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pass into the second group thus making room for new construction. The vessels which the Japanese would be able to place in the second group are generally of low combatant value and it is judged from their previous propositions that they feel they would be as satisfactorily situated without these vessels as with them. The Japanese have apparently acquiesced in this proposal in an endeavor to facilitate solution of the British problem. The only features of this plan which might make it deserving of consideration with a view to modification to meet our situation are that it tends to restrict new construction on the part of the nations and brings the tonnage of cruisers in first group within figures Japanese are apparently prepared to discuss.
An unsatisfactory feature of this proposal as presented is that the cruisers we have available for placing in the second group are of low combatant value and it will be impossible for us to derive any considerable benefit as far as cruisers are concerned from the additional [125,000 tons) during the life of the treaty as compared with Great Britain unless some satisfactory modification can be found. The Japanese, like ourselves, secure no substantial benefit from second group but they seem more interested in restricting first group to approximately 300,000 so as to make further new construction
In unofficial conversations, members of the Japanese technical advisory group have stated that they do not favor the plan for themselves and further that they recognize the plan as being obviously unfair to the United States in its present form. Ishii and Saito on the other hand seem favorably disposed to the plan but probably would not oppose modifications which would make it more equitable for us if such modifications did not force them to demand changes for themselves which would require new construction.
We are giving careful attention to this scheme and to modifications necessary to make it even a possible basis for discussion as we object to its camouflage features. We are working on modifications which will fully guard our interests and limit tonnage in a straightforward manner.
With respect to further point raised in paragraph 4, your 55, we think that British and Japanese would agree to some arrangement satisfactory to the United States for retention by Great Britain of the four Hawkins. This question has not yet been discussed as its solution will depend on the establishment of two classes of cruisers.
500.A15 a 1/474 : Telegram The Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary
GENEVA, July 22, 1927—1 p.m.
[Received July 23—11 a. m.] 114. Your No. 55, July 19, 4 p.m., in regard to adherence to the 5–3 ratio with Japan, as set forth in my telegram 106 of July 18.
In a recent informal conversation with some of the members of the Japanese delegation they expressed their regret that we had not taken up the question of ratio with them in detail and they indicated their fear that other questions would be settled, leaving unsettled only the question of ratio with Japan, and that if the Conference should then fail on account of American-Japanese disagreement on ratio this would bring about bad feeling between the two countries which they were most desirous of avoiding.
Hitherto we have refrained on purpose from discussing the ratio question with the Japanese in detail since our disagreements with British delegates seemed of such a fundamental nature that it would be bad policy to raise difficulties with the Japanese as well, particularly as we hoped for their support in reducing the exaggerated British tonnage demands and the maintenance of our freedom to arm with 8inch guns. However, in view of the possibility that the British delegation will be in a position to negotiate on these points upon their return it may be necessary for us to discuss ratios and tonnage with the Japanese at a very early date.
As you know, even before the Conference the Japanese were emphatic in their demands that they could not take home a treaty based on the minority ratio with any hope of obtaining ratification. Nevertheless, I have every reason for hoping that even the encouragement which British have given them to ask for a substantial modification of the ratio will not lead them to forget the fact that we for our part cannot expect ratification of any treaty which might substantially impair the principle of the ratio. This much has already been made very clear to the Japanese.
In all our discussions the Japanese have indicated that they hope to take home a treaty which will not require that they indulge in new construction other than that already planned. It is obviously to our interest that they maintain this position, particularly as it is their feeling that if the treaty gave them latitude in building, popular opinion would very likely compel them to do so.
* Telegram in two sections.
It is my opinion that a careful balance should be struck between the unfavorable results of a small change in the 5–3 ratio and the tangible gains arising from an agreement. Changes of a minor nature which would enable the Japanese Government to overcome their domestic political criticism while not invalidating the ratio principle should, I believe, receive careful study.
Would you object to expanding the instructions you originally gave us in such a way as to allow Jones and me to discuss with the Japanese, and refer to you for your decision, our ideas as to methods which might be adopted for reaching a compromise which would satisfy our justifiable demand for the maintenance of the 5–3 ratio as well as satisfying the Japanese necessity for meeting their domestic political objections?
