740.00115A PW/4–3045: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland (Harrison)

1629. American Interests—Manchuria. Request Swiss Government to have Gorgé protest along the following lines concerning civilian internment camps in Manchuria:

The United States Government has received information of the presence of American citizens in internment camps in Manchuria of which one at Mukden was established on December 13, 1941. Despite repeated requests by the International Red Cross Committee concerning the welfare and whereabouts of American internees in Manchuria, the Japanese Government failed until the latter half of 1944 to report the camps in Manchuria. The Japanese Government is obligated to safeguard the welfare of all American nationals in its custody and to report their whereabouts to this Government. The failure of the Japanese Government to report the existence of these camps constitutes wilful disregard of the obligations it has undertaken or gross neglect in exercising the care that the circumstances justly demand. This failure has added immeasurably to the anxiety of the internees who, as their presence was unknown to the protecting Power and to the International Red Cross Committee, were denied the right of representation and were deprived of any possibility of receiving relief.

The United States Government protests against the treatment, only now revealed, which the Japanese authorities accorded for more than 3 years to American nationals held in the Mukden civilian internment camp. Insufficient food, including little meat and only small quantities of fish and oil at rare intervals, has caused general loss of weight among the internees. The Japanese authorities have neglected to furnish adequate clothing to the internees who are at the present time most urgently in need of summer and winter underclothing, warm socks and shoes. There is no infirmary at the camp, necessary medicines are not available, sanitary conditions are unsatisfactory resulting in needless illnesses, the health of the internees has deteriorated and some of them should be immediately hospitalized. None of the comfort packages or relief supplies provided by this Government for its nationals have been distributed to them and representatives of neither the protecting Power nor of the International Red Cross Committee were allowed to visit them until December 1944. The internees were not allowed to communicate with the protecting Power nor, from December 1941 until December 1944, a period of 3 years, were they allowed to dispatch any mail whatsoever.

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The United States Government demands that the Japanese Government shall undertake at once to improve the conditions at the Mukden civilian internment camp which are not consistent with Articles 11, 12, 14, 36, 37, 42, 44, and 78 of the Geneva Prisoners of War Convention as adapted to the treatment of civilian internees and shall inform the United States Government of the improvements instituted. The camp must be regularly visited and reported upon by a representative of the protecting Power and of the International Red Cross Committee. The United States Government further demands that should there be any other camps not yet reported the Japanese Government shall comply with Article 77 of the Geneva Prisoners of War Convention and immediately inform this Government of their locations and of the number of American nationals held therein.