§ 9. Lieut.-Colonel MOORE
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 615 whether he can make any statement on the Japanese charges that soldiers of the British Embassy guard at Peking had attacked and killed a Japanese officer named Sasaki?
§ Mr. EDEN
Yes, Sir. The officer in question, who was apparently in the employ of the present régime in Manchuria was found dead in a Peking street on the night of 26th May. On 28th May the attention of His Majesty's Representative in Peking was drawn to a report which had appeared that day in a local newspaper suggesting that soldiers of the British Embassy guard were responsible for the murder. He immediately called on the Secretary in charge of the Japanese Embassy and requested that if the Japanese authorities entertained such suspicions they should so inform His Majesty's Embassy without delay in order that inquiries might effectively be made. At the same time he spontaneously set on foot a preliminary investigation, which established that there had been no British troops either on pass or on duty outside their own quarters at the time when the incident was stated to have taken place. On 30th May a note was received from the Japanese Embassy alleging that British soldiers were responsible for the crime. A British Military Court of Inquiry was set up at His Majesty's Embassy on 1st June. Meanwhile, when His Majesty's Representative asked for permission for the body of the murdered man to be examined by the doctor to His Majesty's Embassy he was informed that it had been cremated on 29th May, that is, on the day before the Japanese note was handed in. The Court of Inquiry, which sat on 1st and 2nd June effectively confirmed the result of the preliminary investigations. Its findings were duly communicated to the Japanese Embassy who, however, subsequently submitted the testimonies of a number of witnesses of Japanese or Korean extraction in support of the original Japanese allegation. These witnesses now assert that they have identified three members of the British Embassy guard as being involved in certain disturbances which took place on the night of the murder. Meanwhile, investigations are proceeding, and the witnesses mentioned above are to be examined by the Court of Inquiry.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say on what ground the Japanese authorities based their charge? Were there any actual and direct witnesses, and, if so, was their evidence taken on oath?