8516.6363/17: Telegram

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

638. Reference Saigon’s 100, September 30, 8 a.m.,1 which Department assumes was repeated to you by Peiping, in regard to Japanese requests for leasing of oil storage facilities at Saigon.

The New York office of the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company in reporting to the Department the situation outlined in Saigon’s telegram under reference states that to accede to the requests would in effect mean turning over to the Japanese the entire installation facilities of the Standard, Texas and Shell companies at Saigon; that the requests are tantamount to a demand that the companies cease functioning; and that the Standard and Texas companies and presumably the Shell Company do not desire to lease their properties. The Department, in reply, informed the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company that it saw no reasons of policy why the oil companies should not adhere to their decision that they were unwilling to agree to the Japanese request.

In the event that the Japanese military authorities should endeavor to force the issue by the use of pressure methods, the Department desires that you seek an early opportunity to inform the Japanese Foreign Office of the situation under reference and of the fact that any attempt on the part of the Japanese military authorities to coerce or to force under conditions of duress the American oil companies against their will to lease their properties at Saigon would be viewed by the American Government as a wholly unwarranted interference with American rights and interests; that the American Government is confident that the Japanese Government, being apprised of the situation, will wish to issue to the Japanese General Staff in Indochina appropriate instructions.

You may at the same time, in your discretion and if the situation should so warrant, also inform the Foreign Office to the effect that the attitude of the American Government with regard to this matter would in no way be modified if the Japanese military authorities at Saigon, foregoing direct methods, should seek to gain their ends by indirect means such as forcing the French authorities of Indochina to seize the properties in question and thereafter to permit Japanese utilization thereof.

Sent to Tokyo via Peiping. Repeated to Chungking, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Hong Kong repeat to Saigon.

  1. Not printed.