The Department of State to the British Embassy


The Government of the United States appreciates receiving the detailed information contained in the British Embassy’s aide-mémoire [Page 800] of December 26, 1939, in regard to the question of reopening to navigation the Yangtze River from Nanking downwards.

On December 18, 1939, the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs informed the American Ambassador to Japan29 that it was the intention of the Japanese Government to open the Yangtze River to general navigation as far as Nanking within about two months’ time. The Minister stated that, for the time being, certain restrictions would probably have to be imposed on such navigation owing to military operations. He indicated that the delay involved was due to the need for certain military adjustments and to the necessity for consultation with various powers. He did not, however, propose discussions along the detailed lines indicated in the British Embassy’s aide-mémoire.

The Government of the United States shares the view of the British Government that any conversations that may be required should not be enlarged into the negotiation of any formal agreement. This Government considers that for its part any needed conversations should be restricted to necessary practical arrangements concerning subjects such as the handing over of hulks, et cetera, and should not involve any question of curtailment of any of its rights or of the rights of its nationals.

  1. See telegram No. 687, December 18, 10 p.m., from the Ambassador in Japan, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, p. 48.