394.115 Panay/29: Telegram

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

624. My 623, December 13, 5 p.m.66

1. The press ban has been removed. The Foreign Office has just read to us over the telephone a statement to be released later this evening substantially as follows:

During operations by naval planes against Chinese forces fleeing from Nanking across the Yangtze from Nanking, 10 steamers believed to be Chinese transports were discovered about 20 miles upriver from Nanking and were bombed. It was later ascertained that among these steamers were three vessels belonging to the Standard Oil Company and the American gunboat Panay which was in the neighborhood and was sunk.

Although no official report had been received the Minister for Foreign Affairs67 called this afternoon on the American Ambassador and tendered the profound regrets and apologies of the Japanese Government. The Japanese Ambassador at Washington68 was immediately instructed to make a similar statement to the American Government. The Japanese Ambassador to China, the Consul General at Shanghai and the Chief of Staff of the Japanese Fleet have all been instructed to express their regrets respectively to the American authorities there.

2. The Navy Department is also issuing a similar statement tonight.

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3. The Foreign Office has let me know informally that a note may be expected tomorrow expressing regrets and readiness to offer full settlement.

4. We would appreciate receiving a telegraphic summary of American press reaction as despatches published in the Japanese press may be expected to be incomplete and tendentious.69

Repeated to Peiping for relay to Hankow.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Koki Hirota.
  3. Hirosi Saito.
  4. The Department duly complied with this request.