693.002/1128: Telegram

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

1424. My 1380, September 27, 1 p.m.

Sir Frederick Maze has informed me that he has had a further conversation with the Japanese Consul General and that he had suggested as a possible compromise and as evidence toward Japan of a more conciliatory attitude likely to create a better feeling between the United States and Japan that the Japanese authorities should consent to the appointment of a “neutral” commissioner instead of a Japanese Commissioner, i. e., “a commissioner, of neither American nor British nationality”. The Japanese Consul General informed Sir Frederick that he did not think this would be acceptable and that it would not be worth while for him to refer the proposal to his Government; that the Japanese Naval and Military authorities would not be satisfied with the appointment of any Commissioner at Shanghai except one possessing Japanese nationality. The Inspector General was urged to settle the question without further delay. Sir Frederick informed the Japanese Consul General that in view of the fact that the powers were informed by him in the first instance of the Japanese demands and having since heard that a protest had been lodged by the American Government at Tokyo against the appointment of a neutral commissioner in Shanghai, he could not in such circumstances take definite action before he had received acknowledgment from the representatives of the powers of the communications addressed to them by him on the subject; that he declined to accept responsibility for the action or non-action of third parties [Page 817] and that he could not conclude the matter in the absence of an expression of an opinion from those concerned.
Sir Frederick informed the Japanese Consul General that from a normal and administrative standpoint there was no rule against the appointment of a Japanese Commissioner at Shanghai and that such an appointment would not upset normal established practices but that there was a war on between China and Japan and that while Tokyo presses for the appointment of a commissioner of Japanese nationality, Chungking would object to a Japanese assuming charge of the premier customs house in China and that both England and the United States might also disapprove.
Referring to paragraph 1 above, all of the Inspector General’s letters to this office have been acknowledged either in writing or orally, mostly by the former method, with the information that the substance of his communications in each instance has been telegraphed to the Department and to the Embassy at Chungking and that Tokyo has also been informed.

The Department’s attention is invited to the fact that the insistence of the Japanese Consul General upon an appointment of a Japanese Commissioner is not entirely in conformity with the position he assumed when discussing this matter with me which was outlined in paragraph 1 of my 1380, September 27, 1 p.m.

Sent to the Department. Repeated to Chungking, Peiping. Code text by air mail to Tokyo.