851G.014/8: Telegram

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

158. Our 157, March 30, 9 p.m.19

The Japanese Government has just announced to the press that Spratley Islands, lying between Indo-China and the Philippine Islands, have been placed under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Taiwan. This step appears to be tantamount to annexation.
The French Ambassador was called to the Foreign Office this morning and informed of this step.
Announcements to the press by the spokesman of the Foreign Office that my British colleague and I were also to be summoned have been retracted and reissued with bewildering rapidity. It does not now appear that we are to be called.
Both Great Britain and France have claimed title to Spratley Islands but when Japan also laid claim the British withdrew in favor of the French while impressing on the French the importance of stoutly defending their title against the Japanese. The French Government recently offered to arbitrate the case but the Japanese Government refused, expressing intention to annex the Island on the basis of prior occupation by Japanese fishermen. My British colleague considers this a serious development because the Islands are of strategic importance as a post of observation of naval and aerial movements from Singapore.
The report is current but not substantiated that the Paracel Islands are also about to be occupied by Japanese forces.

Repeated to Hong Kong for Chungking.

  1. Not printed.