793.94/9366: Telegram

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

269. 1. The British Chargé d’Affaires8 again called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs9 today and under instructions from his Government presented a further communication, the text of which I append. Dodds took the responsibility of considerably moderating the text of his instructions which included such terms as “preposterous” and “glaring” with reference to Japanese action in Shanghai.

2. At first Dodds considered an approach to the four concerned Ambassadors here to support his step but finally decided to omit the Italian and German and to communicate only with the French Ambassador and myself. In his letters to us he expressed the hope that we would be prepared to support the representations which he has made.

3. The French Ambassador tells me that he will reply to Dodds immediately to the effect that he believes the proposed step too late to be effective but that he will refer the matter to his Government and will await instructions. He believes that these instructions will be negative.

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4. I told Dodds orally that I am not prepared to take further action unless so instructed by my Government.

[Text:] “14th August 1937. My Dear Minister: I have this morning received a most immediate telegram from my Government regarding the reports which have reached them of fighting in the Hongkew district of Shanghai.

His Majesty’s Ambassador at Nanking and I are instructed to impress upon the Governments to which we are accredited once more in the strongest terms the importance of avoiding hostilities in Shanghai. Both the Japanese and Chinese Governments are under the strongest moral obligation to refrain from any action likely to lead, whether through their own immediate fault or that of the other party, to such hostilities and to the incalculable danger which will ensue to the many thousands of foreigners in no way concerned. Not only contact between the troops of the opposing parties but their presence in that area must be recognized as constituting a naked flame in a powder magazine and the responsibility cannot be avoided by argument as to who started firing or what technical right exists to have troops on the spot. Both sides will be responsible for the disastrous results which cannot humanly speaking be avoided if their present attitude is maintained. To the impartial onlooker that attitude is the one most certainly leading to the very trouble which each side profess to wish to avoid. No word can alter this fact and His Majesty’s Government must appeal to both the Japanese and Chinese Governments with the utmost insistence to make their deeds conform to their assurances. I am instructed to point out to Your Excellency that His Majesty’s Government find it difficult to reconcile the assurances of Your Excellency’s Government that they are most anxious not to imperil Shanghai with the measure recently taken because two members of their landing party have been killed far outside the city boundary. I am to appeal to Your Excellency for the sake of the good name of Japan and in the interests of humanity to undertake that every effort will be made to avoid not only a recurrence of such incidents but exaggerated measures if and when they do occur and in general such disposition and use of their forces. Under this heading certainly comes the use of the International Settlement as a base in any form such as would lead to Chinese counter measures. It is to be hoped that Your Excellency’s Government will, on the contrary, take every possible measure to prove to the Chinese that serious action is not intended in Shanghai.

Believe me, My Dear Minister, Yours very sincerely, J. L. Dodds”.

Repeated to Nanking.

  1. J. L. Dodds.
  2. Koki Hirota.