893.48/1605: Telegram

The Consul General at Hankow (Josselyn) to the Secretary of State

I have received the following communication from the Refugee Zone Committee with the request that it be transmitted to the Japanese authorities:

“A Committee composed of American, British, French, German, and Italian nationals has been working for some time on a plan for refugee zones in Hankow and Wuchang respectively. The proposed refugee zones would comprise (a) at Hankow the area bounded on the east by the Yangtze River, on the west by the Peiping–Hankow Railway, on the south by the Kianghan Road and on the north by the Japanese concession and a line extending westward from it to but not including the Peiping–Hankow Railway. The French Concession and special administrative district number 3 being excluded from the proposed zone, so far as administration is concerned, although geographically they are within the area. (b) At Wuchang the area included between the old Tsao Hu Men and the small East Gate, following the line of the City Wall; the west boundary to be Tsao Hu Men Kai, Fu Kai and Huen Kai to San Tao Kai; the south boundary to be San Tao Kai, the rear of the old Fu Tai Yamen and then extending out to Ya Li Chu Kai. Maps of Hankow and Wuchang showing the proposed refugee zones will be forwarded for transmission to the Japanese authorities.

The proposed zones consist largely and indeed predominately of foreign owned property, the inviolability of which is admitted and it is hoped that this will facilitate the present efforts. It is realized that the approval of refugee zones must be dependent upon their complete demilitarization. The Committee have received provisional assurances from the Chinese side that their approval would be accompanied by compliance with this basic condition and the Committee would naturally only put their scheme into operation if and when this compliance has been made effective.

Steps would be taken effectually to isolate the refugee zones from adjoining non-demilitarized areas, and it is likely that the administrative bodies thereof would consist of this Committee or its nominees.

The Committee understands a refugee zone to be an area which having been previously demilitarized shall prior to the occupation of the city be immune from bombing or shelling or any other form of attack; which during an entry into or assault on the city shall remain outside the scope of military operations; and which, after occupation of the city, may be entered and subsequently controlled solely by military police acting under regular authority.

The maintenance of an adequate police force being essential for the proper administration of the zones, the immunity of its members in common with that of the Chinese populace in the zones in general must be assured.

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The Committee request that the Japanese Government and the Japanese military and naval authorities will be good enough to accept the scheme above outlined.

(Signed) A. A. Gilman, Chairman Refugee Zone Committee.”

The members of the Committee are Bishop Gilman and Bishop Espelage, Americans; Bishop Galvin, Reverend A. J. Gedye, Mr. W. H. Dupree and Mr. R. Marker, British; Bishop Massi, Italian; Mr. E. A. Chaudoin, French; and Mr. G. Tolle, German.

Please deliver copies of this message to the diplomatic or consular representatives in Shanghai of Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Hankow consular representatives are telegraphing separately to their representatives in Shanghai.

Maps showing proposed zones in Hankow and Wuchang being forwarded today.

Sent to Shanghai, Shanghai please inform Tokyo.