Page images

which would be acceptable in their countries. The American proposition was very carefully considered and was worked out in conferences between Navy Department and Department of State, and American delegation has already expressed its willingness to agree to much larger total tonnage than either the American or Japanese Government believes essential. If Great Britain can, for her part, make concessions, the American delegation has full authority to act.

I have informed British Ambassador here that I am cabling you along these lines.”


500.A15 a 1/439 : Telegram The Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary

of State

GENEVA, July 16, 1927—2 p. m.

[Received July 16—10:30 a. m.] 100. It would be helpful for my guidance if [in] such future statements as may be necessary on short notice if I could have your criticisms of my statement before [at] second plenary meeting, 67 with indication of points which should in future statements be omitted, modified or stressed. As the situation arose on a few hours' notice I had to act on my best judgment, with full realization of the responsibility; but you will of course understand that whenever time permits I shall submit full text of remarks for your approval.


500.A15 a 1/445 : Telegram

The Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary

of State


GENEVA, July 18, 1927–3 p. m.

[Received 4:10 p. m.68] 105. This morning Bridgeman, Cecil, Ishii, and Saito met with me privately. The conversation was begun by Ishii by referring to previous informal talks between Admiral Field of the British delegation and Admiral Kobayashi of the Japanese delegation. He laid stress on the tentative nature of the previous conversations and said that naturally no definite agreement had been concluded but that the Japanese had cabled Tokyo a complete résumé of what had taken

" The second plenary session of the Conference was held July 14, 1927. Mr. Gibson's statement is printed in S. Doc. 55, 70th Cong., 1st sess., p. 48.

"Telegram in three sections.

place. Viscount Ishii then gave me a memorandum which contained all the items of their conversation. After looking over the Japanese memorandum, Mr. Bridgeman said that it was an exact résumé of the discussions as he had understood them. Substance of the memorandum follows:

1. Tonnage totals to be allocated to auxiliary fighting ships other than undersea craft:

(a) Admiral Kobayashi of Japan made the following suggestions: 484,000 tons for Great Britain, and 315,000 tons for the Japanese Empire.

(0) Admiral Field suggested the following figures: Japan 325,000 tons, and Great Britain 500,000 tons.

2. One-fourth of the tonnage totals in obsolete vessels shall likewise be retained.

3. There shall be a limitation in number fixed for cruisers of 10,000 tons: For America and Great Britain 12 each, and for the Japanese Empire 8.

4. Ships mentioned below shall be retained :

By the British Empire: The York, and 4 of the Hawkins type of cruiser;

By the United States: 10 Omaha-type cruisers;
By Japan: 4 of the Furutaka type.

5. Problem of building other cruisers mounting 8-inch guns: The Japanese Empire does not intend to lay keels of any more 8-inch-gun ships before January 1, 1937.

6. There shall be a maximum percentage agreed on to be allocated to cruisers and to destroyers.

7. Concerning submarines :

(a) According to the statement of Admiral Kobayashi, Japan would need approximately 70,000 tons of submarines.

(6) The figure of 60,000 tons of undersea craft for each of the three countries was proposed by Admiral Field.

This, you will observe, is almost identical with the report in my telegram No. 101 of July 17.69 Ishii, in explaining the memorandum, laid emphasis on the fact that the Japanese had reached the figure of 325,000 tons by adding 10,000 to the former total beyond which they had declared themselves resolved not to go, and by eliminating, on Admiral Field's suggestion, 10,000 tons of submarines. This change, he believed, would be welcome to the Japanese Finance Ministry since the cost per ton of submarines was far greater than for surface vessels.

I inquired, with reference to point 2, what the age limit of vessels was to be. The American suggestion of 16 years for destroyers and 20 years for cruisers was acceptable to Japan, Ishii replied. Bridgeman appeared uncertain as to this point but Cecil stated that it was his idea that the original Japanese proposal of 12 years for destroyers and 16 years for cruisers had been adopted. (While the matter seems

Not printed.

to have been left unsettled it is evident that the British would prefer the Japanese suggestions as to age limits to their own in view of their desire to retain a certain number of ships having reached the age limit.)

The ships named in point 4, it is pointed out, would come within the total limit of 500,000 tons. They were specially mentioned in order to indicate that they would be kept despite their being above the 6,000-ton figure desired by the British as the largest size below 10,000 tons. They would, of course, not be numbered among vessels dealt with in point 3, displacing 10,000 tons.

I was assured that there was no intention to depart from the idea of a treaty which should end in 1936. The Japanese delegation were asked by Cecil whether they attached great importance to parity in submarines mentioned in point 7 (6). Ishii unhesitatingly replied that Japan needed at least 60,000 tons but would raise no difficulty if the United States and Great Britain desired for themselves a larger figure. (Ishii's calm and lucid declaration leads me to infer that, despite the fact that Admiral Field had suggested it, Japan did not intend to stand out for equality in submarines.)

