893.102 Tientsin/243: Telegram

The Consul General at Tientsin (Caldwell) to the Secretary of State

85. My 83, June 7, 10 p.m.60 The Japanese Consul General called on me today to give me the Japanese version of the present situation (which is as already reported) and to state that the Japanese military have decided to impose restrictions on the British Concession (and unavoidably on the French Concession as well) as soon as the necessary preparations can be made, probably about June 15; that these restrictions will consist of stringent searches of not only persons (especially British and Chinese) but cargo as well; and that theoretically there will not be a blockade of the Concessions, though he added that the enforcement of the restrictions may easily result in a practical blockade. He did not seem very clear as to what it is that is to be searched for but said after a little hesitation that it would be a search for arms. I received the impression that the purpose of the search is not primarily the detection of any concrete objects.

The Japanese Consul General again expressed regret that these restrictions must unavoidably cause inconvenience to non-British persons and interests, particularly Americans, Germans and French, remarking that the Japanese relations with the French are now very satisfactory. He stated that efforts had been made to find a plan that would affect only British individuals and interests, but that the restrictions referred to were the only method the Japanese military had been able to devise for applying pressure on the British Concession, which in the matter of such restrictions could not be dealt with separately from the French Concession.

I was informed that although the decision of the local military has been referred to Peiping as a matter of formality, the settlement of this question was in the hands of the Tientsin military and that it is unlikely that any change in the decision will be made. He added that I was the first “foreigner” to whom he had communicated the above information and that the decision of the military had not yet been [Page 175] made public, but that as the information would become public knowledge within a day or two it need not be regarded as confidential.

In discussing the matter of the four prisoners in question he drew attention to what the Japanese regard as the inconsistency and unreasonableness of the British refusal to turn over these four to the Chinese court, when at the same time the British Consul General informed him that under new instructions he now has much wider latitude in such matters and hereafter will be able to hand over any similar persons on his own initiative without having to refer the question to the British Government or the British Ambassador.

The Japanese Consul General assured me that means for obviating as far as possible inconvenience to Americans as a result of the contemplated restrictions are under consideration; that every effort will be made to prevent such inconvenience; and that he will inform me further as soon as more precise information concerning the regulations and the special treatment to be accorded American nationals is available.

It is evident that the Japanese realize that the restrictions decided upon must result in great inconvenience and financial loss to their own nationals as well as to the nationals of other countries, but it appears unlikely that the military can be dissuaded from carrying out the restrictions, unless the British change their position regarding the four prisoners.

Sent to Peiping, Chungking, Shanghai and Tokyo.

  1. Not printed.