711.94114 Supplies/210: Telegram

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

1346. Since Soviet interests are involved, Department has refrained from giving publicity to the details of the Japanese proposal concerning the onward movement of relief supplies from Vladivostok, confining itself to the statement that the Japanese proposal has been received and is under urgent consideration although the fact that the Japanese authorities have given publicity to the proposal emphasizing in particular their offer to send a ship to Vladivostok has resulted in [Page 1177] the receipt by the Department of many inquiries from the press and other sources as to the details of the Japanese proposal.

When Embassy receives formal Soviet reply to May 15 note91 (Embassy’s 1874, May 25), please inquire whether Soviet Government would object to the usual statement being made in this country simultaneously with the forwarding of a reply for delivery to Japanese Government, Such a public statement is considered desirable in order to let the American public know of the progress of negotiations concerning the movement of these supplies, a subject of great public interest because of the wide dispersion of the families of our nationals in Japanese custody. The proposed statement would simply outline the Japanese Government’s proposal (Department’s 1180, May 12), which the Japanese Government has itself already made public, and would give in appreciative terms the substance of the Soviet Government’s counter-proposal.

If agreeable to Soviet Government, Department’s press release would read somewhat as follows:

“On May 10 United States Government received through Swiss Government channels a communication from the Japanese Government in which the latter offered to send at regular intervals a Japanese ship to a Soviet port to pick up and transport to Japan relief supplies shipped last fall to Vladivostok, and additional relief supplies and mail which with the Soviet Government’s cooperation would be sent subsequently via Soviet territory, intended for distribution to Allied nationals in Japanese custody. The Soviet Government has been consulted in the matter and has expressed its willingness to cooperate. It has named a convenient Soviet Pacific port adjacent to Vladivostok to which a Japanese ship will be permitted to come to pick up the relief supplies already on Soviet territory awaiting onward transportation to Japan. An alternative but equally accessible port has also been named by the Soviet Government to which Japanese ships may come to pick up such relief supplies and mail as may be shipped in the future from this country for distribution to Allied nationals in the Far East. A reply in the sense of the foregoing has been communicated through the Swiss Government to the Japanese Government, and it is hoped that these supplies will be moved and distributed in the near future.”

You may, if you consider it advisable, point out to the Soviet Foreign Office that the Department shares the view expressed by Vyshinski (Embassy’s 1740, May 15) that the Japanese proposal may have been made, partly at least, as a pretext to gain access to the port of Vladivostok. Public announcement of the Soviet Government’s counter-proposal (without drawing undue attention to the [Page 1178] fact that access to Vladivostok has been denied) should make it difficult for the Japanese to insist upon permission to enter Vladivostok or to refuse to accept the Soviet Government’s reasonable counteroffer.

It is hoped that the Soviet Government will be willing to confirm direct to the Japanese Government the terms of the Soviet counterproposal which has been made and which the Department will communicate to the Japanese Government through Swiss channels as soon as the Soviet Government’s written reply is received. The Department will instruct you to make a request in this sense when the reply to the Japanese Government is ready.

  1. It is apparent that Ambassador Gromyko had delivered the anticipated Soviet reply after this telegram had been drafted, but a while before it was sent on the afternoon of May 29; see supra. On the evening of the next day, a paraphrase of the Soviet reply was sent to the Embassy in the Soviet Union; see infra.