Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Castle) of a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador (Debuchi)

I sent for the Ambassador to discuss once more the question of a silver conference. I asked Mr. Debuchi whether he had had any word from Toyko as to the possibility that Japan might be willing to call an international silver conference. He said that he had telegraphed the substance of our former conversation and had urged Baron Shidehara for an answer, but so far he had received nothing. He said that he knew that both Baron Shidehara and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Inouye, were in favor of calling such a conference, but that there was certain opposition on the part of Japanese bankers. He then said that, although he had no right to discuss what others than his own Government were saying, he thought it only fair to tell me that, in consequence of our suggestion to call a conference, the Japanese Ambassadors in London and Paris had been instructed to consult the governments to which they were accredited and he said that he felt that this accounted for the delay since Mr. Matsudaira in London had had no encouragement, the British feeling that this was not the appropriate time to call such a conference. He said that Mr. Yoshizawa in Paris had met much the same attitude on the part of the French authorities, but quickly added that the principal opposition was in London. In connection with this he said that the desire of the Chinese to call a conference had obviously cooled. I asked him whether it was the result of the summer war fever, but he said, on the contrary, that he thought it was the influence of British bankers, probably instructed from home, on Chinese bankers in Shanghai. I told the Ambassador that I felt sure, nevertheless, that if the Japanese should call a conference, at which we should certainly be well represented, the other nations would be compelled to join in. Mr. Debuchi said he agreed with this.

He then asked me why the President wanted a conference at this time. I told him I could hardly interpret the President’s feeling in the matter, but that I believed he felt that a silver conference would be one step toward a solution of pressing world economic problems, that he believes strongly in attacking a great issue of this kind subject by subject and that he would be glad, therefore, to see the silver angle attacked in this way.

The Ambassador said he would again telegraph the Foreign Office, but that he wanted to do it in such a way that he would not get a negative [Page 619] answer, since he felt there was hope, until a direct negative came, that Japan might finally call the conference.

He promised to keep me informed of anything he might hear.

W[illiam] R. C[astle, Jr.]