711.94114 Supplies/8–1745

The Japanese Government to the United States Government 71

Upon studying the replies of the United States Government dated the 18th May and the 5th July to the protest dated the 26th April and the demand dated the 16th May of the Japanese Government concerning the sinking of the Awa Maru, the Japanese Government hereby communicate to the United States Government their views regarding the same as follows:

1) The United States Government affirm that as the result of the official investigation into the incident which has now been concluded it has been established that as the Awa Maru was complying substantially with the conditions of the safe-conduct agreement the burden of establishing identity was on the commander of the American submarine, and in view of his failure to do so the United States Government acknowledge their responsibility for the attacking and sinking of the vessel. The United States Government also state that they have already [Page 465] officially expressed their deep regret that this incident has occurred and there was such a heavy loss of lives in connection therewith.

2) In view of the seriousness of the incident the Japanese Government expect a severe punishment of the persons responsible. The United States Government’s reply, however, only states that a disciplinary action is being taken with respect to the commander of the American submarine who is directly responsible for the occurrence of the incident.

The Japanese Government, in pursuance of their demand made in their note of the 16th May, request to be informed of the name and rank of the commander of the submarine, the mode of his punishment and its execution. The Japanese Government expect that all those persons who were responsible for the incident such as those who were in a position to give orders to and supervise him have also been punished, and request to be informed thereof. It is said that the commanding officer of the submarine did not see the Awa Maru prior to or after she had been torpedoed. If so, it appears as though the order relating to the strict observance of safe-conduct issued either by the United States Government or the superior officer to the commander of the submarine has not been definitely given. The Japanese Government also expect that the United States Government will thoroughly investigate as to the validity of this point.

3) As regards the question of the indemnities for the loss of the lives of the passengers and the loss of the vessel and the goods which were on the vessel, the United States Government propose on the ground of the complex nature of the question that the matter of indemnity be deferred until the termination of hostilities. But the Japanese Government consider that the question of indemnities in respect of this incident is quite clear and simple and there exists nothing so complicate[d]. As has been pointed out to the United States Government, it was the humanitarian consideration on the part of the Japanese Government who are constantly anxious to accord humane treatment to prisoners of war and civilian internees that has prompted them to carry out the transport of the relief supplies by the Awa Maru, in compliance with the repeated desire of the United States Government and in spite of various considerable difficulties. The Awa Maru which made voyages in such special circumstances was attacked and sunk in disregard of the safe-conduct undertaking thrice entered into by the United States Government. It is a unique case and the issue is absolutely simple and clear. The Japanese Government hold that now that the United States Government have acknowledged their responsibility for the incident an immediate payment of indemnities without waiting for the cessation of hostilities is not only the United States Government’s obligation to the Japanese Government but also their duty to those who have directly or indirectly suffered from the incident. [Page 466] The Japanese Government, therefore, trusting that the United States Government will, without waiting for the conclusion of the war, immediately furnish indemnities in accordance with the Japanese Government’s demand made in their note of the 16th separately present to the United States Government a statement of claims.72 The calculation of those claims have been made on a fair and simple basis in order to facilitate the settlement and it is hoped that the United States Government will frankly admit their responsibilities.

4) Gathering from the Radio News Broadcast from America and England at the time of the United States Government’s announcement of the incident, the Japanese Government had been under the impression that several persons had survived the incident, but were deeply disappointed to be informed that there was only one survivor. The United States Government state in their note that the heavy death toll resulted in part from the refusal of survivors to accept the life lines thrown to them from the submarine which remained on the scene making every effort to rescue the survivors. But, in view of the statement in the United States Government’s reply to the effect that the commander of the American submarine failed to establish the identity of the Awa Maru either before or after attacking her, it can hardly be maintained that the submarine made efforts to rescue other persons than Mr. Kantaro Shimoda. The Japanese Government request the United States Government to make a reinvestigation in this respect and inform the Japanese Government of its result. The repatriation of the only survivor, Mr. Kantaro Shimoda, is in no way related to the exchange of prisoners of war or civilian internees. These two propositions being of an entirely different nature, the Japanese Government request the United States Government promptly to repatriate Mr. Shimoda. Furthermore, the Japanese Government have received and are studying the United States propositions as regards the transfer of a vessel, not as indemnification, but as a replacement for the Awa Maru to be used for the purposes as specified in the recent American note. However, it is the intention of the Japanese Government to consider the proposition as a separate matter upon the United States’ acceptance of the demands above presented to them by the Japanese Government.


