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793.94/7688: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in China (Peck) to the Secretary of State

NANKING, January 23, 1936-noon. [Received January 23—9 a. m.]

23. 1. Following statement for the press has been received from the Foreign Office:

"Interview by press correspondents concerning Mr. Koki Hirota's 42 reference, in his speech before the Japanese House of Peers last Tuesday, to alleged concurrence by China to Japanese three principles vis-à-vis China, one of which is stated to be China's recognition of the puppet state of 'Manchukuo', a spokesman of the Waichiaopu stated as follows:

'By the three principles Mr. Hirota must have meant those three points which he put forward to General Chiang Tso Pin, then Chinese Ambassador to Tokyo, in September 1935 by way of reply to the latter's proposals. It will be recalled that in the fall of last year the Chinese Government proposed, through Ambassador Chiang, to the Japanese Government certain fundamental measures for the improvement of the relations of the two countries. In reply, Mr. Hirota informed Ambassador Chiang to the effect that the Chinese proposals, in principle, were not unacceptable to Japan but that before Japan's acceptance of the same China must agree to three things:

1. China must abandon her policy of playing one foreign country against another;

2. China must respect the fact of the existence of the "Manchukuo";

3. China and Japan must jointly devise effective measures for preventing the spread of Communism in regions in the northern part of China.

However, these three points were considered by the Chinese Government as being too vague in their phraseology to serve as a subject for useful discussion. So the Japanese Government was requested to state the concrete terms embodied in these points, but up to the present time Japanese Government have not yet done so. Mr. Hirota's recent statement to the effect that China has indicated her concurrence to these points is, therefore, without foundation.

On the other hand, General Chang Chun shortly after assuming his duties as Minister for Foreign Affairs, has proposed that SinoJapanese negotiations should be conducted according to regular procedure and through diplomatic channels with a view to the fundamental readjustment of the relations between the two countries. Now in his recent speech before the House of Peers, Mr. Hirota not only expressed concurrence to General Chang's proposal but also reiterated Japanese fundamental policy of non-menace and non-aggression against neighboring countries in the hope of restoring the relations of the two countries to normalcy as well as adjusting their mutual "2 Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs,

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interests. From this standpoint, there seems to be no divergence of views between the two sides. With these as a starting point in the negotiations between China and Japan there can be no doubt that the relations between the two countries will be greatly improved."


793.94/7685: Telegram

The Consul General at Shanghai (Davis) to the Secretary of State

SHANGHAI, January 23, 1936-4 p. m. [Received January 23-7: 10 p. m.]

51. Mayor Wu told me this morning that the Japanese Consul General called on him recently saying that he had instructions from Tokyo to adopt a stronger attitude in dealing with the local Chinese authorities and that these instructions were issued because the attitude of the Nanking Government toward Japan had changed. See my despatch No. 66, January 10th.43

Repeated to Department and Nanking.


793.94/7687: Telegram

The Ambassador in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

PEIPING, January 23, 1936-5 p.m. [Received January 23-10 a.m.]

33. Embassy's 21, January 16, 4 p. m. Progress of Japanese activities and Sino-Japanese negotiations and conversations in Hopei and other provinces of North China continue to be obscure. It is believed that the Japanese are continuing their efforts to obtain the autonomy of the five provinces but find Sung, Han," and Yen 5 difficult. It is thought that, if Sung does not come to terms with the Japanese, he will be forced out of Hopei. It is possible that the appointment of Shih Yu-san as commander of Peace Preservation Corps of Peiping, presumably at Japanese instance, may be a preparatory measure for removing Sung if necessary. It is said that, disregarding their personal feelings, there are important elements among the subordinates of Sung, Han, and Yen strongly opposed to submitting to the Japanese.

2. Apparently Teh Wang 40 has not yet declared independence. (See Embassy's 24, January 19, 11 a.m.43) According to a competent

43 Not printed.


General Han Fu-chu, Chairman of the Shantung Provincial government. 45 Marshal Yen Hsi-shan, director of peace preservation in Shansi.

16 Prince Teh, Secretary General of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Government Committee.

Chinese observer, the drive of Li Shou Hsin into Suiyuan awaits the melting of snows, one purpose of taking Suiyuan being to bring pressure on Yen to obtain his acquiescence to the Japanese program. The rumored appointment of the renegade Sun Tien Ying to a military post in southern Hopei may also be a potential threat directed toward Yen.

3. There are no indications here that the Kwantung army's plans for North China will be altered by possible Sino-Japanese conversations at Nanking.

By mail to Nanking and Tokyo.

893.01 Outer Mongolia/57


The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State No. 1648

TOKYO, January 23, 1936. [Received February 10.]

