393.115/557: Telegram

The Consul General at Hankow (Josselyn) to the Secretary of State

32. My 31, February 4, noon. In the conversation which my British colleague and I had with him February 2, the Japanese Consul General appears to believe that the requirements which the Japanese Army authorities here have stated will be enforced from February 10 with reference to foreigners showing identification cards or passes and respecting the instructions of sentries did not contemplate any fundamental changes in the procedure now in force. At present, as a rule foreigners are called upon to show identification cards only after 6 o’clock p.m., in order to pass through the gates from one special administrative [Page 277] district to another or to the French Concession; occasionally they are asked for at other hours. In a private conversation this morning between a member of my staff and an officer of the Japanese garrison headquarters, however, it was made clear that the new requirements are designed to apply at all hours and that foreigners will be expected to show their identification cards to army sentries without being specifically requested by the sentry to do so.

I am satisfied that these requirements are the result of a recent incident involving a British gentleman and his wife who reported that they had been man-handled by a Japanese sentry. The Japanese military authorities, in reply to representations from the acting British Consul General, refused to accept this version and alleged that the arrogant bearing of the two foreigners as they passed aroused the suspicion of the sentry, who asked them for their identification cards; that they only produced them after being asked several times and after consulting each other; and that while the sentry was inspecting the cards they walked away. The Japanese military authorities then proceeded to make the following observations:

“When passes are requested by sentries, it is obligatory for every one, regardless of his nationality, to heed their request and to stop and to wait on the spot until further orders are given. If one does not comply with the request or if one complies with their request but does not wait on the spot for further instructions, sentries are ordered by regulations for same to take suitable measures to enforce their requests or in an emergency to shoot to kill. The sentries are discharging their grave duty of maintaining public order, according to the said regulations. If they allow any one to pass who does not comply with the requirements of the regulation, they shall be punished for the negligence of their specified duties. The military authorities believe that these regulations for sentries are almost uniform throughout the world (to say nothing of Great Britain).”

I know of only two serious incidents between sentries and foreigners here, neither of which involved Americans. The extension of the requirements for showing identification cards, for which the foreign community can see no justification, and the multiplication of occasions for enforced contact between foreigners and sentries are more apt to increase than to diminish friction and will certainly increase the strain on the foreigner’s patience.
There is as yet nothing to indicate whether these new requirements will be extended, formally or by assimilation, to areas controlled by the Japanese Navy, e. g., special administrative districts 1 and 2.

Repeated to Chungking, Peiping, Shanghai.