893.102S/1746: Telegram

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

153. Reference my number 139, February 22, 10 p.m., and 141, February 23, 8 p.m., regarding Japanese demands on the Municipal Council. The Japanese are understood to be pressing for an early reply. The American and British members of the Council are drafting what they describe as a conciliatory reply which, however, is not to concede anything new to the Japanese and I am told that the British Ambassador approves the proposed reply. Accordingly, in my opinion the reply will be rather weak and evasive, will not satisfy the Japanese, and will not be adequate to the situation if the Japanese are serious in their demands.

The reply as now proposed, but subject to possible revision, will state that the Council deeply deplores the recurrence of outrages and expresses regret that in view of the repeated assurances of the Council that it was doing and intended to do all within its power to prevent outrages, the Japanese Consul General should have expressed doubt as to the Council’s sincerity.

The reply will then answer the charge that a large number of police were released from duty on the holiday and while admitting that Chinese constables were given 4 hours off duty as usual during this holiday period will assert that the off duty period was so arranged that only unimportant posts were affected, that other than Chinese police were not given leave off duty, that the majority in fact were doing additional duty, numerous posts including the one nearest the Nanking Road incident were strengthened, and that special precautionary measures were taken by the municipal police, details thereof having been contained in a police memorandum a copy of which had been furnished the Japanese Consul General.

After reciting the efforts of the police to arrest the person guilty of the Nanking Road attack on Japanese, the reply will deal with the five demands along the following lines: (1) the Council has given effect to the emergency proclamation of July 19, 1938, in anti-Japanese terrorist cases and will continue to do so.

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(2) The Council is unable to accept any suggestion for independent action in the Settlement by any police organ other than the municipal police but the Council will, however, continue to welcome the cooperation of the Japanese gendarmerie and Japanese consular police with the municipal police in the detection of terrorism, the measures of cooperation to be arranged by direct contact with the commissioner of police, and the Japanese officers cooperating with the municipal police to be in plain clothes. I understand that in practice such cooperation has existed for many months. (3) The Council is responsible for taking measures to prevent outrages and in the present disturbed circumstances is intensifying its present practice of searching Chinese persons entering the Settlement from the waterways and it is the practice to invite Japanese observers in plain clothes to be present at such searches. (4) The Japanese branch of the police is at present 33 short of budget strength and steps are being taken to bring it up to budget strength as soon as recruits can be obtained. (5) The Council agrees as to the desirability of searches at key points in the Settlement and the conduct of such searches is a normal and continuous practice of the municipal police which is now being intensified.

Both Admiral Yarnell and I have made it plain to American and British members of the Council that we could not acquiesce in acceptance by the Council of any proposals to permit Japanese gendarmerie and Japanese consular police to function independently in the Settlement. I have emphasized that their presence and function in the Settlement would likely result in increased terrorism and would represent a surrender of the police authority which under the present land regulations is vested in the Council.

Repeated to Chungking, Peiping, and Tokyo.