500.A15A5/611: Telegram

The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State


9. The following is for transmission to London for Davis.

After a six-hour conference between the Foreign Office and Navy officials last night the Cabinet approved this afternoon final instructions [Page 291]to Nagano.26 In order to avoid blame for the complete rupture of the Conference, I understand, the Foreign Office was able to secure Japanese continuance therein, although Navy officials were prepared to break it up by withdrawal. Nagano’s instructions are to make clear Japan’s proposal to provide real reduction, it is reported, but that she will not discuss qualitative apart from quantitative reduction, nor will Japan enter into temporary agreements which would continue inequalities. The Japanese delegates may remain in effect as observers, however, and in the later phase of the Conference when the subject of submarine warfare and other subsidiary subjects are discussed may participate. There has been no definite confirmation of the foregoing report.
While wishing to avoid forcing a formal vote on quantitative limitation which would oblige Japan to withdraw from the Conference and thus accept the onus for a complete break, it is my belief that the Foreign Office will nevertheless welcome a final and definite clarification of the parity issue so that some new program involving political agreements may be set in motion and this chapter closed. …
Owing to the discrepancy in views between the Navy and the Foreign Office and the consequent lack of unanimity in the Government regarding methods and tactics, though not in point of general objective, the situation here is shrouded in the usual fog. It is obvious that the Japanese Navy in demanding parity had the American Navy principally in view but neglected to foresee the European complications which their attitude would create. A reconsideration of the parity issue is for them out of the question and, having burned their bridges, we may now expect to see the possibility of finding some alternative of a political nature being explored by the Foreign Office.
  1. Admiral Nagano, chairman of the Japanese delegation.