793.94/12049: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

23. My 1, January 1, 10 p.m. In a conversation which Peck27 had with Hsu Mo recently, latter stated that a reply might be communicated to the Japanese Government through the German Ambassador within 2 or 3 days. So far as I know this has not been done. Vice Minister stated that it would be impossible for the Chinese Government to accept these terms or to surrender to the Japanese Government in any way; that Generalissimo was firm in his determination that China should continue resistance; that if Chinese Government were to consent to terms dictated by Japan chaos would result as country would not support the Government. Vice Minister stated that all important persons and sections of Chinese Government were firm in their belief that China had no choice but to resist Japan as long as possible. They believed that the farther that the Japanese forces advanced into the interior of China the more effective would [Page 13] China’s resistance become. He stated that Chinese Government still cherished expectation that if resistance was continued long enough and if Japanese disruption of American and British interests extended to all parts of the country, the United States and Great Britain would finally take joint action to restrain Japan’s lawless acts. Peck endeavored to disabuse Hsu Mo of any such expectation as regards future policy of the United States, but although Hsu Mo stated that he personally realized this, it is doubtful whether he really has given up any such hopes.

In a personal message to me Admiral Yarnell has suggested that the time may be ripe, in view of the terms reported in my telegram above mentioned, for the principally interested powers, taking note of the published accounts of such terms, to issue to the Japanese a warning that they would not recognize a settlement in violation of the provisions of the Nine Power Treaty,28 thus establishing a basis for concerted action if that were later considered necessary. I desire to pass this suggestion on thus confidentially as one in which I would be inclined to concur.
Entire situation is complicated for me, however, by the fact that I cannot escape the conviction that, whatever statements may emanate from official Tokyo as to Japanese intentions on the mainland, the Japanese military represented by General Matsui and his young officers at Shanghai, and Admiral Suetsugu, newly appointed Japanese Home Minister at Tokyo, intend to pursue in China, as evidenced by ultimatum served upon the Municipal Council of the International Settlement of Shanghai (reported in Shanghai’s 15, January 5, 9 a.m.29) and the Admiral’s recently published explanation of reasons for anti-British feeling in Japan, a policy aimed at eliminating occidental influence and interests from China. I am even convinced that the action of Japanese soldiers at Nanking who carried out mass executions of Chinese soldiers that had given up their arms to certain foreigners of the committee which organized the safety zone for noncombatants, was partly motivated by a desire to convince the Chinese that they must not depend upon white intervention in their opinions. We appear to face a group of young Japanese ronin who tolerate no control from Tokyo and who will be found to be recklessly contemptuous of any adverse effect which their actions in China may have upon Japan’s relations with Western Powers, in the belief that the rest of the world is not prepared to do more than register a protest against violation of treaties relating to the Far East and to the rights and interests of third powers.
  1. Willys R. Peck, Counselor of Embassy in China.
  2. Sighed at Washington, February 6, 1922, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 276.
  3. Vol. iv, p. 116.