Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (Adams) of a Conversation With the First Secretary of the British Embassy (Hayter)81

Mr. Hayter called at his own request. He handed to Mr. Adams the attached memorandum dated March 482 which Mr. Adams read. Mr. Adams referred to paragraph numbered four of the memorandum and, after asking what the significance of the word “advocated” was, and being told that it was an error, commented that there seemed to be, for some reason in regard to which he was not clear, a desire on the part of a number of people at Shanghai to discard the present form of government of the International Settlement and to substitute for it a “commission” form of government. Mr. Adams asked Mr. Hayter whether he was aware of any compelling reason for the desired change.

Mr. Hayter replied that there was some dissatisfaction with the voting qualifications in the municipal elections and that he presumed that this might be one of the main reasons why a change was desired. Mr. Adams said that since the object of the elections was to choose councilors, it seemed to him that an agreed selection of councilors would, at least for the time being, meet objections to existing voting qualifications.

Mr. Adams then went on to say that he was inclined to think that there were obvious advantages to the retention, in a time of tension like the present, of a form of government which had the prestige and authority of long establishment. He said that if a new “commission” form of government were established, he thought that the Japanese would have less hesitancy in attempting to upset it within a few months time than they would the present form of government.

Mr. Adams added that he gathered that the Japanese were dissatisfied with the existing voting qualifications in Shanghai municipal elections; felt that the municipal government was extravagantly conducted, and, above all, wanted increased representation; that the Japanese also objected to increases in taxation; and that the proposal of a “commission” form of government was an attempt by the British members of the Council to arrive at a bargain with the Japanese for increased Japanese representation in the government in exchange for Japanese consent to increased taxes. Mr. Hayter thought that this probably was the situation.

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Mr. Adams asked whether Mr. Hayter thought that an agreement might be arrived at with the Japanese within the framework of the present government.

Mr. Hayter indicated that he thought that this might possibly be accomplished and said that he would report to his Government accordingly.

Mr. Hayter indicated that he did not expect a written reply to the memorandum which he had left with Mr. Adams. He hoped, however, that he and Mr. Adams might keep in touch with one another in regard to developments at Shanghai.

  1. Initialed by the Chief of the Division (Hamilton).
  2. Supra.