393.115 Standard Vacuum Oil Co./87

The Chargé in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State

No. 1887

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s despatch No. 1761 of October 31, 1938,71 in regard to the refusal of the Japanese authorities to permit the discharge of bulk gasolene and kerosene at Tsingtao by the Standard-Vacuum Oil Corporation, in connection with which a third person note, dated October 28, 1938,71 was left at the Japanese Embassy, and to transmit herewith, for the information of the Department, a copy of the reply of the Japanese Embassy, dated January 11, 1939,71 to the representations made in the Embassy’s note.

The Department will observe that the Japanese authorities maintain that the present situation is such as not to permit the vessels of third Powers using the main harbor “for some time”, thus definitely rejecting the request of this Embassy that steps be taken to restore the freedom of the American company to pursue its legitimate trade in China. Furthermore, the Department will observe that, although the Japanese authorities reiterate that “the interests of the third Powers shall be respected”, such assurance is qualified by the phrase “as circumstances permit”.

The last sentence of the Japanese reply is of additional interest in that it states that the Japanese navy has imposed no special restrictions upon the free passage of American vessels in open ports where no naval or military operations took place, apparently assuming thereby that a mere statement by the Japanese of the existence of military or naval operations is sufficient to warrant the exclusion of legitimate American commerce.

Respectfully yours,

For the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim:
Frank P. Lockhart

Counselor of Embassy
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