The Department of State to the British Embassy
The Secretary of State refers to the British Embassy’s Aide-Mémoire of January 4, 193917 and to conversations between the British Ambassador and Mr. Welles on July 8 and July 29, 1938 in the course of which the British Ambassador stated that the British Foreign Office had instructed the British Ambassador at Tokyo that it proposed to make vigorous and formal representations to the Japanese Government in regard to Japanese complicity in the sale of opium in China.
It is believed that the reports of British Consular Officers in China, which form an enclosure17 to the Aide-Mémoire under reference, and the information already in the possession of this Government offer a [Page 427] reliable basis for similar representations by the Government of the United States and, accordingly, the Government of the United States is prepared to make such representations to the Japanese Government.
It is believed that the evidence in the possession of this Government would sustain a contention that any such approach by this Government to the Japanese Government would be a measure of self-defense against the infiltration of narcotic drugs into the United States for reasons as follows:
- The evidence in the possession of this Government indicates that the heroin found in the illicit traffic in the United States has since 1935 come in large measure from the Japanese Concession in Tientsin.
- Practically all of the smoking opium found in the illicit traffic in the United States comes from China and is a blend of Chinese and Iranian opiums. Part of it is prepared in or near Shanghai, part in South China and a little in North China. This type of smoking opium has practically no market in China and is put up solely for the illicit traffic in America. Recent large seizures in the continental United States, at Honolulu, and at Manila point to a substantial increase in the illicit shipment of smoking opium from the Far East to the United States, the amounts seized during the last six months of 1938 having been approximately five-sixths of the total amount seized during the year.
- The participation of Japanese nationals in the traffic in raw materials for heroin and prepared opium and in the manufacture thereof is a matter of common repute. A summary of the information which has reached this Government concerning the present narcotics situation in China and the participation of Japanese nationals therein is appended hereto.
The Department of State believes that the basis of its intended representations to Japan should not be restricted to one of self-defense against the infiltration of narcotic drugs into the United States, but should include the broader grounds that the Japanese Government shares with the American Government and with other governments the well-recognized obligations under the International Drug Conventions to control the production and distribution of raw opium, to render effective the limitation of manufacture of narcotic drugs to the world’s legitimate requirements for medical and scientific purposes, to use its efforts to control or to cause to be controlled all those who manufacture, import, sell, distribute and export narcotic drugs, and to cooperate in other ways provided for in those Conventions. It is self-evident that the growing of opium, the sale of opium, and the [Page 428] sale of opium derivatives in amounts greater than needed for medical or scientific purposes constitute a threat, active or potential, to no one people alone but to the peoples of all countries.
The Department of State is issuing instructions to the American Ambassador at Tokyo20 in which he is authorized, after consulting with his British colleague, to make at such time as he may consider opportune, representations to the Japanese Government along the lines indicated. It is being suggested to the American Ambassador that he consider and decide the question whether, from the point of view of bringing about effective action by the Japanese Government, it would be advisable for his approach to be synchronized with the approach of his British colleague or for the two approaches to be separated substantially in point of time.