893.114 Narcotics/2531

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

No. 3830

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 1661 of February 16, 1939, and enclosures,21 relating to the situation in China with respect to the traffic in narcotics and directing the Embassy, after consultation with the British Embassy, to present to the Japanese Foreign Office an aide-mémoire substantially in the form of the draft transmitted with the Department’s instruction under acknowledgment.

Inquiry was made of the British Embassy whether instructions had been received from the British Foreign Office to take action along the lines proposed in the Department’s instruction. As the Department’s instruction was received on March 11th, and the British Embassy notified us on April 10th that instructions had been received from the British Foreign Office to inform us in the event of inquiry that the matter was still under investigation by the British Government, it was decided to carry out the Department’s instruction without further delay. Accordingly the aide-mémoire, without alteration, and its enclosure, were presented to the Foreign Office on April 13, 1939.

The official of the Foreign Office to whom the aide-mémoire and enclosure were presented had no comment to offer other than that the contents would be studied and a reply made in due course.

Copies of the aide-mémoire and enclosure are transmitted herewith. A copy with enclosure has been furnished the British Embassy.

Respectfully yours,

Joseph C. Grew

The American Embassy to the Japanese Foreign Office


The Government of the United States appreciates the efforts of the Japanese authorities and of the Japanese companies operating ships [Page 433] in trans-Pacific services in connection with the suppression of the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs between Japan and the United States.

In the parts of China now under Japanese military control, however, according to reports submitted by American officials, Japanese in authority are not taking effective measures to cooperate in the suppression of the abuse of narcotic drugs and illicit traffic therein.

The situation existing in the Japanese-controlled areas in China, as described in the above-mentioned reports received from American officials, is indicated in an enclosure to this aide-mémoire entitled “The Narcotics Situation in the Japanese-Controlled Areas in China”.22

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. The actions in reference to narcotic drugs of the regimes which have been established in those areas of China controlled by Japanese military forces cannot be regarded as limiting the manufacture or controlling the distribution of narcotic drugs. In the light of the situation existing in those areas of China, the Japanese Government has an inescapable responsibility for the importation of opium into those areas, the shipment of opium from one part of those areas to other parts, the manufacture of opium derivatives in those areas, the distribution within those areas of those derivatives, and the shipping out of opium and its derivatives from the occupied areas of China to third countries.

In urging upon the Japanese Government the importance of there being exercised by the Japanese Government the restraining influence which it is in a position to bring to bear upon its nationals in the occupied areas of China and upon the regimes which have been established therein, the Government of the United States desires to point out that the situation existing in the occupied areas is one of deep concern to it because

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 [Page 434] 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 of such seized during the last six months of 1938 having been approximately five-sixths of the total amount seized during the year.

  1. Not printed; see aide-mémoire to the British Embassy, February 16, and enclosed memorandum, January 14, supra.
  2. Memorandum dated January 14, p. 428.