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2. Official comment, pending study of the situation, is cautious and reserved. However, first impression views in official circles are: that the Nine Power Treaty is obsolete and the Kellogg Pact inapplicable to the Far East; that Japan will, if invited, refuse to attend the proposed Nine Power Treaty Conference; and that Japan will not acquiesce in any intervention between Japan and China. One paper reports consideration is being given to denunciation by Japan of the Nine Power Treaty.
3. Editorials, although not violent in tone, clearly reveal that recent announcements of the American attitude have been a shock to Japanese opinion. They generally conform to a pattern somewhat as follows:
(a) The League of Nations has consistently ignored actual conditions in the Far East, and, moved by Chinese propaganda, it has denounced Japan as a violator of the Nine Power and Kellogg Treaties. The United States had been taking an independent course of action which was impartial and just. However, it is now evident that the United States, in associating itself with the League in denouncing Japan as a treaty violator, is equally with the League unable to understand conditions in the Far East and must share with the League responsibility for aggravating the situation. The initiative in the present conflict was taken by China, and the measures of force resorted to by Japan were necessary to protect its interests in China. It would not be in the interests of peace, either in the Far East or in the world at large, if Japan were to permit third parties to intervene.
4. It is understood that the Foreign Office will issue, probably tomorrow, a statement with regard to the League resolution and to the Department's announcement.82
Chapter II: Preparations for the Brussels Conference
793.94 Conference/31 Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Dunn) of a
Trans-Atlantic Telephone Conversation With the Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson)
[WASHINGTON,] October 8, 1937. Acting under the Secretary's instruction, I telephoned the following message to Herschel Johnson in London today. Mr. Johnson said it was about seven o'clock in London at the time I was talking to him and that he would be able to transmit the message to Mr. Eden 83 immediately. I referred to the request of the British Government for our
* See telegram No. 463, October 9, 2 p. m., Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. I, p. 399.
" Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
views with regard to the calling of a meeting of the parties to the Nine Power Pact and possibly other associated powers in accordance with the second report of the Advisory Commission of the League of Nations, adopted by the Assembly on October 6.84 I told Mr. Johnson that we had given the British Chargé d'affaires 85 here yesterday our general views with regard to the meeting and that we thought the British Government would be interested in receiving a further indication of our views as they had been arrived at today. I asked him to inform the British Foreign Secretary of the following:
1. The President suggests for their consideration that Mr. Paul van Zeeland, Prime Minister of Belgium issue the invitations to the signatories of the Nine Power Pact who are not members of the League.
2. Also that Brussels be considered as a place of meeting.
3. That if possible the convening of the meeting should be arranged to take place not more than two weeks from this time.
4. That the first matter for consideration upon assembling would be the consideration of other nations to be invited.
J[AMES] C. D[UNN]
793.94 Conference/3a : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Belgium (Gibson)
WASHINGTON, October 8, 1937–4 p. m. 45. The British Government approached us yesterday with a request for suggestions as to how the forthcoming conference of the parties to the Nine-Power Treaty should be summoned, where and when it should take place, and what attitude it should adopt toward the inclusion of Russia and Germany. We have just replied, offering the suggestion that the invitations to those parties to the Treaty who are not members of the League should be issued by Van Zeeland, that the conference should meet in Brussels in not over a fortnight's time, and that the parties to the Treaty should decide at their first session the attitude to be taken by the conference toward inviting non-signatory countries.
We shall keep you informed as soon as the British have expressed an opinion on the foregoing suggestions.
* Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931-1941, vol. 1, p. 394. 85 V. A. L. Mallet.
793.94 Conference/3: Telegram The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary
LONDON, October 8, 1937–9 p. m.
[Received October 8–5:40 p. m.] 640. 1. Reference Dunn's telephone conversation this afternoon. The Foreign Secretary has left for Balmoral. The message therefore was delivered to Vansittart. He told me the British Chargé d'Affaires had reported a conversation with Assistant Secretary Wilson. Based on the report of the conversation, an instruction was sent late this afternoon to Mallet in the following sense:
Mallet is to say the British Government is in agreement with the views expressed by Mr. Wilson. They think the meeting should be held as soon as possible. Regarding the character of the invitation and the choice of place, the British [Foreign Office?] suggests The Hague and has already sounded the Netherlands Government secretly and informally; if the Dutch demur they will try Brussels; when they get an answer from either they suggest sounding the other governments who received the League invitation, with a view to a joint invitation being sent to the United States. If the United States accepts they suggest those governments together with the United States should then consider inviting Soviet Russia and Germany. The British think these two countries should be invited together of course with any others whom the United States might desire to have invited.
