The Ambassador in Japan (Grew) to the Secretary of State

No. 1076

Sir: I have the honor to report that a press despatch from Geneva dated November 12 stated that the League of Nations Mandates Commission would take note of reports concerning the alleged fortification of Japan’s mandated islands in the South Seas. This report evoked a flat denial from the Japanese Foreign Office that Japan had established military structures on the islands, according to the Japan Advertiser and the Osaka Mainichi of November 15. The substance of the oral statement given to the press by the Foreign Office spokesman on November 14 is as follows:

In exercising control of its mandated islands Japan has strictly observed the regulations of the mandate and has in no circumstance deviated from these regulations.
Japan has never established military structures on the islands and has taken no measures that violate the fortification provisions in the Washington Treaty.47
The League of Nations has no ultimate authority over Japan’s mandated territory. The supreme control of all the mandates belongs to the allied council of five Powers, namely, Great Britain, the United States, France, Italy, and Japan. Japan will continue to administer the islands after it ceases officially to be a member of the League of Nations in March, 1935.
Upon Japan’s withdrawal from the League her obligation to follow the League of Nations mandatory regulations will expire, but Japan is willing as heretofore to send an annual report on its administration of the mandated islands to Geneva and to participate in various meetings to be held from time to time regarding mandatory questions.

The Japanese Navy’s firm determination to retain the South Sea Islands under Japanese mandate at any cost was expressed on November 15 by Vice-Admiral Sankichi Takahashi, the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, according to the Japan Times of November 16, 1934. Interviewed by newspaper correspondents, Admiral Takahashi is reported to have stated that the Japanese Navy was thoroughly prepared against the eventuality that Powers belonging to the League might attempt forcibly to remove these islands from the jurisdiction of Japan.

Respectfully yours,

Joseph C. Grew
  1. See article XIX of the naval treaty signed February 6, 1922, Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 247.