711.94114 Supplies/195: Telegram

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

1740. Reference your 1180, May 12, 5 p.m. I left with Vyshinski this afternoon a note addressed to Molotov in regard to the recent communication of the Japanese Government concerning the onward movement of relief supplies now 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. I requested, under instruction, the agreement of the Soviet Government on an urgent basis to the arrangement proposed. I supplemented my note with earnest oral representations.

Vyshinski said that the Soviet Government desired to be cooperative and helpful. He said that the Japanese Government knew that Vladivostok was a closed port; that the Japanese had long been trying on some pretext or other to arrange for their ships to enter Vladivostok; that as Vladivostok was a military zone, as the harbor was mined, [Page 1172] and as the port was a closed one, he thought the Japanese had advanced the proposal simply as a means of cloaking their refusal to cooperate since the Japanese must know that in all likelihood the Soviets would refuse permission for Japanese ships to enter. He said that the question of Vladivostok was especially difficult because it would mean a continuing thing, as the proposed arrangement envisaged one Japanese ship per month. He asked why the Japanese did not propose that the supplies be moved from Vladivostok by rail to Grodekovo,84 Harbin, and thence through Manchuria to a port under Japanese control where Japanese vessels could receive the supplies. He said that this railroad route was open and that it would be much simpler than the proposal for a Japanese ship to call at Vladivostok. I went over with Vyshinski the various considerations set forth in the Department’s telegram under reference. I stressed the fact that the Japanese had been obstinate and had come forward only after a very long time with the present offer. I expressed fear that the presenting of different and new proposals would result in additional delays and refusals by the Japanese and we earnestly hoped a solution could be found which would avert this. With regard to the suggestion that perhaps some Soviet Pacific port other than Vladivostok might be designated, Vyshinski said that this would be given special thought. He mentioned Petropavlovsk or some other Soviet port which might possibly be used, but made no commitment. He said that of course the Soviet Government would desire to be helpful, that he would have to refer the matter to the Soviet Government where it would receive careful study, that he had made the remarks about the difficulties because he wished to give his personal frank opinion about the matter. He said the Soviet Government would do everything possible to give an affirmative answer but the question of Japanese vessels entering Vladivostok presented special difficulties.

My estimate is that the Soviet Government will not agree to let Japanese vessels enter Vladivostok but that they will agree to permit Japanese vessels to enter another Soviet Pacific port or will propose that the supplies be moved from Vladivostok, by rail through Manchuria.

If the American Government desires further to press for Soviet acceptance to the proposal that Japanese ships be permitted to enter Vladivostok, I think that representations in Washington might be helpful. They would need to be on a very high level. Aside from the Vladivostok angle, it might be useful if the deep interest of the Government [Page 1173] and people of the United States in the matter could be impressed upon Ambassador Gromyko85 for communication to his Government.

  1. Station on the line to the Manchurian border (the former Chinese Eastern Railway) 97 km. from the junction at Voroshilov Ussurysky, 113 km. north of Vladivostok.
  2. Andrey Andreyevich Gromyko, Soviet Ambassador in the United States.