893.102S/1772: Telegram

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

275. Japanese Consul General called on the Chairman of the Council yesterday and left with him a memorandum regarding the publication in the International Settlement of anti-Japanese newspapers and periodicals. A copy of this memorandum which was dated April 12th has been sent to me and my British colleague by the Secretary of the Council and is summarized below:

[Page 25]

The hope is expressed that in accordance with the “co-operative spirit embodied in the recent understanding reached between the Shanghai Municipal Council and the Japanese authorities” earnest consideration will be given by the Chairman to the fact that many Chinese dailies, journals, and other publications in the Settlement are “extremely anti-Japanese in character and are calculated to influence Chinese feelings and constitute a fundamental menace to the maintenance of peace and order in the Settlement.” It is also stated that these publications “libel the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy” and publish articles “deliberately distorting the facts concerning the political and economic conditions of Japan.” The memorandum points out that “as long as the Council fails to take effective steps” to suppress these anti-Japanese publications, serious difficulties are bound to attend the task of “exterminating political terrorism” and that such inaction is of grave concern to the Japanese Military. In citing examples of anti-Japanese articles and editorials it was asserted that these Chinese publications eulogize terrorist activities, give exaggerated reports concerning the operations of guerrillas and publish “orders and instructions” issued by the Kuomintang whose activities should have been suspended following the occupation of Shanghai.”

The request was made that the Council “suspend the issue and sales of all anti-Japanese dailies and magazines published in the Settlement. Needless to say, the Japanese authorities are ready to closely cooperate with the Council authorities for that purpose.” The memorandum concluded “as regards many anti-Japanese periodicals under British and American jurisdiction, the Consul General will make representations to the British and American Consuls General.” With reference to the sentence last quoted, I may say that I have as yet received no communication from the Japanese Consul General regarding American publications.

It will be noted that the Japanese have linked this question with terrorist activities and the recent understanding reached with the Council regarding cooperative measures to suppress terrorism. The assassination on April 11 of a pro-Japanese Chinese employed as secretary in the “special municipality of Shanghai” was probably felt to be an opportunity to make this further démarche upon the Council. Precisely what action if any the Council will take in response to this “request” is not yet known. During the progress of hostilities in the Shanghai area the Council took active and effective measures to prevent the publication by Chinese newspapers and periodicals of anti-Japanese propaganda and news but with the removal of hostilities into the interior these measures have not been actively enforced and in consequence all Chinese publications in the Settlement, except those controlled by the Japanese, openly publish much anti-Japanese [Page 26] material. The foreign press although more restrained in tone might also be termed anti-Japanese with the exception of one English language paper. On the other hand the local Japanese papers and periodicals and Japanese controlled Chinese papers, all of which are published in the Hongkew area of the International Settlement, are violently anti-foreign. This latter aspect of the question was mentioned by a foreign correspondent at a recent Japanese press conference and in reply the Japanese spokesman said that was “another question.”

Repeated to Chungking and Peiping, by air mail to Tokyo.