893.102 Tientsin/280: Telegram

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

104. The following is an extract from a communication addressed tome by the Tientsin-American Chamber of Commerce today, which I am transmitting to the Japanese Consul General with a request that steps be taken to remove the plea complained of.

“Since the occupation of the Tientsin area by the Japanese military forces and the assumption of police duties by these forces, except in the foreign Concessions of Tientsin, it has been considered expedient for Americans to present passports of [or?] identity cards to these authorities whenever requested. The American Chamber of Commerce of Tientsin considers, however, that there should be no further interference with the interests of American individuals, business firms, or other organizations after the identity of these interests has been established by the Japanese authorities.

Since the establishment of the present regulations regarding traffic to and from the French and British Concessions in Tientsin, the Japanese authorities have repeatedly asserted that it was not intended that these regulations should impede or interfere with American interests in any way.

Despite the assurances by the Japanese authorities that they do not wish to interfere with Americans the present regulations are definitely stopping American business and interfering with our livelihood and are causing inconvenience and annoyance to Americans at the barriers surrounding the French and British Concessions.

Point 1. Americans are being searched at the barriers. Even after their identity has been established, Americans are being subjected to the indignity of having to pass along narrow and congested passageways and through inspection sheds, there to be passed or searched, although in some cases the searching has been only perfunctory. This is apparently done at the discretion of Japanese sentries and applies not alone to men, but also to American women.

We understand that you have already been informed of Mr. R. E. McCann being searched last week. On the 16th instant two American ladies on their way to take the 3:17 p.m. train for Peiping were searched at the barrier. The ladies concerned are Mrs. L. Michaelson, whose husband is in the employ of General Motors Corporation in Japan, and Mrs. Briggs, whose husband is with the Standard Oil Company in Japan.

On Sunday the 18th instant at about noon the principal of the American School, Mrs. Fink, and her 12-year-old daughter were searched at the barrier coming in from the country club. The child was so upset and frightened as the result of this experience that she was in a bad nervous condition all that day and night. Another American lady, Mrs. Silverberg, was also subjected to a search before being permitted to pass through the above-mentioned barrier. There [Page 188] may have been other cases which have been reported to the Consulate General.

Point 2. American business is being impeded and restricted by the fact that the employees of American firms who are of Chinese and other non-American nationalities, and who live outside the French and British Concessions, cannot go to and from their places of employment without being subjected to delays of many hours of waiting in line at the barriers to be examined and thoroughly searched. In many cases Chinese employees of American firms, arriving at the barrier at 5:00 a.m. are not able to enter the Concessions and report for work before noon and in some cases later. The result is that many such employees, having to wait for hours in the blazing sun and being subjected to shameful and unnecessary minute searching, stay away altogether. The same interference is also being applied to Chinese, Japanese, and other clients of American firms thus causing a virtual stoppage of American business. Chinese servants of American families are also being delayed and in some cases have been unable to report to their employers for several days.

Point 3. It has been announced by the authorities concerned that foreign exchange on the “link system” will not be granted to exporters of commodities on the controlled list unless the exporter has an office or branch in the Japanese-controlled areas. It is the opinion of this Chamber that the enforcement of such a regulation would be a definite restriction and hardship on American trade in these controlled commodities, and we wish to emphasize that it would be most difficult, and in many cases virtually impossible, for American firms to take the steps necessary to comply with these regulations and that the application of these regulations to American trade is not only unreasonable, but is inconsistent with the Japanese authorities’ announced intentions not to interfere with American business.

We request that, as vitally affecting American interests, and as being in conformity with the announced intention of the Japanese authorities to interfere as little as possible with American interests, arrangements be made for:

The passage of American citizens through the barriers upon presentations of their passports of [or?] identity cards without further delay of any sort such as waiting in line, questioning, search, or passage through inspection sheds.
Chinese and other nationals in the employ of American firms or American families to be permitted quick passage through the barriers by being issued special identity passes during the present restrictions.
That all legitimate goods belonging to Americans, whether import or export cargo or goods for local use, be allowed to pass freely and quickly through the barriers.
No restrictions be placed on American firms applying for foreign exchange on the “link system”, particularly with respect to the location of the firms’ place of business, or with respect to nationality of the firm with whom the “link” is made.

For your information this Chamber is requesting its members to furnish full details of specific instances where American interests are [Page 189] being interfered with by the present restrictions and when received such instances will be the subject of further reports to you.”

Repeated to Peiping, Chungking, Shanghai. To Tokyo by air mail.