793.94/15136: Telegram

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

546. Reference my No. 541, June 27, noon.12 As the Japanese notification announced that military operations at Foochow and Wenchow would commence today, I have deemed it desirable to inform my Japanese colleague immediately of the American position as set out in [Page 788] previous instructions from the Department. I have therefore addressed him a letter under today’s date stating as follows:

“The statement of your naval authorities has been communicated to the appropriate officers of the American Government. An effort is also being made to communicate with the American citizens at Wenchow, in my Consular District, in order that they may take such precautions as may be possible for their safety.

I must inform you, however, that the notification of your naval authorities cannot be accepted as in any way relieving those authorities or the Japanese Government of full responsibility for any injury to American nationals or damage to American vessels or property.

American nationals and American property lawfully located in China possess certain well recognized rights which are in no way altered by the circumstances of the present conflict. American citizens at Foochow and Wenchow are under no obligation to withdraw from those places, and such withdrawal in any case might be found to be impossible. American property in areas which are made, or are about to be made, theatres of military operations can in most cases not be removed. This is obviously the case in regard to real property.

In order to safeguard American lives and interests precautionary measures were voluntarily advised by American Consular officers sometime ago. However, regardless of whether American nationals do or do not take such precautionary measures, the obligation rests upon the Japanese authorities to exert the utmost precaution to the end that American nationals and American property shall not be injured by Japanese military operations.”

Repeated to Chungking, Peiping and Foochow and to Tsingtao to inform Commander-in-Chief. Air mail Tokyo.

  1. Not printed; it reported in substance the same information given in telegram printed supra.