The Department of State to the Japanese Embassy23

The memorandum handed by the Japanese Ambassador to Mr. Hornbeck on June 28 has been read with care.

It is noted that the account of the facts as given in the memorandum under reference differs in several particulars from the account given the Department by authorities at Honolulu.

It is possible that differences of language and customs leading to misunderstanding of motives and actions have been factors in the incident, and, with a view to being helpful toward preventing there [Page 811] arising similar troublesome incidents in the future, comment is offered as follows:

The Pier under reference is a United States Navy Pier, and it must be assumed that officials of foreign governments who proceed to such a Pier are aware of that fact. It must be assumed also that officials of foreign governments who are present on a United States Naval Reservation are cognizant of the fact that primary jurisdiction in regard to what may occur on said Naval Reservation to the dissatisfaction of visitors rests with the appropriate United States Naval Authorities, especially those on the Reservation.
It must be assumed that foreign officials stationed in American territory are aware of the fact that in this country the taking of photographs, except in certain special areas or places, is subject to very little restriction and that our people when taking photographs are not accustomed to being interrogated with regard to their motives. Such interrogations, if and when there is occasion for them, are usually made by police officers or other persons in whom there resides some special authority to make them.
A foreigner or group of foreigners present on or near a Naval or Military Reservation should realize that any action in which they may there engage should be scrupulously circumspect.
Without going beyond the statements made in the memorandum under reference, it is clear that various of the acts of the Consul General and his party were of such a character as to invite criticism by the authorities at Honolulu and the calling of the incident in all friendliness by the Department to the attention of the Japanese Ambassador.
Conformity with custom and with the appropriate procedures is expected of officials of foreign governments who are present on any territory of the United States and is especially desirable on or near Naval Reservations and Military Reservations.

  1. Handed to the Japanese Ambassador on July 12 by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs “as a record of an informal oral statement”.