Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)


A brief report compiled from notes taken by John Van A. Mac-Murray4 and L. Harrison5 of an informal and unofficial meeting held in the reception room adjoining the Secretary of State’s office on December 31, 1921.

  • There were present for the United States: The Secretary of State, the Under Secretary of State, Mr. John Van A. MacMurray, and Mr. Leland Harrison.
  • For the British Empire: The Right Honorable James Balfour, Mr. Brown, Mr. Sperling.
  • For France: Monsieur Sarraut, Monsieur Jusserand, Monsieur Kammerer.
  • For Italy: Mr. Rolando Ricci, Mr. Albertini, Mr. Celesia.
  • For Japan: Baron Shidehara, Mr. Saburi. For the Netherlands: Mr. Van Karnebeek, Mr. de Beaufort.
  • Interpreter: Monsieur Camerlynck.

Mr. Hughes explained that the meeting was unofficial and outside the Conference6—he had taken advantage of the presence of Mr. Van Karnebeek to invite the representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers to this informal meeting on his own behalf and on behalf of his Colleague Baron Shidehara.

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Mr. Hughes recalled the negotiations that had taken place between the United States and Japan regarding mandate rights in the Pacific7 and also the question of the cables in the Pacific,8 which were ceded to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers under the Treaty of Versailles.9

He was happy to say that a tentative agreement had been reached with his Japanese Colleague subject to approval by the other Principal Allied and Associated Powers regarding the allocation of the ex-German cables radiating from Yap.

His Colleagues would recall that the Netherlands also claimed an interest in these cables. He thought that the present might afford an opportunity to adjust the Netherlands interest.

Mr. Hughes then read the following tentative arrangement with Japan:

  • “1. The Yap–Shanghai cable to be assigned to and owned by Japan; the value of said cable to be credited by Japan to Germany in the reparation account conformably with the provisions in Part VIII, Section 1, Annex VII of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • “2. The Yap–Guam cable to be assigned to and owned by the United States; the value of said cable to be likewise credited by the United States to Germany.
  • “3. The Yap–Menado cable to be assigned to and owned by The Netherlands, in full and final satisfaction of all claims of the Nether-land Government and its Nationals respecting their interests in the German-Netherland Telegraph Company.
  • “4. Each country to operate both ends of the cable which it owns under the foregoing plans of allocation.
  • “5. Arrangements to be made among Japan, the United States and the Netherlands for the regulation of their connecting cable services at Yap.
  • “6. Japan to lay a cable between Naba and Shanghai, which is to be connected with the existing Yap–Naba section, so as to establish Yap–Naba Shanghai services; the means of connection to be determined by Japan, having in view the promotion of facilities of communication.
  • “7. The Shanghai end of the Yap–Naba–Shanghai cable to be brought into the Japanese Telegraph Office at Shanghai, which will undertake the receiving and delivery of messages passing over said cable; provided, however, that with regard to messages emanating from or destined to the Great Northern Telegraph system, suitable arrangements will be made between the Japanese Telegraph Administration and the Great Northern Telegraph Company for the transmission of such messages.
  • “8. The operation by the United States or by The Netherlands of its own cable at Yap to be free from all taxation or control at the hands of the local authorities.
  • “9. The Principal Allied and Associated Governments jointly to communicate with The Netherlands, China and the Great Northern [Page 764] Telegraph Company, in order to secure the necessary consent of each of these parties to the terms of the present arrangement in which such parties are respectively interested.”

Mr. Hughes then made brief comments and explanations on the foregoing terms and pointed out that inasmuch as it would be necessary to have a connecting service arranged at Yap, a supplementary agreement would have to take into consideration technical questions as to through messages, rates, services, etc. It was also clear that China would have to be consulted with regard to landing rights in Shanghai for the proposed Naba–Shanghai cable, as well as for the conditions for the operation of the cable at Shanghai in connection there with other services.

Mr. Hughes stated that it had been the earnest endeavor of his Japanese colleague and of himself to preserve the rights of all concerned in the plan which he now laid before his colleagues.

Mr. Hughes asked Baron Shidehara for comment.

Baron Shidehara stated that he had nothing to add to what Mr. Hughes had said.

Mr. Balfour ventured to express his congratulations to the United States and to Japan on the happy conclusion of this agreement which in its broad lines was entirely acceptable to the British viewpoint.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mr. Ricci stated that he must refer the proposed tentative agreement to his Government for instructions. Italy’s position de jure was the best of all of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, as she is entitled to a fifth of the German cables. Italy, at the present time, has in fact none of the ex-German cables. She could not be asked to assent to a partial allocation of cables in the Pacific without corresponding consideration in the Atlantic.

Monsieur Sarraut stated that the French Delegation welcomed this new understanding between the United States and France in settlement of their outstanding differences in this connection. Subject to the approval of his Government, he considered the arrangement entirely satisfactory. Mr. Hughes again explained that the present meeting was entirely informal, not to take the place of formal communications of the proposed arrangement, but merely to facilitate arrival at a satisfactory understanding.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  1. Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs.
  2. Leland Harrison, Foreign Service officer assigned to duty in the Department of State; appointed Assistant Secretary of State, Mar. 31, 1922.
  3. Conference on the Limitation of Armament; see Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1921, vol. ii, pp. 287 ff.
  5. See ibid., pp. 307 ff.
  6. Malloy, Treaties, 1910–1923, vol. iii, p. 3329.