The Consul General at Tientsin ( Caldwell ) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 9—12:06 p.m.]
22. At Consular Corps meeting of August 7th Japanese Consul General made it clear that the Japanese military authorities consider it necessary to establish censorship of mails and telegraph communications in and out of Tientsin regardless of the fact that the telegraph office is in the French Concession and the post office is not functioning in the British Concession. French Consul and British Consul General state that they would not permit Japanese to function in their Concessions. French Consul suggested that negotiations be undertaken for an international censorship, concerning which British Consul General and Italian Consul neither objected nor concurred and regarding which no action was taken.
The British, French and Italian consular officials repeatedly expressed the hope that the Japanese military would not use force in the foreign Concessions but would negotiate regarding such matters as censorship. British Consul General and French Consul stated that against force they would use force and that if an employee of any administration in their Concessions were mistreated he would be protected by police and military if necessary.
The Bolivian Dean of Consular Body received from the Japanese Consul General an unsigned memorandum which is being telegraphed en clair. 45
At meeting of Consular Body this afternoon Japanese Consul General stated that he had understood the joint censorship was acceptable to other consular officials and that with after some 6 hours talk he had succeeded in persuading Japanese military to accept it; the memorandum was not intended to be an ultimatum; the Japanese military had agreed to the wishes of the Consular Body not to use force in the Concessions but to have joint censorship which must go into effect at once owing to the emergency of the military situation; that these were the Japanese military’s last terms and that he could not ask them to reconsider or even postpone action until instructions could be received from the Embassies unless assured that the consular officers agreed to joint censorship and would ask their respective Embassies for instructions to put it into effect. This should be promised by anyone. As the Japanese Consul General in reply to questions did not withdraw any essential part of the memorandum and referred only to what he thought might have been unfortunate wording his statements really did not alter the situation.[Page 252]
The British Consul General and French Consul said that if plainclothesmen referred to in the memorandum appeared at offices in their Concessions they would be denied admission and prevented entering by police and military force if necessary pending instructions from the British and French Embassies which are being requested at once.
Japanese Consul General was urged to make every effort to have Japanese military postpone action threatened for tomorrow or at least to take action only of surrounding [omission?] and not in the Concessions. It is certain, of course, that Concessions can be isolated by the Japanese military and mail stopped between station or Taku and Concessions.
Japanese military have taken over central post office in third special area and seized part of the safes. Keys to the most important safes were demanded from Commissioner Caretti who asked Consular Body to take custody of them until he could get instructions from Nanking; this was refused and Commissioner today notified Consular Body the keys had been placed in foreign bank pending instructions from Nanking. I do not know which bank has accepted the keys.
- See supra.↩