393.1123 Winterle/4: Telegram

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

9. Department’s 3, September 23, 11 a.m.

I anticipated that Chefoo’s despatches of September 17 and 18 would arrive in a day or two and wished to be in possession of all the facts before recommending the lodging of a complaint against the Japanese policeman. It seemed to me however that a routine inquiry would tend to quiet the excitement.
Paxton’s despatches have now arrived and they show: (1) that Winterle and his wife on the morning of September 4th reported to Paxton an attack made by Japanese on the woman the previous evening and that the matter was immediately reported by Paxton to the Japanese Consulate which replied that the case was under its investigation; (2) that friendly discussions of the case took place between officers of the Japanese and American Consulates on September 9, 11, 14 and 16, in a sincere effort to ascertain the actual facts; (3) that while the Japanese contend that the friction originally arose from an alleged attack by Mrs. Winterle in a cabaret on Honda while the latter was drunk the unexpected letter of September 18 from the Japanese Consul to Paxton laid most emphasis on a reported later attack on Honda and stated that the Consul’s investigations proved that “many American citizens and Navy men supported Mr. and Mrs. Winterle and surrounded Mr. Honda and other two Japanese to conduct violence to them in such a way as to beat, smash and kick by beer bottles, their hands and feet”; (4) that in the conversations mentioned above the testimony against Honda was brought to the attention of the Japanese Consulate but the latter discounted the evidence while admitting that a quarrel between Honda and Mrs. Winterle caused the enlarged conflict later; (5) that Paxton told the Japanese Consulate on September 14 that if charges were filed against Honda it would have to be done “in the Japanese Consular Court and so far as was known no American [Page 1091] citizen contemplated bringing any charges against him, Winterle, the American chiefly concerned, having assured the American Consul that he no longer held any grudge against Honda and would institute no further action against him either on his wife’s account or on his own”; and (6) that the whole incident involves stories of barroom brawls followed by actual or planned revenge by Japanese and American gangs.
These despatches incline me to believe that the truth at the bottom of these quarrels will never develop and that the best hope of quashing the incident lies in the hearing which presumably will be held in the Consular Court at Chefoo on the morning of September 25, (see Paxton’s telegram of September 21, 4 p.m.).
Repeated to Peiping and Chefoo with Department’s telegram No. 3, September 23, 11 a.m.