500.A15A5/221: Telegram

The Chairman of the American Delegation (Davis) to the Secretary of State

12. 1. Your telegram No. 6, October 25, 6 p.m., is very helpful for my guidance. Unquestionably the rigidity of the Japanese position and the publicity which they are giving to their proposals are diminishing the possibilities of agreement. This is having a marked effect on the British as evidenced by the attitude of MacDonald and Simon reported in my 9, October 25, 4 p.m., and as reflected in today’s press. After agreeing that my visit to MacDonald yesterday should be treated as personal the British reported it to the press as formal and official and the Times in reporting it makes the suggestion that three-cornered conversations will soon become useful.

2. In reply to a report published here yesterday from Tokyo that Sir Charles Seligman of the British trade mission in Japan had indicated that England might renew the Anglo-Japanese alliance, the principal papers here this morning suggest that utterances of this sort are leading the United States to doubt England’s good faith, deny that the Federation of British Industries mission is in any sense official and take the occasion to emphasize a community of views in the naval conversations of England with the United States.

3. I am informed in confidence from the Foreign Office Press Section that the Seligman statement was grasped as an opportunity to dispel any illusions as to an Anglo-Japanese alliance and to affirm a close approximation of British and American naval policies. In this manner a direct attack on the British Industries mission was avoided. Moreover, this was done with a view of conveying the impression of a solidarity of Anglo-American position, without a direct declaration thereof, in order to spare the Japanese feelings.

4. MacDonald told me yesterday that, in view of the Japanese attitude they have decided not to outline to them as fully and frankly as they did to us their own views as to naval requirements.

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5. If the Japanese remain irreconcilable and the British hold to the same position as we can do I think it is well to defer for the present preparing the stage for publicity of the President’s letter to me56 since it might cause a public divergence with the British and would not in any event lose any of its vigor through delay.

  1. Mr. Davis incorporated President Roosevelt’s letter of guidance in his speech before the first plenary session of the London Naval Conference, December 9, 1935; for text of letter, see Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 282.