793.94116/46: Telegram

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

356. My British colleague8 informs me that he has been instructed by his Government to concert with our French colleague and myself with a view to making parallel representations to the Japanese Government in protest against the recent allegedly indiscriminate bombing of Canton. The Minister for Foreign Affairs9 is absent from Tokyo at the Ise Shrine but Craigie feels that the matter is too urgent to await possible action by myself and he therefore proposes to make his own representations to the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs10 this afternoon. I told him that I had as yet received no instructions but would inform him immediately if such instructions should be received. He believes that the British Ambassador in Washington11 has already brought this matter to the attention of the Department. Craigie proposes to leave with the Vice Minister the following aide-mémoire:

Aide-mémoire.—The recent air raids made upon Canton by Japanese airplanes and the large number of civilian casualties caused thereby have attracted considerable notice in the United Kingdom.

According to official reports based on careful inquiry which have reached His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, the raids of the 28th, 29th and 30th of May resulted in death to some 450 persons and injury to over 1,000; out of 60 or more sites bombed during these 3 days not 10 were of military importance and it would appear that less than one-third of the bombs were directed at airdromes, industrial plants and fairly open country.

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In a statement issued to the press on the 1st June the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after claiming that the Japanese air squadrons had not attacked the civilian population for whose safety they were ever solicitous, suggested that any loss of civilian life had resulted from the aimless firing of Chinese anti-aircraft guns: that this was not so is shown by the fact that foreign doctors in Canton state that less than one percent of the wounds suffered as a result of the raids were from anti-aircraft shell fragments.

The fact that the great majority of the objectives struck by bombs were without justifiable military importance combined with the heavy death roll of civilians has aroused great feeling in the United Kingdom which cannot help but affect good relations between Great Britain and Japan. It is therefore the earnest hope of his Majesty’s Government that the Japanese Government will discontinue such indiscriminate bombing of Chinese towns.

At the same time His Majesty’s Government desire to enter a protest against the flight of Japanese airplanes over the British Concession at Shameen”.

Repeated to Shanghai for Hankow.

  1. Sir Robert L. Craigie, British Ambassador in Japan.
  2. Gen. Kazushige Ugaki.
  3. Kensuke Horinouchi.
  4. Sir Ronald C. Lindsay.