shall be no hostile movement (by either the Chinese or the Japanese side) in the vicinity of Shanghai. In the event any doubt arises the situation in this respect will be ascertained by the neutral members of the Commission.”
On February 7th the Chinese moved several hundred troops from Soochow to Chekiang Province through Markham Road junction on the Shanghai-Nanking Railway at Shanghai. Japanese Consul General thereupon made verbal protest to Mr. Yui, Chinese member of the Joint Commission and after many conversations between the two Yui orally agreed to notify Japanese Consul General or the chairman of the Joint Commission whenever Chinese troops were to be moved through the area. Japanese Consul General communicated this undertaking to his Government and the latter replied that it would not accept verbal assurances of this nature but must insist on written assurances. Chinese member of the Commission insists that movement of Chinese troops through Markham Road junction does not come within scope of the agreement of May 5th. Matter is thus deadlocked between Japanese and Chinese members of the Commission.
Japanese Consul General on March 8 complained of further unnotified passage of Chinese troop on February 7th of this year. Chinese expressed willingness to give oral notification of such intended passages of troops in future but have maintained that May 5th agreement was not intended to prevent normal transit Chinese troops by rail and have refused to give notice of such movements in writing. I and my British and French colleagues are in general agreement with Chinese position, for agreement was never intended to prevent normal transit of Chinese troops by that railway.
On March 14th Japanese Consul General at Shanghai informed Cunningham that he believed he might find it necessary very soon to ask the neutral members of the Commission to reaffirm decision of June 13th last. British, American and French Consuls General have requested our instructions as to what attitude they should take should Commission be called upon by Japanese as indicated. British Consul General offered following formula:
“The decision rendered by the Joint Commission on June 13, 1932, regarding article 2 of the agreement is still considered to be the only practical interpretation of the wording of that article. Nevertheless, the neutral members of the Commission feel that the spirit of the agreement was to prevent hostile action against the Japanese troops.
In view of the improved conditions in this area the neutral members of the Commission do not consider that article 2 should any [Page 253] longer be invoked to prevent the movement of Chinese troops along the railway to other parts of China unless there is definite evidence that such troop movements are hostile to the Japanese in the sense intended by article 1.”
As a result of discussion today with my British and French colleagues I have sent following instruction to Cunningham:
“March 25, 3 p.m. Your despatch No. 7491 dated March 1776 regarding Joint Commission. British Minister, French Minister and I are in agreement with views expressed by you in penultimate paragraph.
It would be my personal hope, and I believe this hope shared by my colleagues, that Joint Commission should not be faced with the necessity to make decision but if question is put before the Commission we are agreed that Commission shall limit itself to the following statement or decision which is an amendment of paragraph 2 of draft offered by Brenan77 enclosed with your despatch under acknowledgment:
‘The neutral members of the Commission do not consider that article 2 should now be invoked to prevent the normal transit of Chinese troops by the railway to other parts of China unless there is definite evidence that such troop movements are locally hostile to the Japanese in the sense intended by article 1’.
You will note that we have omitted entirely paragraph 1 of Brenan’s draft which refers to the previous decision. Please keep me telegraphically informed. I am telegraphing Department of this action.”
British and French Ministers are similarly instructing their Consulates General.
- Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 217.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Sir John Brenan, British Consul General at Shanghai.↩