393.115 Chase National Bank/10: Telegram

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

368. Your 681, October 24, 11 p.m.29

You state that the Foreign Office reviewed to the Embassy representations made by the Japanese Consul General at Shanghai to Gauss, that “the Japanese Government formally protests against such shipment as an unfriendly act and urgently requests the American Government to do what it can to stop the shipment”. The Counselor of the Japanese Embassy called at the Department on October 2430 and stated, as under instruction from his Government, that the Japanese Government would look upon such shipment at this time as an “unfriendly act”.
The simple and essential facts are that an American ship called at Shanghai; that an American bank at that place openly applied in the usual manner to the Chinese Customs for permits to ship the bullion and the permits were granted; that the Customs Administration issued clearance papers for the ship and on the basis of the Customs clearance the ship was cleared at the American Consulate General; that, because of numerous piracies at the mouth of the [Page 516] Yangtze River and of the possibility of interference with the valuable cargo, the commanding officer of the United States Marines at Shanghai furnished, upon request of the American shipper, a marine guard on the lighters carrying the bullion from the Customs jetty to the American ship; that after the ship had been granted clearance and after it had loaded its cargo, under export permits duly issued by the Customs, the Customs suspended the clearance; and that this action was at the instance or under the influence of the Japanese military authorities.
I request that you call in person on the Minister or Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and state that, in the light of numerous provisions of various treaties to which Japan and the United States are parties, and of the facts implicit in and attending the incident of the loading of the bullion on the S. S. President Coolidge at Shanghai, the detention of the ship, and the unloading of the bullion, your Government finds incomprehensible the formal protest by the Japanese Government and that Government’s reference in the course thereof to an “unfriendly act”. Please state that your Government does not perceive that any acts, either positive or negative, of any of its agencies or of any American nationals in connection with this incident was of a character which could rightfully be construed and characterized as “unfriendly acts”; that your Government considers that, if and in so far as there was in connection with that incident any action which might appropriately be characterized as an “unfriendly act” that action was action taken by agencies of the Japanese Government. And, state that your Government ratifies and reaffirms to the Japanese Government (a) the protest made by the American Consul General at Shanghai to the Japanese Consul General at that place against the interference of Japanese military and other authorities with the clearance, duly authorized by the Chinese Customs, of an American vessel and (b) the reservation made by the American Consul General of all American rights in connection with the matter and with the loss and damage sustained by American interests in consequence of the action of the Japanese authorities.
Please leave with the Minister or Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs an informal memorandum as record of what you state orally. This memorandum should follow closely the language used in paragraph 3 above.

Repeated to Chungking.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Memorandum of conversation not printed.