As regards representation, the British think it depends to some extent on the place, but they think the delegates should be of the highest standing. The Foreign Secretary would probably attend and certainly would if the American Secretary of State came.
The British do not know the attitude of Germany and Russia but they will let us know if they get any idea. They strongly desire preliminary contact in London with the American delegation.
2. Vansittart said that with both the Prime Minister 87 and the Foreign Secretary away he naturally could make no definite commitment. He explained however that as Mr. Hugh Wilson had mentioned both The Hague and Brussels to Mallet in that order, they had approached the Dutch at once as they felt no time should be lost. A reply from the Dutch may come tomorrow and Vansittart is quite uncertain as to what it will be. I pointed out the difference in the method suggested by the President in point 1 of Dunn's conversation, for the invitation being extended to non-members of the League who are signatories of the Nine Power Treaty, to that suggested in the instruction to Mallet outlined in section 1 of this telegram; I likewise pointed out that their proposed method apparently took no account of extending an invitation to Japan.
86 Sir Robert G. Vansittart, British Permanent Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
87 Neville Chamberlain.
3. Following enumeration refers to the four points of Dunn's message:
(1) The British would agree entirely to Belgium but having already sounded the Dutch feel they must await the reply. I gather there would be no objection to the suggested method for extending invitations to the United States and Japan but Vansittart said nothing definite about this. (2) No comment necessary.
(3) They agree entirely with the necessity for convening the meeting at the earliest practicable moment and that the time factor is of the essence.
(4) Vansittart's personal view is that once the meeting has been agreed upon we should consider at once and decide upon what other nations, outside the purview of the Nine Power Treaty, are to be invited without waiting until the meeting is convened. I suggested personally as a possible interpretation that the President's point 4 did not purport to preclude a prior decision of the question but rather suggested a final time limit for its consideration.
793.94 Conference/4: Telegram The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary
LONDON, October 9, 1937–6 p. m.
[Received October 9—1:50 p. m.] My 640, October 8, 9 p. m.
1. Foreign Office advises that the Netherlands is unwilling to offer The Hague as a meeting place or to take any initiative in calling the Conference, for reasons based on the extent and vulnerability of her Asiatic Empire.
2. The President's suggestions were telephoned to the Foreign Secretary who after receipt of the Dutch refusal authorized instructions to be sent to the British Ambassador at Brussels to approach the Belgian Prime Minister. I understand from the Foreign Office that the line to be taken by the British Ambassador in making this approach will follow closely the suggestions of the President as telephoned by Dunn to me and the date of October 25th will be suggested.
3. The British Chargé d'Affaires will be instructed, so the Foreign Office says, to communicate in full to the Department the instructions sent to Brussels.
793.94 Conference/4a : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Belgium (Gibson)
WASHINGTON, October 10, 1937—noon. 46. Supplementing my 45, October 8, 4 p. m. the British Foreign Office has instructed British Chargé d'Affaires at Brussels to approach van Zeeland with the suggestion that latter summon Nine Power Conference to meet in Brussels. You are requested to get in touch with van Zeeland personally and as urgently as possible and convey to him confidentially the expression of the earnest hope of the President and myself that he will accept this suggestion.
793.94 Conference/6: Telegram The Ambassador in Belgium (Gibson) to the Secretary of State
BRUSSELS, October 11, 1937–3 p. m.
[Received October 11-1:55 p. m.] 77. My telegram No. 76, October 11, 1 p. m.88 British Ambassador yesterday received instructions to take the matter up with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As the Minister was out of town over Sunday the Ambassador addressed a confidential note to him embodying ideas outlined in the Department's 45, October 8, 4 p. m. He followed this up with a personal call on the Minister this morning.
As Van Zeeland has just left for a 2 weeks holiday in the south of France prescribed by his doctor I thought it well to call on the Foreign Minister immediately afterwards and convey to him the message contained in the Department's 46.
The Minister states that he is personally disposed to give a favorable answer and assumes that there will be no difficulty but that he cannot give an official reply until he has consulted Van Zeeland by telephone and has secured the approval of the King who is also absent from Belgium. He expects to be able to give an official answer tomorrow,
88 Not printed.