740.00114 Pacific War/9–144

The Spanish Embassy to the Department of State

No. 194
Ex. 119.01 II


The Spanish Embassy, in charge of Japanese interests in continental United States, presents its compliments to the Department of State, and has the honor to inform that a memorandum dated August 22nd, has been received from the Japanese Government through the “Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores at Madrid”, with regard to the apparent desecration of the remains of Japanese soldiers by nationals of this country.

In order to convey to the State Department a most accurate report of the contents of the Japanese Government’s communication it is transcribed in the Spanish language in which it was received:99

“Memorandum August 22, 1944. As the Zurich correspondent of the Domei Agency declares in a recent communication, the official weekly of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Missouri has alluded to the fact that some children were playing with the skull of a Japanese soldier that was sent as a souvenir by a United States soldier who was on the South Pacific front, stating that out of the respect due to human remains that skull ought to be buried with due decorum, and its solemnity exhorted the Americans not to accept as souvenirs skulls and other remains of Japanese killed for their country. In that same article Drew Pearson, editor of the ‘Merry-Go-Round’, which a Washington daily publishes, also had revealed that Francis Walters, Representative for the State of Pennsylvania, presented to President Roosevelt a letter opener made from the forearm of a Japanese who fell in the Pacific [theater].1

“The Imperial Japanese Government, astounded by the fact that American soldiers are profaning the remains of Japanese soldiers who have fallen with honor on the battlefield and are sending them home as souvenirs, where some citizen has accepted them, also allowing them to be played with as if they were toys, declares that that constitutes a manifest and serious violation of the provisions of Article 3 and 4 of the Geneva Convention on the amelioration of the lot of the sick and wounded in the field,2 as well as an unpardonable offense against humanitarian principles. The Japanese Government points out as an example of what could be considered one of the causes that has led to the perpetration of atrocities such as the ones referred to, what is reported in the New York Times in the number for April 1, 1942, in publishing the facsimile of a document for recruiting for the United States Marines, which bears as a title ‘Hunting License used by United States Marine’, signed by General [Page 1126] Diwig [Denig]3 of the American Navy [sic],4 in which phrases such as the following occur: ‘no limits’—‘free ammunition and equipment with pay’—‘join United States Marines’.

“In circulating recommendations such as those mentioned among young men of military age, the American authorities were considering Japanese subjects as wild beasts, and it can be understood that, being recruited and trained in such an unhuman atmosphere, United States soldiers naturally adopt a cruel attitude toward the Japanese soldiers, profaning their bodies.

“Consequently, the Japanese Government presents to the American Government its strongest protest against the inhuman acts of profanation mentioned above, and demands that the United States immediately have the remains referred to interred with due honors and have proper measures taken effectively to prevent atrocious acts such as those reported from again being perpetrated by soldiers and citizens of the United States.”

  1. The translation that follows was prepared in the Department of State.
  2. Brackets appear in the file translation.
  3. Signed July 27, 1929, Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. i, p. 321.
  4. Brig. Gen. Robert L. Denig, Director of Information, United States Marine Corps.
  5. As in the file translation.