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Japan is confronted in relation to Siberia. They have essentially in view the conclusion of provisional commercial arrangements, the removal of the existing menace to the security of Japan and to the lives and property of Japanese residents in Eastern Siberia, the provision of guarantees for the freedom of lawful undertakings in that region, and the prohibition of bolshivik propaganda over the Siberian border. Should adequate provisions be arranged on the line indicated the Japanese Government will at once proceed to the complete withdrawal of Japanese troops from the Maritime Province.
"The occupation of certain points in the Russian Province of Sakhalin is wholly different, both in nature and in origin, from the stationing of troops in the Maritime Province. History affords few instances similar to the incident of 1920 at Nikolaievsk, where more than seven hundred Japanese, including women and children, as well as the duly recognized Japanese Consul and his family and his official staff, were cruelly tortured and massacred. No nation worthy of respect will possibly remain forbearing under such a strain of provocation. Nor was it possible for the Japanese Government to disregard the just popular indignation aroused in Japan by the incident. Under the actual condition of things, Japan found no alternative but to occupy, as a measure of reprisal, certain points in the Russian Province of Sakhalin in which the outrage was committed, pending the establishment in Russia of a responsible authority with whom she can communicate in order to obtain due satisfaction.
"Nothing is further from the thought of the Japanese Government than to take advantage of the present helpless conditions of Russia for prosecuting selfish designs. Japan recalls with deep gratitude and appreciation the brilliant r61e which Russia played in the interest of civilization during the earlier stage of the Great War. The Japanese people have shown and will continue to show every sympathetic interest in the efforts of patriotic Russians aspiring to the unity and rehabilitation of their country. The military occupation of the Russian Province of Sakhalin is only a temporary measure, and will naturally come to an end as soon as a satisfactory settlement of the question shall have been arranged with an orderly Russian Government.
"In conclusion, the Japanese Delegation is authorized to declare that it is the fixed and settled policy of Japan to respect the territorial integrity of Russia, and to observe the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of that country, as well as the principle of equal opportunity for the commerce and industry of all nations in every part of the Russian possessions."
The reply on behalf of the American Government which was made by the Secretary of State, reviewed the position which the United States had consistently maintained in diplomatic interchanges with Japan and maintained explicitly this attitude of protest. The statement is as follows:
"The American Delegation has heard the statement by Baron Shidehara and has taken note of the assurances given on behalf of the Japanese Government with respect to the withdrawal of Japanese troops from the Maritime Province of Siberia and from the Province of Sakhalin. The American Delegation has also noted the assurance of Japan by her authorized spokesman that it is her fixed and settled policy to respect the territorial integrity of Russia, and to observe the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of that country, as well as the principle of equal opportunity for the commerce and industry of all nations in every part of the Russian possessions.
"These assurances are taken to mean that Japan does not seek, through her military operations in Siberia, to impair the rights of the Russian people in any respect, or to obtain any unfair commercial advantages, or to absorb for her own use the Siberian fisheries, or to set up an exclusive exploitation either of the resources of Sakhalin or of the Maritime Province.
"As Baron Shidehara pointed out, the military expedition of Japan to Siberia was originally undertaken in common accord and in cooperation with the United States. It will be recalled that public assurances were given at the outset by both Governments of a firm intention to respect the territorial integrity of Russia and to abstain from all interference in Russian internal politics. In view of the reference by Baron Shidehara to the participation of the American Government in the expedition of 1918, I should like to place upon our records for transmission to the Conference the purposes which were then clearly stated by both Governments.
"The American Government set forth its aims and policies publicly in July, 1918. The purposes of the expedition were said to be, first, to help the Czecho-Slovaks consolidate their forces; second, to steady any efforts at self-government or self-defense in which the Russians themselves might be willing to accept assistance; and, third, to guard the military stores at Vladivostok.
"The American Government opposed the idea of a military intervention, but regarded military action as admissible at the time solely for the purpose of helping the Czecho-Slovaks consolidate their forces and get into successful cooperation with their Slavic kinsmen, and to steady any efforts at selfgovernment or self-defense in which the Russians themselves might be willing to accept assistance. It was stated that the American Government proposed to ask all associated in this course of action to unite in assuring the people of Russia in the most public and solemn manner that none of the Governments uniting in action either in Siberia or in northern Russia contemplated any interference of any kind with the political sovereignty of Russia, any intervention in her internal affairs, or any impairment of her territorial integrity either now or thereafter, but that each of the Associated Powers had the single object of affording such aid as should be acceptable, and only such aid as should be acceptable, to the Russian people in their endeavor to regain control of their own affairs, their own territory, and their own destiny.
