393.1123 Winterle/16: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China ( Lockhart ) to the Secretary of State

88. Embassy’s 61, October 15, noon. The Japanese Consul at Chefoo in a letter dated October 16 requested Paxton to express his personal regret over the incident. Paxton forwarded a copy of the letter to the Embassy, stating that it was by far the most courteously worded letter he had received from the Japanese Consul, although it contained certain unpleasantly worded passages. Paxton also forwarded for the Embassy’s approval the draft of a reply which he proposed to send to the Japanese Consul and which he stated although personal in tone and “really giving away nothing” might satisfy the apparent desire of his Japanese colleague for a feasible red tape escape from the unfortunate situation in which he now finds himself.

As a copy of Paxton’s despatch had been sent to Nanking I telegraphed Nanking as follows:

“October 21, 5 p.m. The Embassy is not entirely satisfied with Paxton’s draft reply to the Japanese Consul and believes that the following might be offered as substitute:

‘I have received your letter of October 16, 1935, concerning the Honda-Winterle affair which occurred in Chefoo early last month. In this connection I wish to inform you that, since the question of the responsibility of its origin has not been cleared up, I am, of course, unable to express my official regrets over the matter. I desire to add, however, that regardless of the question of responsibility, it is always a matter of personal regret to me when incidents occur which tend to mar the friendly relations between our nationals.

As I have already informed you I shall be pleased to request the American naval authorities to take measures to prevent the participation of naval personnel in any such unfortunate occurrences, and I hope that, on your part, you will endeavor to prevent actions by those under your control which might cause incidents’.

It is requested that you discuss the matter with the Ambassador as his approval should be obtained. It is possible that he may desire to obtain the Department’s views before Paxton is instructed.

Paxton has been informed of this reference”.

The following reply has now been received from Peck at Nanking:

“October 23, 3 p.m. Your October 21, 5 p.m. The Ambassador approves your substitute draft and directs that you suitably inform [Page 1097] Chefoo and at the same time report the Embassy’s action to the Department.”

I am sending mail instructions to Paxton with the text of the draft reply approved by the Ambassador.