Concerning point 5, the American delegation stated that they would have opinions to give upon this, as the Japanese situation was different from that of the American in that on the basis of the proposals made the Americans would have available tonnage for 8-inch-gun cruisers whereas the Japanese would have no such tonnage. However, until we had had an opportunity to study the entire memorandum, I thought it wisest to postpone discussion of the question.

The communiqué which I quoted in my telegram No. 104, July 18,"o was drawn up in agreement between us at the end of the Conference and an arrangement was made for a meeting tomorrow morning for further discussion.

This telegram has been repeated to London for Embassy's information.


500.A15 a 1/439 : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation



WASHINGTON, July 18, 1927–6 p. m. 53. Your No. 100, July 16, 2 p. m. Appreciate fully the circumstances which necessitated preparation of your statement so as to

* Not printed; for text of the communiqué, see S. Doc. 55, 70th Cong., 1st sess., p. 172, par. 3.

25834642-vol. 13

conform to situation at last moment; there was, I know, insufficient time for you to submit it to me. I think it was a dignified, comprehensive, and moderate speech, and American press agrees with me in this opinion. My general criticism of it would be that there was tendency throughout to use general instead of specific terms in those places where exact meaning of a reference could not fail to be clear to hearers around the table but which might conceivably be obscure to world at large for whose benefit it was that British had urged the plenary session. That is to say, I see no reason why particular facts which display British attitude should not be set forth; for example, reference to fact that speedy, armed merchantmen are equivalents of cruisers with 6-inch guns and that United States has comparatively small number of such merchant vessels. I should also have laid stress on fact of British acceptance of cruiser and destroyer tonnage which was agreed to at Washington Conference on Limitation of Armament, at which no claim was made for greater tonnage, and that world conditions since that Conference have certainly not been more threatening than they were then and do not justify the enormous tonnage increases demanded. At point where you suggested that United States did not commence the building of 10,000-ton cruisers, 1 should have made specific statement that Great Britain had four 9,750-ton cruisers built between 1918 and 1925, of which two were built after Washington Conference; that since then twelve have been built, that two are now building and one laid down. These figures are taken from Chamberlain's statement to me. I should inquire what country would raid British commerce; against whom could British Government require increases in cruiser tonnage ? Especial emphasis should be laid on question of economy which British have been constantly bringing forward; it is important to show as you did that there is no economy in reducing unit sizes of battleships where the total tonnage remains the same, and the same observation applies to cruisers.

Should another plenary session become necessary I believe that a downright statement of facts to justify our conclusions is especially desirable; it is our desire, of course, to be courteous, but the facts should be stated no matter whom they hit.

Against the event that question of commerce raiders be again brought up in public session it is possible that it might be well to have prepared a list of the entire cruiser strength of all countries outside the three powers present at the Conference in order to see from what quarter Great Britain might have cause to fear that disturbances might come.

If Conference breaks up, then you should make a clear, specific statement of our position, stressing the points on which disagreement

exists, pointing out particularly the enormous increase that Great Britain may demand; the increase in original cost and maintenance; and that instead of decreasing or limiting burdens of taxation Great Britain's position would increase them. Statement should be as brief as can be, and should cover salient points; time should be taken for its preparation. It is difficult, I know, to frame such statement now, as first you have to know exactly points on which Conference might fail to arrive at agreement.


300.A15 a 1/446 : Telegram

The Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary

of State


GENEVA, July 18, 1927–11 p.m.

[Received July 19–5:03 a. m.] 106. A decision on certain specific matters will clearly be necessary if the memorandum cited in my telegram No. 105 of July 18 is to be outlined as a groundwork for further debate respecting surface vessels. These matters which we ask you to consider and upon which we would like to have instructions from you are: (1) The proportion allotted to Japan with relation to our own; (2) the question of guns of 8-inch caliber; (3) maximum unit tonnage of the suggested smaller cruiser type.

With regard to the first point, a proportion of 5–3.25 would result from the suggested figure of 500,000 tons of surface craft for the United States and Great Britain and 325,000 tons for the Japanese Empire. This ratio in the opinion of the naval advisers concedes too much and might gravely endanger the American western Pacific position. They believe that no departure from the 5–3 ratio should be permitted and draw your attention to the Navy General Board papers on the subject. A small advance over the 5–3 ratio might possibly be made if one or several smaller vessels were named or concession in destroyers were made but this is only proposed because the Japanese would be offended by our intransigence on the subject of ratio, which might frustrate further efforts to arrive at an agreement.

The proposed smaller category of cruiser and the nature of its armament is the really crucial point involved in the question of the 8-inch gun. Throughout the negotiations the British have been insistent that this category should be limited to guns of 6 inches, while our Naval advisers all agree that we must strictly maintain the right of placing 8-inch guns on the smaller class. This entails

« PreviousContinue »