500.A15a3/661: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan (Castle)


25. Your No. 14, January 31, 1 p.m.

1. The question you present involves problems both of facilitating the work of the Naval Conference and of the continuous conduct of relations with the Far Eastern countries. Mindful of the difficulties which arose in consequence of statements in the Lansing-Ishii notes23 and in the Anglo-Japanese Treaties of Alliance24 the Department feels that utmost care should be taken with regard to both substance and phraseology in any attempt to explain policy of the United States in relations with Japan in terms of American and Japanese policy in relation to China.

Careful consideration should be given to the effect not only in Japan but elsewhere of any statement which may be made. For example, it is likely that the statement “closer cooperation in forwarding our common aim to help China to achieve economic and political stability” would be misunderstood in China and would be susceptible to interpretations disadvantageous to us.

One might safely say, instead, that it is the desire of this Government, and we are assured and confident that it is also the desire of Japan, to see China achieve economic and political stability. In brief, we believe that it is not necessary to characterize or define our policy or aims with regard to China in terms of Japan’s policy or aims, and that it is desirable to avoid putting the two in the same brackets. The suggestion is offered that you emphasize the point that the China policy of this Government is completely defined in the Washington treaties of 1922, particularly the Nine-Power Pact relating to principles,25 [Page 13] and in the Kellogg Peace Pact,26 agreements which commit the United States and Japan to each other and to countries which are parties to these agreements and which are regarded in the United States as conclusive evidence that no country signatory to them has any aims regarding China likely to lead to armed conflict with any other.

2. Any statement regarding American naval plans should avoid mention, if possible, of any particular country. It would be safe to state officially at any time or place that the foreign policy of the United States rests on principles which preclude any thought on the part of either the American Government or the people of resorting to war as an instrument of policy.

3. We are repeating this telegram to London today.27 It is assumed that if the Secretary wishes to alter or to add to the suggestions made herein, you will in due course receive a further instruction.

  1. For Lansing-Ishii agreement of November 2, 1917, see Foreign Relations, 1917, p. 264; for cancelation of the agreement, see ibid., 1922, vol. ii, p. 591.
  2. For Anglo-Japanese alliance, see treaty of January 30, 1902. Foreign Relations, 1902, p. 514; treaty of August 12, 1905, ibid., 1905, p. 488; and treaty of July 13, 1911, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. civ, p. 173.
  3. Treaty signed at Washington, February 6, 1922, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 276.
  4. Treaty for the Renunciation of War, signed at Paris, August 27, 1928, ibid., 1928, vol. i, p. 153.
  5. Telegram No. 45, 5 p.m.; not printed.