"What I have just stated is found in the public statement of the American Government at that time.
"The Japanese Government, with the same purpose, set forth its position in a statement published by the Japanese Government on August 2, 1918, in which it was said:
'"The Japanese Government, being anxious to fall in with the desires of the American Government and also to act in harmony with the Allies in this expedition, have decided to proceed at once to dispatch suitable forces for the proposed mission. A certain number of these troops will be sent forthwith to Vladivostok. In adopting this course, the Japanese Government remain unshaken in their constant desire to promote relations of enduring friendship with Russia and the Russian people, and reaffirm their avowed policy of respecting the territorial integrity of Russia and of abstaining from all interference in her internal politics. They further declare that, upon the realization of the projects above indicated, they will immediately withdraw all Japanese troops from Russian territory and will leave wholly unimpaired the sovereignty of Russia in all its phases, whether political or military.'
"The United States of America withdrew its troops from Siberia in the spring of 1920, because it considered that the original purposes of the expedition had either been accomplished or would not longer be subserved by continued military activity in Siberia. The American Government then ceased to be a party to the expedition, but it remained a close observer of events in Eastern Siberia and has had an extended diplomatic correspondence upon this subject with the Government of Japan.
"It must be frankly avowed that this correspondence has not always disclosed an identity of views between the two Governments. The United States has not been unmindful of the direct exposure of Japan to Bolshevism in Siberia and the special problems which the conditions existing there have created for the Japanese Government, but it has been strongly disposed to the belief that the public assurances given by the two Governments at the inception of the joint expedition nevertheless required the complete withdrawal of Japanese troops from all Russian territory—if not immediately after the departure of the Czecho-Slovak troops, then within a reasonable time.
"As to the occupation of Sakhalin in reprisal for the massacre of the Japanese at Nikolaievsk, the United States, not unimpressed by the serious character of that catastrophe, but, having in mind the conditions accepted by both Governments at the outset of the joint expedition, of which the Nikolaievsk massacres must be considered an incident, it has regretted that Japan should deem necessary the occupation of Russian territory as a means of assuring a suitable adjustment with a future Russian Government.
"The general position of the American Government was set forth in a communication to Japan of May 31, 1921. In that communication appears the following statement:
"' The Government of the United States would be untrue to the spirit of cooperation which led it, in the summer of 1918, upon an understanding with the Government of Japan, to dispatch troops to Siberia, if it neglected to point out that, in its view, continued occupation of the strategic centers in Eastern Siberia—involving the indefinite possession of the port of Vladivostok, the stationing of troops at Habarovsk, Nikolaievsk, De Castries, Mago, Sophiesk, and other important points, the seizure of the Russian portion of Sakhalin, and the establishment of a civil administration, which inevitably lends itself to misconception and antagonism—tends rather to increase than to allay the unrest and disorder in that region.
"'The military occupation'—I am still reading from the note of May 31, 1921—'The military occupation in reprisal for the Nikolaievsk affair is not fundamentally a question of the validity of procedure under the recognized rules of international law.'
"The note goes on to say that' the issue presented is that of the scrupulous fulfillment of the assurances given to the Russian people, which were a matter of frank exchanges and of apparently complete understanding between the Government of the United States and of Japan. These assurances were intended by the Government of the United States to convey to the people of Russia a promise on the part of the two Governments not to use the joint expedition, or any incidents which might arise out of it, as an occasion to occupy territory, even temporarily, or to assume any military or administrative control over the people of Siberia.'
"Further, in the same note, the American Government stated its position as follows:
"'In view of its conviction that the course followed by the Government of Japan brings into question the very definite understanding concluded at the time troops were sent to Siberia, the Government of the United States must in candor explain its position and say to the Japanese Government that the Government of the United States can neither now nor hereafter recognize as valid any claims or titles arising out of the present occupation and control, and that it can not acquiesce in any action taken by the Government of Japan which might impair existing treaty rights or the political or territorial integrity of Russia.
