711.94114A/6–745: Airgram

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

A–788. American Interests—Indochina. Department’s telegram 3739, November l.50 Swiss note June 4 gives in translation following reply of Japanese Foreign Office which Swiss Legation Tokyo telegraphed May 31:

“1—The prisoner of war infirmary at Saigon is well installed in a former Japanese army billet converted for this purpose.

The Japanese soldiers who are still quartered in the same building have rooms identical with those occupied by the sick prisoners of war.

“2.—The infirmary used for examining and taking care of sick prisoners of war whose hospitalization is not necessary has adequate instruments and medicaments available.

The provisioning is the same as for the Japanese army. As concerns medicaments the infirmary is supplied according to the regulations of headquarters; it receives the quantities which circumstances demand, consideration being given to the requests made by the doctor prisoners of war.

“3.—The purchase of food stuffs and provisions is entrusted to doctor and officer prisoners of war charged with supervision.

Local provisioning is also as copious as possible.

The average daily ration contains 3,400 calories for each person.

“4.—The authorities grant the maximum freedom and have exhibited a benevolent attitude both in the care given to the prisoners of war and in the management of the infirmary.

“5.—The doctor prisoners of war and the patients are very satisfied and acknowledge that they are treated in a humanitarian and attentive manner by the Japanese army in the infirmary and in the Saigon military hospital.

“6.—The facts set forth above have exerted a favorable influence on the sick, both from the physical and moral point of view. Actually the number of patients which reached 500 at the time the infirmary was opened in July 1944 no longer exceeded 180 in December. If the difficult climate is taken into consideration this result proves the excellence of the administration and of the care given.

“7.—The equitable and humanitarian treatment of the sick and wounded oared for in the infirmary and in the military hospital is in no way contrary to the provisions of the first article of the Geneva Convention of 1929.

“8.—The treatment cannot therefore be criticized and the American protest is in consequence without foundation.”51

[Page 342]

[In telegram 1992, June 8, to Bern, the Department requested the Swiss Government to transmit the demand of the United States Government that the Japanese put forth exceptional efforts to remedy the grave food situation in civilian assembly centers at Shanghai and in other civilian centers and prisoners-of-war camps; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, September 9, 1945, page 357.]

  1. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, p. 1008.
  2. In airgram A–411, June 23, to Bern, the Department requested the Swiss Consul at Saigon to verify the Japanese statements (711.94114A/6–745). In telegram 3653, July 23, 1 p.m., the Minister in Switzerland reported that telegraphic communications with Indochina had been interrupted and that Mr. Gorgé was unable to telegraph the Department’s request to Saigon “as use of code prohibited due Japanese withdrawal from Swiss Consulate Saigon of right to handle POW matters.” (711.94114 A/7–2345)