Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Castle) of a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador (Debuchi)
The Ambassador called to say that he had at last heard from Baron Shidehara as to the possibility of calling a silver conference. Baron Shidehara told him that he had had many conferences with bankers and leading business men on the subject, that, although there was some difference of opinion, it, nevertheless, seemed to be the feeling of the majority that the present was not a time to call a silver conference unless the various governments concerned were prepared to go to the conference willing to make large compromises; it was obvious from the discussions the Japanese Ambassadors had had with the [Page 620]governments to which they are accredited that certain governments (meaning, of course, England and France) were distinctly opposed to a conference at this time; some governments felt that a conference might not only do no good, but actually make the silver situation more serious than it is at present. Baron Shidehara said that he greatly appreciated the suggestion of the American Government that a silver conference be held in Japan and that he always wanted to work in harmony with this Government; he felt that, if preliminary negotiations proceeded further, it might still be possible, at a later date, to hold a conference. He said that Baron Shidehara had asked particularly that I comment on this statement. I told the Ambassador that we fully understood the difficulties of the Japanese Government and that we appreciated the care with which Baron Shidehara had explored the ground. I said that we had felt that an international conference on the subject of silver would clear the ground and that it might well have resulted in something constructive and worth while, but that, of course, we realized this could be true only if the various interested governments went into the conference with enthusiasm and with willingness to make the necessary compromises. I told him that I realized that the British Government, in particular, did not approve of a silver conference at this time, that Ambassador Dawes had made that quite clear on his recent visit to Washington. I said that I also understood that the British would be in favor of an unofficial conference and that I hoped, if such a conference were called, Japan would wish to take part in it. I said that such an unofficial conference might, after a careful study of the question, make recommendations which would make clear that a solution of the question by the governments was possible and that, if these recommendations appealed, it might then be appropriate to call a fully official international conference.
The Ambassador apologized for taking so long in bringing an answer, but stated that the delay was not due to neglect of the question, but to a very careful study of the question in Japan.