Oral Answers to Questions — China and Japan.

– in the House of Commons on 18th May 1938.

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Photo of Mr John Wardlaw-Milne Mr John Wardlaw-Milne , Kidderminster

asked the Prime Minister what is the position in connection with the responsibility of the Japanese Government for damage caused to British property in China owing to their military operations; whether the Japanese Government have accepted the principle of responsibility for compensation; and whether machinery is being set up to assess and liquidate claims so made?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The position is that the Japanese Government have not formally and specifically acknowledged responsibility for damage caused to British property in China owing to their military operations, and it has consequently not so far been possible to set up any machinery for the assessment and liquidation of claims.

Photo of Mr John Wardlaw-Milne Mr John Wardlaw-Milne , Kidderminster

Are arrangements being made to press these claims with sufficient force; and is there a British organisation to put these claims forward and press them upon the Japanese Government?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I shall have to investigate the question of organisation. I know that claims are being pressed.

Photo of Mr Harry Day Mr Harry Day , Southwark Central

asked the Prime Minister particulars of any persons who were evacuated from Amoy or Kulangsu Islands, China, by British warships; and the number of British subjects that are known to be residing in this district?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

No British subjects have been evacuated from Amoy or Kulangsu Islands by British warships. The number of British subjects residing in this district in July, 1937, was 232.

Photo of Mr Harry Day Mr Harry Day , Southwark Central

Do the reports show that the whole of Amoy is now in the hands of the Japanese?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Yes, I understand that that is so.

Photo of Mr John Wardlaw-Milne Mr John Wardlaw-Milne , Kidderminster

asked the Prime Minister what reply has been received to the protests made on 31st December, 1937, 31st March, 5th April, 6th April, and nth April, 1938, to the Japanese authorities in connection with recent cases of assault by Japanese against British subjects in the International Settlement at Shanghai?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I am investigating the details of these cases, and will communicate with my hon. Friend as soon as I am in a position to do so.

Photo of Mr Reginald Fletcher Mr Reginald Fletcher , Nuneaton

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make any statement concerning the wounding of Mr. H. E. Wilkinson by a Japanese soldier in the neighbourhood of Shanghai?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I understand that Mr. Wilkinson was arrested by a Japanese military patrol in the Hungjao area outside the defence perimeter of Shanghai about 7 a.m. on 13th May, and that after he had informed the Japanese that he was a British subject he was struck by them and wounded in the back with a bayonet. He was not sent to military headquarters until 4 p.m., where he was interrogated before being released with apologies on behalf of the patrol. On hearing the news of Mr. Wilkinson's arrest, the matter was at once taken up by the British authorities at Shanghai, who have protested strongly to the Japanese against this illegal detention of a British subject and also against the whole circumstances of the case. His Majesty's Ambasador in Tokyo has also been instructed to take up this matter with the Japanese Government.

Photo of Mr Reginald Fletcher Mr Reginald Fletcher , Nuneaton

Is it not the case that Mr. Wilkinson's record in Japan shows that he is a man who is incapable of having given any offence or of having been engaged in any activities in connection with the Japanese; and will His Majesty's Government do more than protest, and will demand a proper apology and compensation in this case?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I entirely support all the observations made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

asked the Prime Minister what action he proposes to take about the violation of the Hague Conventions involved in the wholesale shooting of Chinese prisoners and the machine-gunning of boats containing Chinese women and children during the course of the recent attack by the Japanese army on the island of Amoy?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have no official reports that boats containing Chinese women and children were machine-gunned, but a number of Chinese soldiers were taken prisoner and shot on Amoy bund by the Japanese. His Majesty's Government cannot too strongly deplore and condemn such a violation of the Hague Conventions.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

Is it not a fact that Japan claims that she is not at war with China, which makes these atrocities even worse.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I cannot too strongly deplore and condemn such a violation.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

While thanking the Under-Secretary for his condemnation of these incidents, may I ask whether he will consider making a formal protest to Tokyo, which might have an effect on the conduct of Japanese soldiers?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I trust that this question and the answer will have the desired effect in the proper quarters.