500.A15A/236: Telegram

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

24. At Simon’s request I called this afternoon with Atherton to talk with him and Craigie. Simon said that while he was skeptical of the possibility of reaching an agreement with the Japanese he thought we ought to exhaust every possibility to achieve it. With that in view, he and the Prime Minister were going to have another talk with Matsudaira and see if the Japanese would be satisfied with a face-saving preamble to a treaty that does not alter the actual status. This preamble would acknowledge inherent equality of sovereign rights, of self-defense, et cetera, but that naval needs are not necessarily equal but depend upon circumstances. The treaty would then establish the respective maximum programs which in practice would work out at the present relative strengths. Simon said that they did not wish to do this without consulting us.

I told Simon that before committing myself it would be necessary to consider very carefully the formula and to consult Washington but that my personal opinion was that if it were purely a face-saving formula which did not alter the actual relative strength or the basis upon which the present naval limitation rests, there would be no inherent objection. I further stated that I thought it most important to avoid any misunderstanding and to make it distinctly clear to the Japanese that if the maintenance of the present status could be made more palatable to them we would be glad to consider a method of doing so but if Japan could not be satisfied short of change in the status which would require a reopening of all the questions involved, there seemed to be no basis for agreement. I told Simon that the proposals of the Japanese indicated that they had adopted a basic change of policy and that therefore I did not believe they would accept a face-saving device. I also reminded him that the experience in trying to find a formula to satisfy Germany’s demand for equality of status67 had not been very fortunate and that it was essential to avoid a repetition with Japan.

[Page 326]

Simon said that he entirely agreed and that, while the Japanese would probably not accept it, he thought it well to raise the question to find out definitely where we stand.