'"The Government of Japan will appreciate that, in expressing its views, the Government of the United States has no desire to impute to the Government of Japan motives or purposes other than those which have heretofore been so frankly avowed. The purpose of this Government is to inform the Japanese Government of its own conviction that, in the present time of disorder in Russia, it is more than ever the duty of those who look forward to the tranquilization of the Russian people, and a restoration of normal conditions among them, to avoid all action which might keep alive their antagonism and distrust toward outside political agencies. Now, especially, it is incumbent upon the friends of Russia to hold aloof from the domestic contentions of the Russian people, to be scrupulous to avoid inflicting what might appear to them a vicarious penalty for sporadic acts of lawlessness, and, above all, to abstain from even the temporary and conditional impairment by any foreign Power of the territorial status which, for them as for other peoples, is a matter of deep and sensitive national feeling transcending perhaps even the issues at stake among themselves.'
"To that American note the Japanese Government replied in July, 1921, setting forth in substance what Baron Shidehara has now stated to this Committee, pointing out the conditions under which Japan had taken the action to which reference was made, and giving the assurances, which have here been reiterated, with respect to its intention and policy.
"While the discussion of these matters has been attended with the friendliest feeling, it has naturally been the constant and earnest hope of the American Government—and of Japan as well, I am sure—that this occasion for divergence of views between the two Governments might be removed with the least possible delay. It has been with a feeling of special gratification, therefore, that the American Delegation has listened to the assurances given by their Japanese colleague, and it is with the greatest friendliness that they reiterate the hope that Japan will find it possible to carry out within the near future her expressed intention of terminating finally the Siberian expedition and of restoring Sakhalin to the Russian people."
On behalf of the French Government M. Sarraut said—
"he gave his full and unreserved adherence to this resolution. In giving this unreserved adherence, he liked to remember that France was the oldest ally, perhaps, of Russia, and in this respect it was with a particular feeling of gratification that he would state that he had listened with great pleasure to the exchange of views that had just taken place before the Committee between the representatives of the United States and Japan. The French Government would hear with the same feelings the formal assurance given by Baron Shidehara of the intention of the Japanese Government concerning Siberia; of Japan's desire to withdraw her troops from Russia as soon as possible; of its firm intention not to interfere in the domestic affairs of Russia; and of its firm purpose to respect the integrity of Russia.
"France had full trust in Japan, who had always proved a loyal and trustworthy friend. It was quite certain that this assurance would be carried out. France accepted this with all the more pleasure because it was exactly the program which the French Government had adopted in 1918 and which led them to interfere in Siberia under the same conditions as those set forth so exactly by the Secretary of State of the United States. At this point he could not fail to restate quite clearly France's intention, like that of her Allies, to respect the integrity of Russia, and to have the integrity of Russia respected, and not to interfere in her internal policy.
"France remained faithful to the friendship of Russia, which she could not forget. She entertained feelings of gratitude to the Russian people, as she did to her other Allies. Russia had been her friend of the first hour, and she was loyal; she had stuck to her word until the Russian Government was betrayed in the way with which those present were familiar. France also remained faithful to the hope that the day would come when through the channel of a normal and regular government great Russia would be able to go ahead and fulfill her destiny. Then it would be good for her to find unimpaired the patrimony that had been kept for her by the honesty and loyalty of her allies. It was with this feeling that the French Delegation with great pleasure concurred in the adoption of the present resolution."
These statements did not immediately effect a change in the Siberian situation but they were nonetheless of the utmost importance. In the first place, the position of the United States was publicly and definitely reasserted. Further, while Japan did not fix a date for the withdrawal of her troops, she did give the most solemn and comprehensive assurance to all the Powers represented in the Conference of her fixed and settled policy "to respect the territorial integrity of Russia, and to observe the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of that country, as well as the principle of equal opportunity for the commerce and industry of all nations in every part of the Russian possessions."
This constitutes a pledge which no doubt will be fully redeemed. While Japan has not fixed the date for the withdrawal of her troops from Siberia, she has renounced all claims of territorial aggrandizement, of political domination, or of exclusive or preferential privilege.
CHINESE EASTERN RAILWAY
The other question affecting Siberian interests directly; that is, that of the Chinese Eastern Railway, was also of the nature of a continuing diplomatic problem insusceptible of definite disposition at the Conference. This railway involves a great complexity of international interests; that of the United States is to assure its continued operation as a free avenue of commerce, to discharge the responsibility for the railroad which the United States assumed to some extent in 1919 in cooperation with Japan and four other Powers in an arrangement for the supervision and assistance of this and other links in the Trans-Siberian system, and to recover its just claims for advances.
In order to ascertain what, if anything, the Conference might usefully do to preserve the railway and increase its technical efficiency, the Committee on Pacific and Far Eastern Questions, and its technical sub-committee, gave the problem the most careful consideration.