793.94/9730: Telegram

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

322. Senior Aide to Navy Minister stated this afternoon to Naval Attaché as follows:

Question. What was meant when you stated “blockade aims principally at destroying the fighting power of the Chinese and will not unnecessarily seize Chinese vessels and confiscate the cargoes aboard them” and “Japanese will duly respect peaceful commerce being carried on by the third powers and will never interfere with it”.

Answer. The purpose of the blockade is to prevent war supplies getting to the Chinese forces. As no war exists Japan will not interfere with the commerce of any nation other than China. Interference with Chinese trade only to the extent of confiscating war supplies on Chinese ships. By “peaceful commerce of third powers” is meant ordinary commerce which now might include cargo of a warlike nature.

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A hypothetical question was asked as to what would happen to a Canadian Pacific or Dollar Line vessel bound for Shanghai with war material known to be destined for Chinese forces. The answer was “No interference would be made with that vessel”. When asked as to the “status of Chinese vessels owned wholly or in part by third party”, the answer was “war supplies, if on board would be confiscated, vessel and remainder of cargo would be subsequently freed”.

Armies in Shanghai are consolidating positions while awaiting the arrival of supplies such as ammunition and, probably, artillery. Army transports were said to be used for this purpose. No offensive has been undertaken as yet, except as necessary to gain and maintain positions. Combined fleet has retired. They have had their inning and will undoubtedly not be used for this purpose again. No army aircraft are operating in Shanghai area yet, fields in that vicinity not having been completely prepared. When asked whether the army expected to move against Hangchow, the reply was that such was a general staff matter. When asked at [as to?] the purpose of landing troops in Hangchow Bay, Senior Aide stated landing there was only a rumor.

Situation in Tsingtao quiet, has not changed in the last 48 hours. Japanese nationals, however, are being evacuated.

Repeated to Shanghai for relay to Nanking.