703.04/5677: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

2. My No. 1, January 3, 7 p.m.7 Peiping’s No. 5, January 3, 5 p.m. Referring to the incident of January 2 at Shanhaikwan, Japanese War Office stated to Military Attaché:

“On January 1st local Chinese commander agreed that Japanese outposts could occupy certain important positions to enable them to give better protection from bandits to certain vital points; on January 2 when troops moved to position agreed upon they were fired on by Chinese regulars; Japanese returned this fire; Japanese casualties five; Japanese former garrison at Shanhaikwan of two companies has been increased; orders to stand by have been issued to no Japanese divisions; Second Division now in Korea en route Sendai continues its movement; following movements of Chinese troops taking place on December 31, Third, Sixteenth and Nineteenth Brigades into Jehol Province and toward Shanhaikwan Ninth Brigade and Sixty-third Cavalry Brigade; no aggressive action will be taken by Japanese Army unless forced into it by Chinese, in which case portions of Nineteenth and Twentieth Divisions and Marines will probably be used”.

While the last clause of the foregoing official statement may reflect military opinion here at the moment, the military situation in Manchuria is so largely in the hands of General Muto8 and his advisers that I hesitate to predict developments. The Shanhaikwan affair may be a sporadic incident. On the other hand it may be a carefully calculated step prepared by the Japanese to afford a pretext for an advance into Jehol. As soon as the Russo-Chinese rapprochement took place the likelihood of such a movement increased. There are various military hypotheses for such a movement which the Military Attaché has discussed in his reports to the War Department. For the present the Embassy is not disposed to accept either the Japanese or Chinese version of the Shanhaikwan affair at its face value until more conclusive evidence regarding the incident and the future intentions of the Japanese Army is forthcoming.

Repeated to Peiping.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Gen. Nobuyoshi Muto, Japanese Ambassador to “Manchoukuo”; commander In chief, Kwantung Army.