793.94/9835: Telegram

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

335. Department’s 182, August 30, 7 p.m.91 and 183, August 30, 8 p.m.,92 bombing operations in Nanking and elsewhere in China.

1. As the subject matter of the first telegram led naturally to that of the second I thought it advisable to deal with both at the same time and accordingly incorporated both representations in a single aide-mémoire93 which I read aloud and handed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in an interview at his residence this afternoon. I earnestly appealed to him on the basis of humanity as well as practical wisdom to take steps to avoid the serious risk of injuring Japanese-American relations which would inevitably occur if American citizens should be [Page 505] injured by the apparently indiscriminate bombing operations now being carried on by Japanese forces in various parts of China. These views were expressed with strong emphasis. I pointed out his responsibility for guiding the political relations of Japan which might be considered as paramount to military considerations. My appeal then went into the broad aspects of the situation from the humanitarian and other points of view.

2. The Minister replied that it was the intention of the Japanese forces in China to attack only military establishments but that mistakes were unfortunately inevitable. He said that he would bring my representations to the attention of the War and Navy Ministries.

I fear that the Foreign Office is practically impotent in the face of the Army and Navy at this time.

3. The British Chargé proposes to take similar action and to present an aide-mémoire or note to the Vice Minister.

4. With respect to the Department’s 182 my French and German colleagues have referred the matter to their respective Governments for instructions. My Italian colleague proposes to make oral representations only.

Repeated to Shanghai for relay to Nanking.

  1. This repeated telegram No. 561, August 30, 2 p.m., from the Ambassador in China, p. 496.
  2. Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 491.
  3. Ibid., p. 494.