500.A15A5/246: Telegram

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

26. Yesterday Craigie called to inform us about the meeting with the Japanese on the previous day. In substance the British had stated that the idea of a common upper level was unacceptable to them for the reasons that they had already outlined to the Japanese. They desired, however, to give Japan such comfort in regard to prestige as might be practical and to this end had been thinking that a possible solution might be worked out somewhat as follows: There should be a formula recognizing the equality of status of the contracting powers. This formula would add, however, that because of their difference in needs each nation would not consider it necessary to build up to the point to which the other or others might have reached and the fact that they might not have built up was by no means to be considered as a denial of the right of parity. This formula should be followed by a “voluntary” declaration whereby each nation after agreement with the others sets forth its building program which should be a contractual obligation as a part of the treaty.

In order to make it doubly certain that any reference to the building program should be of a contractual nature I recalled to Craigie the fact that in my recent conversation with Simon (see my 24, November 6, 9 p.m.) I had insisted upon the fact that a contractual agreement on building programs was indispensable and that there should be no change in the relative strength if the agreement was to have any value.

In reply to a question as to whether it was true, as reported in the press, that the British had also discussed with the Japanese a rearrangement of categories in order more effectively to hide the ratio, Craigie replied that they had not discussed this.

Craigie explained that Yamamoto had subsequently called on the First Sea Lord. While Craigie had not seen the minutes of the meeting, he understood that Yamamoto has merely desired to clear up certain points of the British suggestion in regard to which he had been in doubt and had given the First Sea Lord to understand that the proposals were unacceptable to the Japanese.