SIR: I have the honor to report that, according to press despatches which have emanated for the most part from Hsinking, clashes between armed "Manchukuo" and Outer Mongolian forces have occurred on January 8, 14, 15, 16, and 17 at various places in the frontier region. On the last named date it is alleged that a group of more than 100 Mongols was involved; on January 15 seven "Manchukuo" soldiers are said to have been carried off by the Mongols, apparently in reprisal for the previous seizure of Mongol soldiers. The cause of these clashes is not clear, but it is apparent that neither the Mongols nor the Manchurians, each of whom is confident of support from the Soviets and the Japanese, respectively, are at present willing to show any sign of weakness or of a willingness to compromise.' If the press may be credited, the language of the notes of protest exchanged between Hsinking and Urga has been intemperate and, on the part of Hsinking at least, there have been threats of action to force Mongolian acceptance of "Manchukuo's" views on the location of the frontier. It is not certain, however, whether that is indeed the primary question at issue in these incidents; it is at least possible that the "Manchukuo" side is endeavoring to determine the extent and nature of the support which the Outer Mongolians are likely to receive from the Soviets.

In addition to the foregoing disturbances reports have been current that a Japanese airplane landed on Soviet territory not far from Vladivostok on January 10 and was detained with its two occupants who were wounded in an effort to abduct a local inhabitant. The press states that the Soviet Ambassador has protested to the Foreign Minister against the landing of this plane and that the Foreign Minister, in his reply, recalled the benefits which acceptance of his

proposal for the establishment of a Soviet-"Manchukuo" border commission would entail. The Foreign Minister again referred to this question of establishing a border commission when he addressed the Diet on January 21, but his reference was a non-committal one, leaving in doubt whether or not negotiations are pending. The Embassy will endeavor to obtain further information on this matter when opportunity offers.

Meanwhile, with the border question coming to the fore once more, the Army has published an estimate of the land forces of China, Russia, and Japan, showing plainly the numerical inferiority of the Japanese Army. This, together with the speeches which dealt with military preparedness at the recent session of the Central Executive Committee of the U. S. S. R. in Moscow, has been commented on by several of the Japanese papers which suggest that the Soviet troops should be reduced along the Siberian frontier, that the normal development of Soviet-Japanese relations demands a settlement of the border difficulties, and, in the case of the Nichi Nichi at least, that a border commission should in fact be established. This paper stated on January 8th that

"Any ray of hope for the future relations of Japan and the Soviet Union must be based on the proposal of Mr. Koki Hirota, the Foreign Minister, for the establishment of a committee for the settlement of border disputes".

Unfortunately, however, for the establishment of a border commission, Japanese references to this idea still tend to be put in the form of recommendations to the U. S. S. R. for acceptance in toto rather than as proposals for negotiations leading to mutual concession and compromise. Moreover the Japanese still emphasize that a commission would be first concerned with the demarcation of the frontier rather than with the settlement of incidents.*

From the foregoing then it is apparent that there has been an increase in the number and apparent seriousness of border incidents. Owing, however, to the general preoccupation with the Naval Disarmament Conference in London, with the dissolution of the Diet here in Tokyo, and with the progress of events in North China, there has not been an equivalent increase of public anxiety. These other issues are more real and more pressing in the public mind.

The difficulty of obtaining authoritative information as to what is going on in the northwestern corner of "Manchukuo" is of course apparent. There is none available in Tokyo at the moment. Any opinions or predictions are therefore subject to more than the usual

*Embassy's despatches No. 1467, September 7, 1935, and No. 1536, Confidential, November 1, 1935. [Footnote in the original; despatches not printed.]

qualifications and are necessarily speculative. Nevertheless two possibilities may be noted on this basis.

In the first place frontier incidents are occurring with increasing frequency along the Manchu-Mongol frontier and with diminishing frequency along the Manchu-Siberian frontier. From a region where the Soviet military preparations are admittedly powerful the center of friction has shifted to the poorly defined Outer Mongolian border where the defenses are relatively untried, to say nothing of the loyalty of the Mongolians to their Soviet tutors. Moreover this shift coincides with a general trend of Japanese interest westward and southward and with an intensified fear on the part of the army of the spread of communist influence in East Asia. The current incidents may be preliminary to an attempt by force to open Outer Mongolia to Japanese influence. An attempt by diplomatic means conclusively failed last summer and autumn.

In the second place, the winter climate of Mongolia with its temperatures of 40 and more degrees below zero renders military operations extremely difficult. Therefore, even if the current incidents should indeed be preliminary to large scale efforts to open Outer Mongolia, the winter season must pass before serious trouble is likely. A breathing spell of some three or four months might reasonably be expected.

However, time and time again in the Far East it has been demonstrated that the reasonable may not be counted upon. The Embassy holds to its previously expressed opinion that no serious trouble between Japan and Soviet Russia is foreseen in the near future †, but so long as armed forces confront each other, so long as frontier incidents occur, it must be repeated that the risk of war is always present. The situation in Outer Mongolia described in this despatch cannot but create a certain degree of anxiety. Respectfully yours,



The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State No. 1655

TOKYO, January 25, 1936. [Received February 10.]

SIR: With the withdrawal of the Japanese delegation from the London Naval Disarmament Conference,48 the relations of the Powers, especially the United States and Great Britain, are entering upon a

Embassy's despatch No. 1630, confidential, January 7, 1936. [Footnote in the original; despatch printed on page 706.]


See vol. 1, pp. 22 ff.; see also Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931-1941, vol. I, pp. 294–297.

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