Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Moffat) to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)

Mr. Phillips:

Mr. Secretary: The Counselor of the Japanese Embassy, Mr. Taketomi, came to see me this afternoon to ask whether I could give him any information as to the press reports that the British Government was objecting to our building program.

I told him that I could give him the following information which is strictly confidential: That ever since 1927 the British Government and ourselves had differed somewhat in our outlook on naval reduction, our Government emphasizing quantitative reduction, while the British Government emphasized a qualitative limitation on the size of future ships; that in the MacDonald plan7 now under consideration at Geneva was a provision for consideration by the Permanent Disarmament Commission of the qualitative limitation of future ships. In the circumstances, the British Government had called to our attention the fact that our naval program contained the laying down of four six-inch gun cruisers of a larger tonnage than was heretofore in existence and had intimated that this would create a type of ship which they were hoping would not exist in the future.

He asked whether the American Government was in doubt as to what its answer would be. I told him that thus far we had merely received the intimation of British interest and that was as far as the matter had gone.

I spoke with considerable care and the above is a very close rendition of what I said.

He then asked about discussions that were going on in Paris between Mr. Davis, Daladier,8 Eden,9 et cetera, and remarked that, of course, the Japanese Government followed everything concerning disarmament with great interest and care.

Pierrepont Moffat
  1. League of Nations, Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, Conference Documents, vol. ii, pp. 476–493; see also telegram No. 569, March 17, noon, from the Acting Chairman of the American delegation, p. 43.
  2. Édouard Daladier, President of the French Council of Ministers.
  3. Anthony Eden, British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.