511.4 A 2/173

The British Ambassador ( Howard ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1118

Sir: I have the honour to inform you, by direction of Mr. Secretary Chamberlain, and with reference to previous correspondence regarding the international control of narcotic drugs, that the Japanese delegation at the Geneva Opium Conference have proposed that the Powers should be obliged to allow the export or transhipment of opium on production of import certificates, and have attacked His Majesty’s Government for refusing to honour suspicious certificates for export from Hong Kong to Formosa.

When the British delegate of the Conference above mentioned declared that His Majesty’s Government could not abandon their right to refuse to sanction the export of opium at their discretion, the Japanese delegation stated that they had positive instructions not to sign the Convention unless their demand was satisfied. The Conference has accordingly been adjourned until November 21st and is in grave danger of breaking down altogether.

In these circumstances, His Majesty’s representative at Tokio has been instructed to express to the Japanese Government the surprise which my Government feel at the attack referred to above and, at the same time, to urge that the matter is one for negotiation between the two Governments concerned and not for submission to the Conference. His Majesty’s Government cannot abandon their right to refuse to sanction the export or transhipment of drugs in cases where such action is deemed advisable, especially in view of the unfortunate incidents which have occurred in the past at Formosa and in Mongolia. [Page 103] My Government realize, however, that the question of the prestige of the Japanese Government may be thought to be involved and the former are therefore prepared to consider a compromise on the following lines.

While reserving their right to scrutinise permits in special cases, His Majesty’s Government might be disposed to agree to accept such permits as a matter of usual routine up to a yearly maximum to be decided upon by mutual agreement, if necessary with the approval of the League of Nations. This procedure would be an extension of the “Direct Sales Agreements” which the Government of India already make with other countries and which His Majesty’s Government have endeavoured to negotiate with Japan, their efforts in this direction having failed owing to the refusal of the Japanese Government to furnish information regarding the opium and morphia industry in Formosa, In bringing this suggestion to the notice of the Japanese Government, His Majesty’s representative at Tokio has been instructed to emphasize that, if the plan in question should be , His Majesty’s Government would require full information such matters.

Government feel that the present opium conference at Geneva , however, be held up for such negotiations, and the attention of the Japanese Government is being drawn to the deplorable impression that will be created if the latter wreck the said conference on such a question, when their record in regard to the control of drugs remains open to certain criticisms.

In communicating to you the substance of the instructions which have been despatched to His Majesty’s representative at Tokio, I am directed to express the hope that the United States Government will be disposed to support both at Tokio and at Geneva the attitude of His Majesty’s Government in regard to this question, as Mr. Secretary Chamberlain feels that American public opinion could justly criticise His Majesty’s Government were they to contract out of their responsibilities in the manner desired by the Imperial Japanese Government.

I have [etc.]

(For the Ambassador)
H. G. Chilton