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In discussing the general Sino-Japanese situation in Manchuria, Mr. Hayashi did not try to minimize its seriousness. He stated that while that portion of Japanese public opinion which was demanding a "strong policy" in Manchuria did not represent a majority of the people, nevertheless irritation with Chinese tactics and Foreign Office policy was growing, particularly among the members of the military party and the Japanese residents in Manchuria. The Japanese authorities in Manchuria were taking every precaution to avoid a conflict in Manchuria but the possibility of some unexpected Sino-Japanese conflict developing into an incident of major importance forced them to view the situation with grave concern. Very respectfully yours,
JOHN CARTER VINCENT
783.94/2346 Memorandum by the Minister in China (Johnson) of a Conversation
With Dr. John C. Ferguson, Adviser of the Executive Yuan of the Chinese National Government
PEIPING, September 11, 1931. Dr. Ferguson called today and after some conversation about various matters and before leaving he said that he felt very much concerned about the situation that was growing up between Japan and China. He suggested that I might not wish to go south to resume negotiations in regard to extraterritoriality 5 in view of the fact that Japan was bound to take drastic action vis-à-vis China very shortly. I asked him what he meant by drastic action. He said his information was that Japan would occupy Manchuria within the next three months. He said that a high Japanese official had made a tour in China for the purpose of investigating the situation here and had reported to his Government that the opportunity for taking this action had now arrived and he had recommended it.
I told Dr. Ferguson that I thought such action on the part of the Japanese highly improbable; it seemed fantastic that at this time the Japanese would act in this way, particularly as they were able to exploit Manchuria while all of the expenses of administration and government would remain on Chinese shoulders.
Dr. Ferguson stated that nevertheless he believed his information was correct.
NELSON TRUSLER JOHNSON
* Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in his despatch No. 1203, October 1; received October 26.
• See pp. 716 ff.
793.94/1790 : Telegram
The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State
PEIPING, September 12, 1931–5 p. m.
[Received September 12–11:40 a. m.] 578. Referring to Mukden's despatch 440, August 20 re Nakamura, Agent and Consul General [of Japanese General Staff?], the following is essential portion of a further report dated September 10th:
“There is good reason to believe that internal Japanese politics are more responsible for the present threatening aspect of Sino-Japanese relations than anything that the Chinese have done or left undone with respect to the case. It is my opinion that relations between Japanese Army and the Japanese Foreign Office (representing non-Army elements in the Government) are as much strained just now as relations between China and Japan, and that the Army authorities are quite as willing to have the negotiations fail as the Foreign Office is anxious to have them succeed. The report of the first Chinese group of investigators having been wholly unsatisfactory, a second and more capable group was sent out on September 6th. That group simply reported that their investigations failed to disclose any evidence to [in] support of the Japanese statement. It was shown, however, that their investigations were anything but thorough. Despite insistence from Japanese Army quarters for a prompt settlement, Consul General Hayashi informs me that no definite time limit has been set with respect to a reply from the Chinese. The situation is not believed to be as critical as intimated in the press, although further evidence of procrastination or insincerity on the part of the Chinese will make it extremely difficult to avoid a Japanese military display in Manchuria. It has been impossible to obtain information concerning the sanction or sanctions which might be applied in the event of a breakdown of negotiations."
The Nakamura case has for several weeks been causing much excitement and while the Legation does not share the alarmist views of many of the newspapers it must be remembered the Sino-Japanese relations since the Korean riots have been anything but friendly. Any incident if not carefully handled by both parties may therefore produce a serious crisis. The Legation believes that the Manchurian authorities and probably also Japanese would prefer to settle the case locally through the Japanese Consul General in Mukden rather than through protracted negotiations between Nanking and Tokyo. Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang’ is said to be personally sincerely desirous of effecting such local settlement and to that end has designated his
For summary of the Wanpaoshan incident in Manchuria and the anti-Chinese riots in Korea, see League of Nations, Appeal by the Chinese Government, Report of the Commission of Enquiry, pp. 61 ff.
? Vice commander in chief of the Chinese National Army, Navy, and Air Forces; commander in chief of the Northeastern Frontier Army; and chairman of the Political Council of the four Northeastern Provinces.
adviser Tang Erh-ho to represent him in the negotiations. But if current reports be true that the Japanese military are impatient and are urging the occupation of large portion of Manchuria pending settlement of the case it may prove extremely difficult to restrain existing anti-Japanese feeling. Tokyo informed.
793.94/2086 The Consul General at Nanking (Peck) to the Minister in China
(Johnson) No. L-93
NANKING, September 12, 1931. SR: I have the honor to refer to my telegram to the Legation of July 11, 1931, to the Legation's instruction of July 28, 1931, and to other correspondence regarding the suspicion entertained by the Chinese Government that the Japanese Government is deliberately preparing the ground for military intervention in Manchuria.
