740.00117 P.W./3–345

The Spanish Embassy to the Department of State

No. 33
Ex. 150.000


The Spanish Embassy presents its compliments to the Department of State and with further reference to its Memorandum No. 97 of May 11, 1944 and State Department’s Memorandum No. 740.00117 Pacific War/111 dated July 27th, 1944,44 regarding the attack and [Page 448] sinking of the Japanese Hospital ship Buenos Aires Maru, by American planes, begs to transcribe below a new complaint that has been received today from the Japanese Government through the “Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores” of Madrid regarding this same matter:

Memorandum—March 2, 1945—With reference to second reply of United States Government concerning sinking of Japanese hospital ship Buenos Aires Maru, Japanese Government have made further investigations and received further reports from survivors of disaster, and according to same, while confirming assertions made in first, second protests, refute allegations of United States Government as follows:

1. While it is estimated by Japanese Authorities that attack was made from an altitude approximately of 1200 metres, United States Government allege that altitude was 700 feet high. But whichever case, Red Cross mark over deckhouse of hospital ship was, as mentioned in previous protest, 36 metres by 40 metres, and distinctly discernible from an altitude of 6000 metres.

United States reply denies that Red Cross marks of ship were recognizable on basis of photograph taken at time of attack, stating that total impression is not of a Geneva cross but of lines, shadows, and so forth. But it must be pointed out that what can be easily recognized by naked eye does not always appear so clearly in a photograph, since in letter [latter?], dark colors and shadows show themselves very boldly. Above-mentioned impression is supposed to have resulted from unevenness of roof of deckhouse and condition of light. There can be no doubt that vivid contrast of colors between white painted deck and red cross marks over it, made latter clearly recognizable to naked eye in spite of any shadows.

In view of circumstances at time of attack which were described in two former protests, Japanese Government are unable to understand how United States Government could contend that ‘Hospital ship marking of vessel were not apparent until after attack had been made’.

2. United States reply states that lifeboats were attacked as there were no identity marks on them. But, as was stated in previous protest, they were painted white and there were green bands and red cross marks on them. Most of wounded and sick soldiers in lifeboats were [wore?] white clothes bearing [apparent omission] have been un-mistakenly discerned as that they were, otherwise United States planes which circled over lifeboats on 29th November and forenoon of 1st December would not have refrained, as they did, from attacking. Allegation that victims had weapons is entirely unfounded. Japanese hospital ships are not armed at all, and weapons for selfdefense (swords and pistols) in possession of wounded and sick soldiers are kept in custody. At time of incident, it was necessary for commanding officers to carry pistols to protect wounded and sick soldiers from sharks, but there were none drifting on sea who had weapons with them.

3. Result of investigation as stated above has established that the explanations given in second United States reply do not in least release United States Government from responsibility for unlawful sinking of Buenos Aires Maru.

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Therefore, in spite of all explanations made by United States Government to avoid responsibility, Japanese Government hereby notify to United States Government their final and definite conclusion that there exists full criminality on part of United States Government concerning the matter, and once again declare that they reserve all rights relating to matter.”