740.00114 Pacific War/193: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Standley )

205. Department’s 41, January 18, and your 288, [April] 12th. You are requested to transmit a communication in the following sense to the Soviet Government:

“The Government of the United States and the American Red Cross have endeavored for many months to devise a means whereby, in cooperation with the Japanese authorities, the urgent need of American nationals held in the Far East for mail and relief supplies might be met. The American Ambassador in an Aide-Mémoire left at the Soviet Foreign Office on February 5, 1943, submitted a proposal which envisaged the shipment of relief supplies on Soviet vessels to Vladivostok for onward transmission into Japanese-controlled territory. However, neither this Government nor the American Red Cross has made this proposal to the Japanese, but instead has endeavored to arrange for the movement of supplies across the Pacific in neutral or American vessels or airplanes to a convenient point designated by the Japanese where such supplies could be picked up by the Japanese for onward shipment into Japan and Japanese-controlled territory. In response to the latest proposal of this character a communication in the following sense has Been received from the Japanese Government through Swiss channels:74

‘Japanese Government not opposed in principle to sending packages and correspondence to American prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japan and Japanese-controlled territories but entrance neutral ships in waters where military operation taking place cannot be authorized. Japanese Government ready, however, to examine possibility relieving present situation if American Government disposed to send to Vladivostok packages and correspondence for American internees either by land across Siberia or by Soviet ship.’

The Government of the United States is not aware by what means the Japanese may propose to move relief supplies from Vladivostok [Page 802] into Japan and Japanese-controlled areas. Before inquiring in this regard, however, it is necessary to know the Soviet Government’s views on this question. If the Soviet Government should agree in principle to the proposal under consideration, the agreement will not be considered as committing the Soviet Government definitely to any course of action, pending ascertainment from the Japanese Government of the method it proposes to employ for movement of supplies either by land or sea from Vladivostok to Japanese-controlled areas and clearance of such a proposal with the Soviet Government.

The Government of the United States hopes that an expression of the Soviet Government’s views concerning this matter will be communicated to this Government at the earliest possible date.”

  1. The United States proposal was contained in telegram No. 2868, December 19, 1942, to the Minister in Switzerland ( Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. i, p. 839), and had been relayed to the Japanese Government by the Swiss Legation in Tokyo on December 28. The Japanese reply here paraphrased had been transmitted to the Department by the Minister in Switzerland in telegram No. 2179, April 7, 1943, p. 1019.