Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State 53

The Japanese Ambassador called to see me this evening at his urgent request.

As soon as he had entered the room, the Ambassador took out of his pocket a piece of paper and read to me a statement. Upon the conclusion of the reading of this paper, I asked the Ambassador if he would be good enough to let me have the statement he had read as an aide-mémoire of the declaration he had made. The Ambassador replied that he felt unable to give me this declaration in writing but nevertheless would be glad if I would take notes from the statement as he had read it to me. He therefore handed it to me and I took notes therefrom.

The statement commenced to the effect that he was instructed by his Government to inform the President officially of the deep regret of the Japanese Government because of the bombing of the U. S. S. Tutuila at Chungking.

The Japanese Government desired to assure this Government that the bombing was an accident “pure and simple”.

In order to make sure that no further incident of this kind would take place, the Japanese Government “has decided to suspend all bombing operations over the city area of Chungking”.

The Japanese Government offers to pay full indemnity for any damage occasioned American properties immediately upon the completion of the necessary investigations.

The Japanese Government requested that its decision with regard to the suspension of bombing operations over the city area of Chungking be regarded as strictly confidential.

The statement likewise included the assertion in the name of the Ambassador himself that it was he himself who had recommended this procedure to the Japanese Government.

When I had completed making notes on this written declaration and had returned the paper to the Ambassador, I stated to the Ambassador that I would, of course, immediately submit the declaration made to the President and that I wished to express to the Ambassador personally my appreciation of the position which he had taken in the matter and of the recommendations which he had made to his Government.

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The Ambassador said that the situation was indeed difficult but that he wished to do everything within his power to prevent incidents between the two Governments and to make possible the preservation of friendly relations.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. See also telegram No. 451, August 1, 1941, 11 a.m., to the Ambassador in Japan, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 722.