793.94112/252: Telegram

The Consul General at Shanghai (Gauss) to the Secretary of State

451. At Japanese press conference on May 29 Japanese naval spokesman is reported to have intimated that in all probability no more foreign vessels would be stopped and boarded unless they “looked suspicious”. The spokesman is further reported to have linked up recent Japanese boarding of foreign ocean liners, including one German vessel, with the alleged abuse of foreign flags and Japanese here [Page 785]are reported to have officially complained to the French Embassy office here regarding alleged instances in which the French flag was misused. Similar complaints are to be made to the British and American authorities the spokesman is reported to have said.

At the same conference it was announced that effective June 1st five small ports in the Yangtze delta, one in Chekiang and three in Fukien would be closed to shipping and that the Shanghai customs would not issue clearance papers for these ports. The spokesman denied that this was a blockade but stated these ports had been closed to prevent supplies reaching Chinese guerrillas. It is learned from the British Consulate General here that on instructions issued by the Japanese Deputy Commissioner but without the authorization of the British Commissioner of Customs, clearance papers have been refused to a British vessel to proceed from Shanghai to one of the Yangtze delta ports closed by the Japanese. British authorities are reporting the matter to London.

Repeated to Chungking, Peiping. Air mail to Tokyo.