The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Japan (Bell)17
399. Japanese delegation to Preliminary Communications Conference is asking instructions of its Government permitting discussion [Page 135] regarding formulation of legal principles applicable to cables in time of war. French delegation has taken position that this matter should be discussed at The Hague. This Government considers it highly important that this question should be discussed here for the purpose of formulating a tentative non-retroactive program of regulations for submission by the five powers to the General Conference and adoption or revision by it. This question intimately allied with general policy of powers regarding cable situation and discussion of plans for additional facilities. Discussion of international law regarding cables both in peace and war requires technical knowledge and realization of special needs. It can readily be treated separately from other laws of war. Cable experts assembled here peculiarly competent to discuss the matter. The meeting of the next Hague conference indefinite and cable experts will probably not be present. All delegations in general agreed that if practical results desired Conference must not be limited in its scope. The United States feels that these legal questions are of great practical importance in relation to future and strategic development of cables and earnestly hopes that the Japanese Government will instruct delegates to discuss the matter. Please press above views informally with Japanese Government and report by cable. Further information will follow by pouch.
- The same telegram, mutatis mutandis, to the representatives in France (no. 1588) and Great Britain (no. 1108).↩