741.94/217: Telegram

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

701. My British colleague has handed me a copy of a letter dated October 31, addressed by him to the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs,81 of which the following is a summary:

The British Ambassador points out that the British Parliament would meet on November 1, and that he considers it of great importance to the future of Anglo-Japanese relations that something should be done at once to meet the British on at least some of the cases outstanding. He says that the Foreign Office has asked him urgently to report on the situation in view of the fact that when Parliament meets the Ministers expect to be questioned closely in regard to the fulfillment by the Japanese of the assurances so frequently given in regard to the protection of British rights and interests in China.

The Ambassador states that with the best will in the world, he is unable to return any other reply than that the Japanese Government has failed so far to meet the British desiderata in any single instance of importance. Referring to the fact that the Foreign Office has a full list of cases in which a number have been injured, and to the list of five points submitted to General Ugaki on July 26 last,82 the British Ambassador points out that in spite of all his efforts to impress the Japanese Government with the importance of these issues, the British have in fact received no satisfaction whatever. He admits that in a number of relatively minor cases (a list of which he encloses) British property has been repaired and certain facilities given but he characterizes these as “a mere islet in an ocean of discriminatory or unfair treatment”.

Sir Robert then refers to the fact that the hope has been expressed by General Ugaki and Mr. Horinouchi83—particularly as regards navigation on the Yangtze—that the situation would be eased by the fall of Hankow and inquires whether there is not a case here where it should be possible for the Japanese Government to give immediate satisfaction by opening up the river at least as far as Nanking. He is seriously apprehensive as to the effect upon future Anglo-Japanese relations if satisfaction is not given on this point at the earliest possible moment.

The British Ambassador deprecates the thought that he is threatening the Japanese Government with statements in Parliament in order [Page 360] to secure British desiderata; on the contrary he feels sure that the British Government will make every effort to mitigate the effects of any official statements that may be made; but the facts cannot be concealed from Parliament when questions of importance are asked. He therefore repeats with the utmost emphasis that something concrete should be done by the Japanese Government to enable the British Government to say in Parliament that a satisfactory settlement has been reached on this or that important issue.

In conclusion he states that he is holding up his reply to his Foreign Office until he hears from the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and he wishes to know whether the Vice-Minister believes there is any prospect of giving early satisfaction at least on the Yangtze navigation issue.

Enclosed with the letter is a list of 10 minor cases where the Japanese have evacuated British property and seven other cases which have been settled involving the seizure of launches, [assault?] cases, et cetera.

Repeated to Chungking.

  1. Renzo Sawada.
  2. See telegram No. 494, July 27, 3 p.m., from the Ambassador in Japan, p. 239.
  3. Formerly Japanese Minister and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, respectively.