711.94114 Supplies/194a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Hamilton )

1180. The Legation at Bern has forwarded to Department text of recent Japanese communication80 concerning onward movement of relief supplies now warehoused at Vladivostok and those to be sent subsequently via that port intended for distribution to Allied prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japanese custody. This is the proposal originally taken up with the Soviet Government by the Embassy pursuant to Department’s telegram 205, April 17, 1943,81 and should not be confused with the more recent proposal envisaging accelerated exchanges and the shipment of relief supplies outlined in the Department’s 319, February 16, 1944.

The above-mentioned Japanese communication states that Japanese Government is prepared to pick up these relief supplies and mail at Vladivostok and to distribute them to Allied prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japanese custody. To this end it offers to send a Japanese ship to Vladivostok about once a month. The Japanese Government makes this offer contingent (1) upon the granting by the Soviet Government of permission for the Japanese ship to enter the port of Vladivostok for the purpose and (2) United States agreement to move in reverse direction such relief supplies and mail as Japan may wish to send to Japanese prisoners of war and civilian internees in United States custody.

Please communicate the foregoing to the Soviet Government and request its agreement on an urgent basis, reminding that Government of the intense anxiety for the welfare of these prisoners which exists on the part of the people of the United States, Great Britain, and other Allied countries whose nationals are in Japanese custody. Should the Soviet Government be unwilling to permit a Japanese vessel to call at Vladivostok for this purpose it is hoped that the Soviet Government will be good enough to designate some other Soviet Pacific port for the purpose to which this Government could move these relief supplies from Vladivostok. The United States Government is of course prepared to defray all necessary expenses in this connection.

The Department is aware that in the Embassy’s telegram 912, July 21, 1943,82 the view was expressed that the Soviet authorities would not be disposed to permit Japanese ships to enter the Soviet Union to pick up these supplies. In view of the Japanese Government’s insistent refusal during the past 2 years to permit the direct [Page 1171] shipment of relief supplies to Japanese ports even in neutral ships, it would appear that trans-shipment via Japanese ship calling at a Soviet port is the most practicable, if not the only way in which the regular shipment of supplies so urgently needed by Allied nationals in Japanese custody can be effected. The Department realizes that for security reasons this arrangement may not be entirely pleasing to the Soviet authorities, but hopes that the Soviet authorities may be able to take such security measures as may make it possible to accept the Japanese Government’s proposal. You may find it advisable in this connection to point out that, as stated in the Department’s 702, August 17, 1943,83 failure to arrange for the onward movement of these supplies in the face of increasing public pressure upon the United States and British Governments will become increasingly embarrassing to all concerned. This will be the case even more if we fail to move these supplies now that the Japanese Government has made public its offer to pick them up at a Soviet port.

You may present the matter in such manner as in your judgment is likely to result in a prompt and favorable response by the Soviet authorities. If you are of the opinion that an approach to the Soviet Embassy at Washington would be helpful in supporting your action, please inform the Department urgently.