740.00117 Pacific War/110

The Spanish Embassy to the Department of State

No. 94
Ex. 111.00


The Spanish Embassy presents its compliments to the Department of State and begs to transmit a Memorandum received through the “Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores” in Madrid, from the Japanese Government and which reads as follows:

Memorandum—May 9th, 1944

With reference to unlawful attacks on Arabia Maru and five other Japanese hospital ships, Japanese Government upon careful study of reply of United States Government and further detailed investigations have obtained following results:
Arabia Maru—Ship was painted white in full conformity with provisions of 1907 Convention for adaptation of principles of Geneva Convention to Maritime War. Ship also bore red cross markings in particular she had as markings for air, a Red Cross each of whose bars was 9 metres long and 1.50 metres wide over bridge and a Red Cross, each of whose bars was 6 metres long and 1 metre wide over poop-deck. Attack was made from height of 3000 metres but these markings are descernible at height of 4000 metres and weather was perfectly fine at time of attack. Arabia Maru was only vessel which was sailing up Rangoon River then and there was nothing to be regarded as military target within one mile of ship.
American Maru—As to when, where, and how attack was made it was fully described in former protest. There was no military target in vicinity. Ship bore Red Cross markings on funnel both sides of ship, both sides of bridge, stern, and over poop-deck. These Red Cross markings were perfectly illuminated before, during and after attack. Sky was clear, there was moon, and it was immediately before daybreak when attack was made. Enemy plane was at height of 3000 metres where markings of hospital ship must have been perfectly visible.
Manila Maru—Ship was painted white in perfect conformity with provisions of convention and she also bore Red Cross markings. At time of attack weather threatened of squall, but attackers were at distance from which they could clearly discern that their objective was hospital ship. Zigzag movement of Manila Maru was made in self defences after she was attacked, but not before.
Urabu Maru—Enemy plane dropped bombs from height of 800 metres and ascended and disappeared among wisps of cloud. Japanese hospital ship was painted white in accordance with provisions of convention and bore red cross markings of bars 9 metres long and 1.60 metres wide over bridge and over poop-deck. These markings were perfectly and distinctly discernible at height from which attack was made. White sail canvas said to have been observed about bow of ship was, it is [Page 1157] presumed, a sheet of sail canvas covering two anchor winches which it was not practicable to paint white.
Huso Maru—First attack on this ship was made on 14th April off Namatanaian Island of New Ireland. Second attack was made at 2000 on 16th April at point 20 miles to south east of Erventa. An enemy plane dropped illuminating bombs and carried on bombing and machine gunning for about an hour. Ship was painted white in perfect conformity with provisions of convention and also bore red cross markings. A red cross of bars 10 metres long and 1 metre wide was affixed over bridge and a red cross of bars 6 metres long and 1.80 metres wide over poopdeck. These Red Crosses were fully illuminated at time of attack. From height at which enemy carried on attack, above-mentioned Red Cross markings are certain to have been discerned and the two illuminated Red Crosses on funnel and one illuminated Red Cross at Stern cannot but have facilitated recognition of vessel as hospital ship.
Buenos Aires Maru—This ship was torpedoed by an enemy submarine at 1545 on 25th April in longitude 22 degrees 12 minutes north and latitude 114 degrees 47 minutes east. At the moment when shock was felt many members of crew witnessed patches of white foam ahead of bow towards port side and also top of periscope moving in same direction as ship. It was thus confirmed that attack was made by submarine. Ship was painted white in accordance with convention and bore many distinct Red Cross markings.
It is alleged by United States Government that attacks on above mentioned hospital ships arose either from Japanese Authorities having failed to ensure sufficient marking of vessels for their identification as hospital ships or from their not having secured that presence of vessels in proximity to any legitimate military target was avoided or from both these circumstances combined. But what has been stated in 1 above shows that these allegations are groundless. All Japanese Authorities in any way connected with hospital ships are given strict instructions to observe provisions of convention and never to infringe them. Every possible care is taken in order that hospital ships shall not do anything whatever which may be mistaken for hostile act or go near any military target. From investigations made on spot and accounts furnished by eyewitnesses of attacks it has been established that attacks on Japanese hospital ships by United States aircraft or submarines were made from malicious motive of inflicting unnecessary suffering on antagonist, unless they were result of lack of due care on part of attackers. Most distinct markings of hospital ships and best illumination therefore could be no safeguard against such attacks. By alleging that Japanese hospital ships came near military targets or that their markings and illumination thereof were imperfect, United States Government are attempting to excuse their own fault. Provisions of article 4 of Convention for adaptation of principles of Geneva Convention to Maritime War, however, furnish no excuse for attacking an hospital ship deliberately or through any lack of due care. Japanese Government therefore are unable to accept as sufficient reply of United States Government and in confirmation of their previous protest they demand that United States Government [Page 1158] conduct thorough reinvestigation of the matter and admit all responsibility for unlawful attacks on hospital ship. Japanese Government also invite serious attention of United States Government to fact that in spite of United States Government’s allegation of all possible efforts having been made to make United [States] forces on front to observe provisions of Hague Convention relating to hospital ships, Government orders in this respect are apparently not always complied with by United States Forces.”