Memorandum of a Conversation between the Secretary of State and the British Ambassador (Geddes), June 23, 1921


Anglo-Japanese Alliance. …the Ambassador said that his Government was so taken up at present with the Imperial Conference that he supposed they had little time to think of anything else; that he thought it unlikely that any decision would be reached for some time with respect to a renewal of the treaty; that in all probability, while he could not speak definitely for his Government upon the point, the existing treaty would continue for another year and that a notice might be given by the British Government to Japan before July 13, 1921, to that effect; that this would give an opportunity for discussing modifications and determining what action should be taken. The Ambassador stated that there was really nothing more to say with regard to the present state of the negotiations, that he was speaking to the Secretary informally merely to advise him of what was going on, and that really nothing had yet been determined, and that in saying this he, of course, did not desire to close the matter if there was anything the Secretary desired to say in relation to it.

The Secretary said that he had no desire to make any formal representations with regard to a matter which was plainly one between Great Britain and Japan, but that the Ambassador probably was aware that the American people took a very deep interest in the matter. The Secretary said that he was speaking in a personal way and informally; that he thought, as he looked into the future, that there was only one serious source of difficulty in the Far East; that the United States was a cordial friend of Japan and that there were no questions between the United States and Japan which in the Secretary’s opinion could not be solved; that this Government had very clear policies in the Far East which had been frequently stated, and he supposed and hoped that Great Britain and the United States had the same view as they appeared to have the same interests; that the policy of this Government had embraced what had been called the “Open Door” policy and the integrity of China, and now in view of existing conditions also embraced the integrity of Russia; that, if the Secretary could speak freely in an informal and confidential way, he felt that if Great Britain and Japan had any arrangement by which Great Britain was to support the special interests of Japan, the latter might be likely, at the instance of the militaristic party, to be led to [Page 315] take positions which would call forth protests from this Government, and that in making such representations this Government might find itself virtually alone; that the making of such representations might be called for by American opinion and yet might be met with considerable opposition in Japan, leading to a state of irritation among the people in both countries; that such a condition of affairs would be fraught with mischief; that if it were true that the policies of Great Britain in the Far East were like our own there should be cooperation between Great Britain and the United States, and it should be possible for the United States to find complete support on the part of Great Britain in their maintenance and execution; that this was not an attitude antagonistic to Japan, but would be in her interests as in the interests of the peace of the world.

The Ambassador said that he was very much interested in what the Secretary said and he was particularly struck with the statement that cooperation would not be antagonistic to Japan and he wondered if it would be possible to have cooperation with Japan,—that is, on the part of the three nations. The Secretary said that he did not think the American people would approve any alliance with any nation or any agreement that could be interpreted as an alliance; that what the Secretary meant by cooperation was the having and maintaining common policies; that if we were agreed in policy there would be no difficulty as to the manner of cooperation in furthering the principles which we held in common.

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The Ambassador then asked whether the Secretary would have any objection to his sending a communication to his Government of the substance of what the Secretary had said. The Secretary said that of course what he had said he had meant, and the views he had expressed were the views he held, but that if the Ambassador intended to communicate them to his Government with the idea of their being used to formulate at this time a definite policy, he would like to give the matter further consideration and would advise the Ambassador later; that of course so far as the Secretary had expressed himself with regard to the general question of the renewal of the treaty, he had not the slightest objection to the Ambassador’s communicating those views to his Government if he desired to do so.

The Secretary also told the Ambassador that he had been advised that a resolution for the recognition of the Irish Republic would be introduced in Congress; that the resolution in the Secretary’s opinion would not pass but that it would be debated; that undoubtedly in the debate any relation between Great Britain and Japan could be seized upon by the enemies of Great Britain as indicating an attitude of disregard [Page 316] of what were believed to be the interests of this country, and would be made the most of, while action on the part of Great Britain indicating a desire to support the policy in the Far East to which this Government was committed, would give great aid and comfort to those who were opposing such a resolution.

  1. For portion of this memorandum which deals with Mexico, see p. 433.