811.7193/57: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China (Butrick) to the Secretary of State

261. Following are essential parts of my note to Japanese Embassy August 22 to which I have received no reply:

“Word has been received at this Embassy from the American Consul at Chefoo to the effect that his official mail shows evidence of having been opened and resealed prior to delivery to him. The Consul refers particularly to an air mail cover, number 06829, from this Embassy, mailed at Peiping on July 23, 1941, and delivered at Chefoo on August 1, 1941, bearing plain evidence that one of the wax seals on the cover had been removed and the side flap thereunder opened.

The American Government attaches much importance to the preservation of the inviolability of its official correspondence. I must, therefore, remonstrate against any interference with official mails of the United States Government in China by Japanese censors or Japanese-controlled Chinese postal employees. I should be glad to receive assurance that appropriate steps have been taken by the Japanese authorities in China to estop this unauthorized practice.”

On September 3, 1 wrote the Japanese Embassy in regard to non-delivery of Time, Life and the Reader’s Digest in Peiping, stating “since Japanese authorities are known to be in control of the postal, rail and other communication facilities in North China, and since the disappearance of Embassy periodicals has been too frequent to be explained as an inadvertence, it will be appreciated if you will cause a complete investigation to be made so that these American periodicals will be delivered to their owners by the postal authorities without further delay.” I have received no reply.

Tsingtau’s despatch No. 106, August 30 to this office,23 a copy of which is being air mailed Tokyo, reports that the American Consul on August 12 forwarded to his Japanese colleague several covers addressed to his office which had been skillfully opened in transit. His colleague replied on August 20 “You state that this tampering with your Consulate’s mail must have been done either by the Japanese authorities themselves or by people who had their consent and request that steps be taken to stop this practice. In reply, I have the honor to inform you that the Japanese authorities have no control whatsoever in regard to this matter.” On August 26 the American Consul replied force[ful]ly and renewed his representations that tampering with and delaying of the Consulate’s mail must be effectively stopped.

Sent to the Department. Repeated to Chungking and Tokyo.

  1. Not printed.