The Swedish Minister (Boström) to the Secretary of State

The Minister of Sweden in charge of the Japanese interests in the Territory of Hawaii presents his compliments to the Honorable, the Secretary of State, and has the honor to forward, herewith, copy of a cablegram, dated January 26, 1944, containing a protest from the Japanese Government in reply to the notes of the Department of State of September 8 and 9, 1943,78 concerning the treatment of the personnel of the former Japanese Consulate General in Honolulu after the outbreak of the war in December 1941.

No. 153/4–T–V

Cablegram Dated January 26, 1944, Addressed to the Swedish Legation, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs B, Stockholm

B–7. Your B–48 last year. Please transmit to American Government following protest of Japanese Government dated January 21st, 1944.

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Japanese Government have received notes of United States Government dated 8th and 9th September, 1943, in reply to Japanese protest79 regarding maltreatment accorded by United States authorities to Japanese Consul-General at Honolulu and his staff.

Japanese protest is based upon facts. Various injustices and hardships which were actually experienced by Kita and his staff have been pointed out in Japanese note. Though American reply says that “careful consideration has been given to Japanese protest”, it consists of mere denials, and no satisfactory explanation of matters raised in protest is given. It may be either that American officials who were in charge of group did not report full facts to Government or that they made a wilful misrepresentation in order to conceal their misbehaviour.

Japanese Government invite United States Government to give reconsideration to, and make reinvestigation of, following matters.

Primo. It is stated in American reply that “Mr. Kita later expressed his appreciation for considerate treatment he and his staff had received”. This apparently refers to fact that, when on day of outbreak of hostilities Mr. Gabrielson, Chief of Honolulu police force, came and intimated to Kita that in view of seriousness of situation he was sending a squad of policemen to protect Consulate-General, Consul-General said that he had no objection to such steps being taken. But American reply makes no mention of unwarrantable conduct of eight or nine armed officials who soon after noon of same day forced their way into Consulate buildings, placed Consul-General and his staff under restraint, searched, and took away their belongings.

The treatment given by American authorities to Japanese Consul-General at Honolulu and his staff may be divided into following several periods, namely, (A) December 7th, 1941, (B) from December 8th, 1941, till January 21st, 1942, inclusive period during which Japanese Consul-General and his staff were detained in offices of Consulate-General, (C) from January 21st till February 8th, 1942, inclusive period during which they were detained in official residence of Consul-General, (D) during their transport from Honolulu to American Continent, (E) during their detention in Arizona on and from February 10th, 1942, (F) from time of their departure from Arizona till their embarkation on exchange ship.80 Treatment given them during one of these periods differs from that of during another, and American reply only refers to such periods as are most favourable to American contention. Kita, when he visited Col. Green81 on December [Page 1101] 29th, 1941, protested against treatment which he and his staff had received since December 7th, and demanded their release from custody and return of their belongings which had been taken away. They did not receive any “considerate treatment”, and therefore Kita could not have “expressed his appreciation”. It is a grossly irresponsible statement on part of Honolulu authorities to say that Kita “acknowledged fact that Consulate-General was under protective custody in view of outbreak of hostilities”. Personal liberty of Japanese Consul-General was unduly restrained and his person was searched and his belongings were seized. How could he acknowledge that as a protective custody.

Seoundo. American reply says “it has been ascertained that no threats or force were used in any case”. But as has already been fully described in Japanese protest of December 1942, a party of armed officials who rushed into Japanese Consulate-General soon after noon of December 7th, 1941, encircled members of Consulate-General, threatened them, made them take off even their underclothing, seized their purses, keys, cigarette-lighters, etc., and thrust them into a corner of a room. During several hours during which they were detained there, loaded rifles were laid on desk with muzzles pointing at their chests, and American officials, now and then putting their hands on grips of guns, threatened and derided them. Upon their request, position of weapons was at one time altered, but they were soon returned to their original position. Such threatening affronts were repeated till morning of December 8th. Nothing would be farther from truth than to say that “not [no] threat or force were used in any case” or “at no time were any guns intentionally pointed at members of Consulate-General”.

Tertio. As has been said before, all keys in possession of Consul-General and members of his staff were taken away on December 7th. But a few days later Captain Van Kuren demanded of Consul-General surrender of key of door of cable room. Consul-General replied that key was among things which had been taken away, whereupon Captain Van Kuren ordered his men to break open door and entered room. Misrepresenting this course of events American reply says, “Mr. Kita gave his assent to breaking of panels of doors in order to obtain keys”. The American officials did not demand key of steel cabinet (which also they had taken away among other things), but American reply says, “a locked steel cabinet was forced as there were no available keys to open it”. American officials destroyed cable room door and steel cabinet without obtaining consent of Consul-General.

