500.A4/28: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Harvey) to the Secretary of State


591. Curzon returned to London this afternoon, and sent for me before talking with Dominion Premiers or Hayashi.40 He was anxious about the effect on Japan of newspaper reports that the whole question of subjects to be considered at Pacific conference was to be left open to decision by all invited powers. He was afraid that to do so might scare them off, … He raised again question of possibility of preliminary conference here such as he previously proposed. I replied that I did not have official information on the subject but that from published newspaper reports and information which I had already conveyed by your direction, he could judge as well as I that such a scheme was considered impracticable. Curzon appeared to acquiesce in this conclusion as a matter of fact, if not of judgment, agreeable to himself. Then the question arose as to whether there could be devised a plan of quiet consultation in London during the next few weeks which would appease the Dominion Premiers … Curzon had not fully considered the topics that might be advantageously discussed by the Pacific conference but still believed that if actual results were to be attained, the agenda should not be too comprehensive. He again dwelt strongly upon the obvious impossibility of Lloyd George and himself being absent for long and of the unlikelihood of subordinates carrying sufficient prestige to satisfy Great Britain or the Dominions to the satisfaction of the American people.

In the conversation the suggestion developed, entirely tentative and of course subject to your suggestion and amendment, of limiting [Page 37] Pacific questions to the following: (1) open door for commerce with China; (2) the territorial integrity of China; (3) Shantung and questions relating to it; (4) leased territory in and around the Pacific Ocean.

Problems this conference should ignore but leave for later determination and action might arise as follows: (1) traffic in opium; (2) immigration; (3) possessions of Germany in the Pacific; (4) integrity of Russia.

If immediate questions could be confined substantially within this area, Curzon felt somewhat hopeful that without publicity quiet conferences could be arranged here; that the four Powers concerned—namely, United States, China, Japan, and British Empire with participation of Dominions—could arrive at some sort of an understanding. He was not certain regarding this because he had not yet consulted Hughes or Massey or Hayashi. However, under the circumstances, he considered it the best suggestion that could be evolved at the time looking toward a solution. If a virtual understanding could be reached as a result of such private consultations it might be comparatively easy to dispose of the entire Pacific matter in open conference at Washington within a period of time brief enough to be feasible.

Curzon was very earnest and appeared wholly sincere in desiring that the opportunity resulting from the general acclaim of President Harding’s proposal should be made the most of. … Upon this theory he should await indication of your suggestions and judgment respecting the general plan, possible amendments, and so forth.

This conversation followed a conference between Curzon and Lloyd George. Obviously the situation is not easy of solution but nevertheless the immense power of world public opinion is beginning to weigh heavily.

  1. Baron Gonsuké Hayashi, Japanese Ambassador to Great Britain.