811.3362i/9a: Telegram

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

75. 1. Each year for the past several years the Japanese Government has requested that this Government extend facilities in American territorial waters off the coast of Alaska to two Japanese public vessels and permit the entry of these vessels into harbors in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands50 that are ordinarily not open to foreign commerce. It was stated in the case of one of these vessels that its purpose in visiting these harbors and waters was to make studies in connection with the protection of fur bearing seals, but in the case of the other vessel it was not suggested that the visits would be made upon the basis of any treaty or formal arrangement between the United States and Japan. This Government has nevertheless acceded to the requests of the Japanese Government in this regard.

2. For some time past there has been a strong undercurrent of conjecture and suspicion regarding harbor developments or fortifications of the Pacific possessions of both the United States and Japan. The American Government has interposed no objection to the visits of Japanese public vessels to territorial waters and closed harbors of Alaska, in the belief that opportunities thus offered for observation by the Japanese vessels would operate to remove any suspicion which might be held by the Japanese Government that there have been carried out any improvements of such character as would do violence to the spirit or letter of the Washington Naval Treaty.51

3. We consider it unfortunate that the Japanese Government has not thus far adopted a similarly liberal attitude in the face of allegations that there are being carried out in the Japanese Mandated Islands52 various improvements which cannot be reconciled with Japan’s treaty obligations to refrain from fortifying such Islands. The reluctance of the Japanese Government to give any countenance to irresponsible allegations is understandable, nevertheless we assume that the Japanese Government shares with the American Government the view that persistence of suspicion in this regard promotes mutual distrust and that such suspicion should, therefore, be removed.

4. The Navy Department plans shortly to despatch the destroyer Alden to the Asiatic station. An opportunity will thus be presented [Page 985] for the Japanese Government to extend to a public vessel of the United States courtesies at the larger unopened ports of the Mandated Islands, as well as at the open ports, and it is our opinion that an invitation by the Japanese Government to the Alden to visit such ports would have results highly beneficial from the point of view of relations between the United States and Japan.

5. Please give our views as above outlined your careful and attentive consideration. If you perceive no objection, please be so good as to present these views orally and informally to the Minister for Foreign Affairs53 and as on your own initiative put forward the suggestion outlined in paragraph 4 above.

6. Please keep the Department currently informed by telegraph.

  1. See ibid., 1933, vol. iii, pp. 753 ff.
  2. Signed February 6, 1922, ibid., 1922, vol. i, p. 247.
  3. For Japan’s attitude toward this subject, see ibid., 1933, vol. iii, pp. 748 ff.
  4. Hachiro Arita.