Quarto. As regards loss of money and other property belonging to members of Consulate-General, American reply says that no trace [Page 1102] of them has been found, and that it has been determined that none of missing articles were taken by police authorities. But loss of money and other articles belonging to Seki, Chancellor, took place in upstair-room of Consulate-General while all members of Consulate were kept in custody and not allowed to stir a step. It is admitted by American police authorities that they allowed no other persons to enter Consulate-General. On other hand they freely came in and out of building, carried away books and stationery, and consumed cake and sweets which were there. Therefore police authorities are only persons who can be held responsible for missing articles. When Kita suspected the police authorities of stealing things from house of Tsukikawa, Chancellor, Captain Van Kuren admitted its possibility.

Quinto. American reply asserts that Consul-General and members of his staff “lived almost normal life”. But on December 7th, 1941, Honolulu authorities were so excited that their behaviour became most erratic. They did not allow Consul-General and his staff any sleep. They did not allow them to use lavatory, but made them do their needs on lawn, while they watched them and pointed rifles at them. Even Mrs. Seki was not allowed to use lavatory that night, and on account of showery cold weather she had to refrain from doing her needs till 8 o’clock next morning. On night of 8th and 9th she was forced to sleep among male members of group on a mattress laid on office floor. On December 10th they were allowed to sleep in beds which had been carried into two rooms of official residence on second floor of office building. But from then till January 21st, 1942, not only male members of Consulate-General but also Mrs. Seki and Ozaki, chauffeur, were detained in office rooms of Consulate-General, and except for a short time daily for exercise accorded at request of detained persons, they were not allowed to go out into garden. When Mrs. Seki went upstairs in order to change her dress or have a bath, she was followed by a police officer with a revolver in his hand. Such is anything but a “normal life”. American reply makes a clearly false statement when it says, “at no time was anyone forbidden use of sanitary facilities or embarrassed in this connection”.

Sexto. Members of Consulate-General and Mrs. Seki, who were detained in office building from about noon on December 7th, were not allowed to have lunch until after 3 o’clock in afternoon, when they were allowed to have some sandwiches and milk which were bought through intermediary of policemen. They spent evening in porch exposed to showers, and only at midnight could they appease their hunger with some riceballs carried from Kita’s official residence. It is [Page 1103] absolutely untrue to say that “members even on first day of hostilities were served by a Japanese maid best food available on Island”.

Septo. Consul-General and members of his staff were given a promise that they would be allowed to purchase necessary commodities when leaving for continent, but Captain Van Kuren totally refused to carry out this promise except as regards Consul-General. American reply again states a falsehood when it says that “there was no restriction on amount of available clothing and luggage which could be purchased other than space permitted on vessel”.

Octavo. When on February 8th, 1942, Consul-General and members of his staff were put on board ship for transport to West Coast of American Continent, their luggage was examined and their persons searched by American naval officers in a most strict manner. They were made half naked, and persons of women were searched in such a contemptuous manner that decency forbids to describe it. It is contended that search was deemed by Captain of vessel to be necessary in interest of safety of vessel and its passengers. But what was actually done was clearly beyond limits of necessity. It is far from truth to say that search “was conducted with due regard to modesty of individuals”. Japanese Government once more express their desire that United States Government furnish them with a conscientious unequivocal reply to each of foregoing paragraphs.

Japanese Government expect that United States Government will also reply to Japanese protest regarding treatment accorded by American authorities to Japanese residents in Hawaii.

Japanese Government wish to add that they have received a report from Japanese subjects who were repatriated through second Japanese-American exchange82 regarding ill-treatment of Japanese residents in Hawaii. According to this report, Japanese residents in Hawaii who were detained in said Island immediately after outbreak of hostilities were compulsorily employed by Hawaiian authorities in digging of blind shells, which even guard did not dare to approach. During their transport to continent they were locked up in ship’s bottom, given no water to wash themselves with, and on pretext of shortage of lifeboats they were compelled to bring lifebuoys with them. Japanese Government demand from United States Government an explanation for these various instances of inhuman treatment accorded to Japanese subjects.

  1. Ibid., pp. 1069 and 1072, respectively. The second note was addressed to the Spanish Embassy.
  2. See note B–113 from the Swedish Minister, December 31, 1942, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iii, p. 1059.
  3. For correspondence on exchange agreement with Japan in 1942, see ibid., 1942, vol. i, pp. 377 ff.
  4. Col. Thomas H. Green, Executive to the Military Governor of Hawaii.
  5. For correspondence on second exchange agreement with Japan, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iii, pp. 867 ff.