The Japanese Government to the United States Government

In pursuance of a demand for indemnities put forward by their note of the 16th May regarding the Awa Maru incident, the Japanese [Page 467] Government make the following claims and request that the United States Government promptly satisfy them in compliance with the views of the Japanese Government set out in their note of the 10th August concerning the question of indemnities.

1) That the United States Government pay to the Japanese Government as a compensation for the loss of the lives of the crew and passengers of the Awa Maru being 2003 persons yen 196,115,000 (one hundred ninety-six million one hundred fifteen thousand yen). The above amount is to be distributed to the families or relatives of the victims in accordance with four ranks of victims’ personal status as follows:

1. —The highest rank for 18 men. Yen 200,000 per person
2. —The high rank for 689 men. Yen 150,000 per person
3. —The middle rank for 287 men. Yen 100,000 per person
4. —The lower rank for 1009 men Yen 50,000 per person
amounting to Yen 186,100,000,

and to this added the victims’ cash and the costs of their personal effects estimated at Yen 5000 per person which totals Yen 10,015,000.

2) That the United States Government pay to the Japanese Government as an allowance to be made to the family of Mr. Kantaro Shimoda, the only survivor, for the period of four months from the 1st April to the 31st July 1945 Yen 1,600 (one thousand six hundred yen). In the event of the repatriation of Mr. Shimoda taking place later than the 31st July an additional sum shall have to be paid.

3) That the United States Government pay to the Japanese Government as a compensation for the loss of the goods which were on board the Awa Maru being 9,812 kilotons, Yen 30,370,000 (Thirty million three hundred seventy thousand Yen).

4) That the United States Government pay to the Japanese Government the expected profits of the Awa Maru which would have accrued until the date of the delivery of a substitute ship mentioned in item 5 below at the rate of Yen 200,000 (two hundred thousand Yen) per mensem, which is equivalent to the former actual average monthly business profit of the vessel. The amount for the four months from the 1st April to the 31st July 1945 will be Yen 800,000. The sum total of the above mentioned amounts is Yen 227,286,600 (two hundred twenty-seven million two hundred eighty-six thousand six hundred Yen) which has been worked out on a fair basis of calculation. The above sum shall be paid either in gold or in foreign currency freely convertible to gold currency in accordance with the choice of the Japanese Government.

[Page 468]

5) That the United States Government hand over to the Japanese Government a ship to replace the Awa Maru. The substitute ship shall be equal to the Awa Maru whose description was as follows:

a) Kind of vessel cargo and passenger-boat, first class
b) Gross tonnage 11,249.40 tons
c) Maximum speed 20,823 nautical miles
d) When built, launched the 24th August 1942, completed the 5th March 1943
e) Hull steel
f) Type of vessel light scantling vessel
g) Registered dimensions length 154,97 meters
breadth 20,20 meters
depth 12,60 meters
h) Engine Diesel engine (Mitsubishi MS two stroke single acting 10 cylinders, solid injection) shaft horse-power 16,141
i) Wireless equipments transmitters and receivers for long and short waves
j) Note the Awa Maru was built at the Mitsubishi Dockyard, Nagasaki and was one of the very best vessels prior to the establishment of the war time standard among the cargoes. On the Awa Maru there were one kiloton of goods belonging to the Swiss Legation in Tokyo and two Trilotons of goods belonging to the French Embassy in Tokyo. These two lots of goods are not included in the goods mentioned in item 3 above. The Japanese Government are informed that as regards the former lot the Swiss Government will communicate with the United States Government.

[An agreement extinguishing Japanese indemnity claims based on the sinking of the Awa Maru was signed at Tokyo on April 14, 1949, by the American and Japanese Governments; for text, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1911, or 63 Stat. (pt. 3) 2397.]

  1. Transmitted on August 15 by the Japanese Legation in Switzerland to the Swiss Foreign Office in a note verbale dated August 10; copy sent to the Department by the Minister in Switzerland as an enclosure to despatch 12328, August 17; received August 30.
  2. The enclosure below.