711.94114 Supplies/187: Telegram
The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Hamilton) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 9—7 a.m.]
1598. I have received from the Foreign Office under cover of a letter dated May 5, marked Secret, a copy of a memorandum which the Foreign Office states was transmitted to the Japanese Government on April 8. The following is a paraphrased translation of the memorandum:
[“]The Government of the United States informed the Soviet Government in the spring of last year that together with the American Red Cross it was carrying on negotiations with the Japanese Government through the International Red Cross with respect to the satisfying of the immediate needs of American citizens detained by the Government of Japan in the Far East for provisions, medical supplies, and postal service. It has been pointed out by [Page 1168] the United States Government that as a result of these negotiations the Japanese Government did not object in principle to the sending of packages and correspondence to American prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japan and in Japanese-controlled territory, but that it could not permit the entrance of neutral ships into waters where hostilities were taking place. The Japanese Government, according to the United States Government, nevertheless expressed its readiness to study the possibility of rendering assistance in the present situation on condition that the Government of the United States should send packages and correspondence for interned Americans to Vladivostok either by sea on Soviet vessels or by land across Siberia. In communicating this the United States Government inquired of the Soviet Government whether it would agree in principle to cooperate in sending such provisions, medical supplies, and correspondence destined for American prisoners of war and internees in Japan and in Japanese controlled territory across the territory of the USSR.
The British Government at the same time transmitted to the Soviet Government in connection with British prisoners of war and internees in the hands of Japanese authorities a similar request.
The Soviet Government stated in reply to the approaches of the American and British Governments that it was prepared to render assistance to the two Governments in sending provisions, medical supplies, and correspondence across Soviet territory for British and American prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japanese-controlled territory provided that the Governments of the United States and Great Britain on the one hand and the Government of Japan on the other reached an appropriate agreement on this question.
In connection with the requests mentioned above the having in view that, as would appear from the communications of the American and British Governments, the Japanese Government did not object in principle to sending packages and correspondence to British and American prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japan or on territory controlled by it, the stockpiling in the USSR of shipments of provisions and medical supplies for the above-mentioned purposes was agreed to by the Soviet Government.
The British Government informed the Soviet Government that it is greatly disturbed at the fate of British prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japanese hands and that in the hope of ameliorating conditions in the detention camps, the British Government is especially interested that:
- There be recognized the right for the power protecting British interests, Switzerland, and also for the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit all camps which contain British subjects and to submit information on conditions existing there freely and openly.
- There be drawn up a complete list of all British prisoners and civilian internees in Japanese hands, together with a complete list of those who have died in detention.
- The Japanese Government should agree to accept Red Cross provisions which would be sent on neutral ships to Japanese ports at definite intervals and also to assist in the distribution to all areas which contain prisoners of war and internees of these supplies.
The Soviet Government has also been advised by the British Government that a long time ago the British Government requested the Japanese Government to fulfill the three requests mentioned above. Up to the present time, however, the Japanese authorities have refused to sanction the visiting of camps for internees in all the southern regions where are interned nine-tenths of the British prisoners. Furthermore they have refused to supply information on a certain number of prisoners in their hands. Japanese authorities have sanctioned only the sending of such supplies as might be transported on the vessels which carried out the exchange of the diplomatic and consular personnel of Great Britain and Japan after the outbreak of war. The provisions transported by these ships were absolutely insufficient for the large number of prisoners involved.
In bringing the above to the attention of the Soviet Government, the British Government requested the Soviet Government to prevail upon the Japanese Government to agree to the three points mentioned above and especially to the point concerning the sending of the provisions which are stockpiled at the present time in the territory of the USSR to British prisoners and internees. The Soviet Government has also been approached with a similar request to render assistance in improving the situation of Allied nationals under detention in Japan by the Government of the United States.
In bringing the aforementioned requests of the British and American Governments to the attention of the Japanese Government, the Soviet Government expresses the hope that the Japanese Government will favorably consider these requests”.