The Japanese Embassy to the Department of State

With reference to the memorandum of May 4 which the Government of the United States delivered to the representatives in Washington of the British Empire, France, Italy, and Japan, requesting the governments of these countries to express their views as to the propriety of undertaking at the present time any such program of [Page 752] naval development in China as is contemplated by the Agreement of October 21, 1911, between the Chinese Government and the Bethlehem Steel Corporation of New York under which the Chinese Government have recently requested the corporation to enter into negotiations for the detailed supplementary agreements provided for in Articles 1 and 4 of the said Agreement and have further requested the Government of the United States to furnish the technical assistance contemplated by Article 5 thereof, the Japanese Government have the honor to reply as follows:—

It needs hardly be said that in China there is at the present time no central government of sufficient strength and stability really to rule the whole of the country, and that some of the influential local authorities, maintaining armies for their own ends, are indulging in strife, these contending influences being subject to incessant vicissitudes.

Under such a state of affairs the apprehension is by no means unwarranted that the assistance of foreign countries in the construction or improvement of China’s armaments in the interests of China as a whole might be turned by a particular Chinese party or faction to its own account and might thus have the effect of promoting internal strife in China, an effect entirely contrary to that intended. In other words, a program designed for the benefit of China might have unfortunate consequences for her people.

The Japanese Government accordingly take the view that the construction of naval vessels, arsenals and dockyards for the account of the Chinese Government or their administrative subdivisions or local authorities, or the giving of technical naval assistance, by foreign governments or their subjects or citizens, before the realization of peace and unity in China, is not only very undesirable, but that it is also contrary to the object and spirit of the Nine Power Treaty and the resolutions adopted by the Washington Conference regarding China.

Having been assured by the Government of the United States that pending the stabilization of political conditions in China no steps would be taken by the American Government in the execution of the Agreement in question, subject to the understanding that the Governments of the other countries and their subjects and citizens will likewise refrain from undertaking any similar naval development or technical assistance, it being understood that the American Government will assume the same attitude in other similar cases as in the present case, the Japanese Government are prepared to subscribe to the understanding referred to above, provided that a similar assurance be given by the Governments of the British Empire, France and Italy.