The Department of State to the British Embassy


Reference is made to the British Embassy’s aide-mémoire of October 20, 1938, in regard to an approach made to the British Government by the Chinese Ambassador at London.

With regard to the reference in the aide-mémoire to this Government’s attitude toward the sale of airplanes and to the action of the Department of Commerce in discouraging credits, the facts are as follows:

On June 11 the Secretary of State made a statement definitely condemning the bombing of civilian populations from the air. The Department of State has brought that statement to the attention of manufacturers and exporters of airplanes or aeronautical equipment and has informed those manufacturers and exporters that this Government is strongly opposed to the sale of airplanes or aeronautical equipment which would materially aid or encourage the bombing of civilian populations from the air in any countries in any part of the world and that the Department would with great regret issue any licenses authorizing exportation, direct or indirect, of any aircraft, aircraft armament, aircraft engines, aircraft parts, aircraft accessories, aerial bombs or torpedoes to countries the armed forces of which are making use of airplanes for attack upon civilian populations.

[Page 626]

In June last the Department of Commerce issued a circular to its district offices in which the belief was expressed that, in view of the increasing severity with which exchange restrictions in Japan were being enforced, it appeared advisable that exporters in the United States should have a confirmed irrevocable letter of credit in their hands before accepting orders for shipments to Japan.

With regard to the general attitude of this Government toward the present conflict in the Far East, this Government has, since the commencement of that conflict, consistently supported in appropriate and practicable ways principles of policy and objectives which it believes should be controlling in relations between states, and it is continuing to give study to appropriate ways and means calculated to obtain respect for and observance of those principles and objectives.

It is assumed that the British Government will inform this Government as to steps likely to be of interest to this Government which the British Government has taken or may have under contemplation in the directions mentioned in the British Embassy’s aide-mémoire of October 20.