393.0015/80: Telegram

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

43. Your 89, February 2, 1 p.m., in regard to the withdrawal of Americans at Kuling.

1. After consultation with your British colleague, the Department desires that you acknowledge the Japanese Consul General’s communication [Page 273] and that you state briefly this Government’s position along lines substantially as follows: (a) Although American nationals have been and are advised voluntarily to withdraw from places of danger to places of safety and an endeavor will be made to bring to the attention of the American nationals now at Kuling the contents of the Japanese Consul General’s communication, obligation rests upon the Japanese military authorities, irrespective of whether American nationals do or do not withdraw from Kuling, to avoid injury to American lives and property at Kuling; (b) the presence of American nationals and property within the area of threatened military conflict at Kuling and the possible proximity of such American nationals and property to Chinese military personnel or equipment in no way lessens the aforementioned obligation of the Japanese armed forces; and (c) the American Government reserves all rights on behalf of itself and its nationals in respect of claims against the Japanese Government for any damages which American nationals or property may suffer as a result of Japanese military operations.

You may also state that among the Americans at Kuling are some who because of old age or illness would find it dangerous, if not impossible, to withdraw. Furthermore, you may point out to the Japanese Consul General that experience has shown that in areas of conflict in China American property from which American nationals have withdrawn has suffered considerably from looting and that American nationals have experienced great difficulty in returning to and assuming custodianship of their property.

2. Please repeat paragraph 1 above to Tokyo and inform the Embassy, as from the Department, that it may in its discretion inform the Japanese Foreign Office of the action you are taking.

3. Hankow’s 30, February 3, noon, Chungking’s 71, February 3, noon, and your 98, February 3, 7 p.m.76 have just been received. Chungking is being instructed to follow the procedure suggested in the second substantive paragraph of its telegram under reference.77

Repeated to Hankow, Chungking, and Peiping.

  1. None printed.
  2. This telegram proposed the use of radio to reach Americans at Kuling.