On September 10, 1931, I received a call from Dr. M. T. Z. Tyau, a Counselor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chief of the Department of Intelligence and Publicity, in relation to the same subject. Dr. Tyau handed me an Aide-Mémoire, dated September 10, 1931, setting forth various indications of Japanese “provocations in Manchuria in order to provide excuses for the use of force, as well as an intensive propaganda campaign designed to blind the eyes of the world to the facts of the situation". He told me that similar statements had been supplied to the British Legation in China and to the League of Nations, through the Chinese representatives. The Aide-Mémoire handed to me for the American Legation was typed on plain paper, bore no seal or other sign of its origin and was enclosed in a "Waichiaopu” envelope which bore no address.
I have had a copy of this document made for the files of this office and am enclosing the original and four copies, together with the envelope, herewith. The matter has not been reported to the Department. Respectfully yours,
WILLYS R. PECK
[Enclosure] The Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the American Consulate
General at Nanking
The military clique in Japan has of late been clamoring for a drastic policy towards China, particularly in regard to Manchuria
Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul General without covering despatch; received October 12.
and Mongolia. At the Military Commanders' Conference the Minister of War publicly drew attention to the possibility of what he termed grave developments in Manchuria and Mongolia, and urged the necessity of preparedness. Such preparedness, as interpreted in the light of recent events, seems to consist of repeated provocations in Manchuria in order to provide excuses for the use of force, as well as an intensive propaganda campaign designed to blind the eyes of the world to the facts of the situation. The following facts are illustrative of the present developments in Japan's policy towards China.
1) At the Military Commanders’ Conference on June 27, 1931, it was decided to increase the Japanese forces in North Korea by two divisions and to place the Japanese garrison in Manchuria on a permanent basis.
2) Balked at the failure of Japanese colonization in Manchuria, Japan has during recent years attempted to make use of Koreans in colonizing the territory. The number of Korean immigrants in Manchuria has almost reached a million, and under Japanese influence as well as protection the Korean settlers have presented a grave problem to the Chinese authorities in Manchuria. The Wanpaoshan Affair affords a glaring example.
In March this year a large number of Korean farmers, acting under Japanese encouragement as well as an illegal contract, forcibly seized about 5,000 mow of Chinese land in Wanpaoshan, north of Changchun, and constructed an irrigation canal, resulting in serious damage to the Chinese farmers.
To make the matter worse, the Japanese Consul at Changchun despatched a number of Japanese gendarmes to Wanpaoshan to protect such illegal activities. Repeated protests from the local Chinese authorities were flagrantly ignored. At the same time the Japanese correspondents, playing on the mind of the ignorant Koreans, indulged in a press campaign against China, alleging the grossest maltreatment of Korean settlers in Manchuria. As a result of such vicious misrepresentations, the Koreans were incited to an unparalleled attack upon Chinese lives and property in Korea.
3) During July 3 to 12, 1931, approximately 150 Chinese residents were murdered in Korea, 340 were injured and another 70 were found missing. The losses directly and indirectly inflicted upon Chinese property is estimated at no less than 3,000,000 yen. Although amply warned against the possibility of such riots, the Japanese authorities did not act in sufficient time to prevent them, nor were effective measures taken to suppress the riots after they had occurred.
4) During the weeks following August 4, 1931, the Japanese troops staged manoeuvres in Hueining, Korea. On August 11, a party of 34 Japanese soldiers crossed over to Chinese territory and started survey
ing for the construction of bridges. On August 15 the Japanese troops mined the center of the Tumen River, while two steam launches manned by Japanese soldiers were seen patrolling the unmined portions of the river. On the same day, a party of about 30 Japanese reservists again trespassed on Chinese territory and there practised with their machine guns.
NANKING, September 10, 1931.
793.94/1791 : Telegram
The Minister in China (Johnson) to the Secretary of State
PEIPING, September 14, 1931—noon.
[Received September 1444:05 a. m.] 579. Legation's 578, September 12, 8  p. m. Following from American Consul General at Mukden:
“September 13, 11 a. m.
No important developments in the Nakamura affair since my political report of 10th. Japanese Consul General, without making a specific threat, seems to have convinced Mukden authorities of Japanese determination to secure satisfaction and of the critical consequence of unsatisfactory reply. After a conversation on the 10th between the Chinese and the Japanese, the chief of the Chinese military police left immediately to join the group of investigators who were sent out on the 6th.”
NANKING, September 15, 1931. Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 93 of September 12, 1931 with which I transmitted a copy of a Memorandum dated September 10, 1931 prepared in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and handed through me to the American Legation, in which the view was expressed that Japan is endeavoring to prepare the ground for forcible action by that country in Manchuria.
In this connection I have the honor to report to the Legation the gist of an interesting conversation held by Consul P. W. Meyer of this Consulate General on the evening of September 11, 1931, with a very intelligent and reliable Chinese newspaper correspondent. The informant is in close touch with Chinese officials in Nanking and this office has hitherto found his statements of fact dependable.
Copy transmitted to the Department by the Consul General in his despatch No. D-107, September 17; received October 12.