740.00117 P.W./12–2744

The Spanish Embassy to the Department of State 37

No. 259
Ex. 160.000

Memorandum

The Spanish Embassy presents its compliments to the Department of State and has the honor to transmit below the contents of a telegram received from the Japanese Government through the “Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores” in Madrid, regarding the sinking of the hospital ship Muro Maru outside the port of Manila:

Memorandum—December 27th, 1944.

  • “(1) On 13th November 1944 formations of United States planes began to raid Manila at 7:40 AM (Japanese time, so are times mentioned below). Japanese hospital ship Muro Maru which was outside [Page 1166]port of Manila at the time was attacked by above mentioned planes at about 8:15 AM. Two bomber planes dropped four bombs in immediate vicinity of ship and then eight fighter planes machine-gunned her. On account of damage caused by this bombing and machine-gunning, hospital ship became flooded and in spite of every possible effort made to save her she finally sank at 12:08.
  • (2) Name, identification marks, and other features of the Muro Maru, when formally notified in January last year, to United States Government through Spanish Government, painting and identification marks of the ship were in perfect condition and quite clear. Weather was fine and visibility good. There did not exist any other ship or any military objective within one thousand meters of hospital ship. In these circumstances Muro Maru was possessed of all necessary conditions being entitled to special protection guaranteed to hospital ships as expressly provided for in Convention for adaptation of principles of Geneva Convention to Maritime War, and she was in such state that she could not have been mistaken for any other thing than hospital ship [omission?] of accidentally attacked. Notwithstanding United States planes deliberately attacked and sank her, thus United States planes committed acts which could be nothing but violation of above mentioned Hague Convention and gave offence against fundamental principles of International Law and Humanity.
  • (3) On the occasion of sinking of Buenos Aires Maru in November last year, Japanese Government gave a strict warning to United States Government relating to repeated unlawful attacks upon hospital ships, expressing great concern held by Japanese Government about repeated outrages. In reply to this, United States Government express every intention of continuing to respect immunity of Hospital ships in accordance with its assumed obligations and international practice. United States forces, however, did not cease from their unlawful activities, then attacked Houshing [Yoshino?] Maru and Tachibana [Tatibana] Maru in succession, and now they have attacked and sank another hospital ship Muro Maru. Japanese Government fear that repetition of such unlawful conduct on part of United States forces would lead to grave situation and demand of United States Government serious consideration of matter. Japanese Government while filing emphatic protest with United States Government against attacking and sinking of Muro Maru declares that they reserve all rights relating to matter.

At same time Japanese Government demand, in view of repeated outrages, that United States Government admit unlawfulness of past conduct of United States forces, punish those responsible, give absolute guarantee to prevent the repetition of unlawful attacks in future, and thus actually show their willingness to render respect to hospital ships.”

  1. The Department made acknowledgment on January 8, 1945.