Memorandum by the Consul General at Shanghai (Cunningham)95
I called on Mr. Ishii (Japanese Consul General) and inquired whether there was any new development concerning the payment of the claims which we had filed with him to cover losses by Americans during the Sino-Japanese conflict last year. I reminded Mr. Ishii that the last conversation I had with him resulted in his stating that the matter had been referred to his Government and he had asked for a little delay in making a definite reply to this Consulate General’s letter making the claim.
Mr. Ishii replied that he had heard from his Government and that the claims had all been forwarded to Tokyo and would be considered in the very near future—in fact, on August 15th. I asked him if he had any indications as to what the policy of his Government would be. He replied that he would issue a statement within two or three days setting forth the policy of his Government. I did not press him for an advance copy of his statement because I did not [Page 375] consider, from his verbal reply, that he was prepared to furnish such, nor did I see any particular advantage by gaining a copy in advance.
Mr. Ishii said he did not believe that we would get very much. That the claimants would probably get something, but a very small amount. I stated that if they were entitled to anything, then it would seem that they should receive full compensation for the losses they had sustained. Mr. Ishii then stated that the payments were not in the nature of an indemnity. If we wanted to secure an indemnity this must be handled diplomatically and should be presented by the American authorities to the Tokyo Foreign Office. I expressed the feeling that this was but natural as the claims were presented to him as a local official in the hope that the settlement of the claims would be expedited, and not as diplomatic claims; it is not regarded that they were presented in a diplomatic manner in Shanghai and it was in the hope that we might avoid presenting them diplomatically that they were presented to Mr. Ishii.
I have a feeling that the Japanese are going to make a tender of a very small amount; comparatively small percentage of each claim, hoping that it will be accepted rather than suffer the delay of a long-drawn-out diplomatic negotiation. The Japanese would, in this manner, secure the benefit of whatever impression that might be created in the world’s public opinion that they were willing to pay for losses that they had incurred and at the same time avoid the possible claim of the American Government on behalf of Americans who suffered losses in the Sino-Japanese conflict. I am not at all encouraged as to receiving an adequate offer of payment but will look forward with a great deal of interest to the statement that Mr. Ishii promises “within 2 or 3 days.”96
- Copy of this memorandum (together with despatch No. 7629, July 20, to the Minister in China) was transmitted to the Department by the Consul General at Shanghai without covering despatch; received September 1.↩
- No Japanese offer was forthcoming until March 1934 (see telegram No. 118, March 22, 1934, 4 p.m., from the Consul General at Shanghai: filed under 493.11 Shanghai/60).↩