You are, of course, aware of the Japanese dislike for the term "ratio" and we have therefore endeavored to discuss the matter in terms of tonnages while at the same time remaining hopeful of maintaining the actual ratio figure. You might consider coming to some reasonable adjustment on tonnage basis.
500.A15 a 1/475 : Telegram
The Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Secretary
GENEVA, July 23, 1927—2 p. m.
[Received July 23–1:50 p. m.] 115. Reference is made to my telegram No. 82, of July 12, 8 p. m., and to the next to the last paragraph of my telegram No. 108 of July 19, 5 p. m. The draft which follows is submitted with the hope that you will let us have your comments as to whether you consider objectionable a political clause similar to the one contained therein. The American delegation is conscious that a treaty without such a clause would be preferred and will suggest such a clause only should it prove to be the sole way of harmonizing our positive stand concerning freedom of action on armament with the British insistence that they will be compelled to ask for some rearrangement of the total tonnage limitation for cruisers if the United States persists in maintaining its right to build cruisers which will carry 8-inch guns.
As a practical thing, I do not believe the British would ever wish to make use of such an article or that our construction program would ever cause them any actual uneasiness and this was the only reason I suggested the possibility of such a clause. However, it is quite possible that an article of this nature might assist materially in obtaining
British ratification of any treaty which might be negotiated between the three powers at Geneva.
It should be understood, of course, that the draft given below is only a rough form of what such an article might include and an expression of your views in the premises would be appreciated : 78
"In event that prior to December 31, 1936, any one of the contracting powers shall consider that the tonnage allocation in the cruiser class has been utilized by any other of the contracting powers in a manner to call for an adjustment of the total tonnage allocation of that class, such high contracting party may at any time, subsequent to January 31, 1931, convoke a meeting of the Powers parties to the present treaty, with a view to ascertaining whether such an adjustment can be made by mutual agreement. In the event that no agreement is reached at such a conference, any of the high contracting parties may give notice of the desire to terminate the present convention and this notification shall be effective within one year after the receipt thereof by the other parties to the treaty. In such an event, the treaty shall terminate with respect to all of the parties thereto."
When this matter was discussed in the American delegation, the opinion was expressed that while it was improbable, from a practical standpoint, that a conference would be convened by reason of any program of American naval construction, nevertheless, such a clause might give rise to the objection that a pretext is given to bring diplomatic pressure designed to hamper legitimate construction.
This objectionable feature might be overcome by an article in which more general phraseology was used, similar to the rough draft given below: 78
"If, during the term of the present treaty, circumstances should arise which, in the opinion of any contracting power, materially threaten its national interests, the contracting powers will at the request of such power, meet in conference with a view to the reconsideration of the provisions of the present treaty and its amendment or abrogation by mutual agreement, provided that such request be made not less than 6 months prior to the time of meeting and the reasons for the request are fully set forth.”
500.A 15 a 1/475 : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation
WASHINGTON, July 25, 1927–11 a. Ma 61. Your No. 115, July 23, 2 p. m. I observe no particular objection to first political clause if necessity arises for it. In view of long
distance the Japanese have to travel and time required by both countries to prepare for conference it might be well that 6 months' notice be required before any meeting called under this clause be held; or, the clause might be made a part of general revision clause of the treaty.
500.A15 a 1/474 : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation
WASHINGTON, July 25, 1927—12 noon. 62. Your No. 114, July 22, 1 p. m. My No. 55, July 19, 4 p. m., answering your No. 106, July 18, 11 p. m., was intended to allow latitude for slight variations which were recommended by naval experts at Conference and reported in your No. 106, and which were approved here. Naturally we have no interest in the word "ratio” and would be willing to have it interpreted into actual tonnages. I should like to have recommendation of your naval advisers on how much variation they would recommend. Political question which must finally be decided is how far we could vary from Washington treaty without endangering treaty itself. Any substantial variation from the Washington treaty, as you can readily see, would at once be seized upon for opposition; on the other hand a variation arising naturally from inclusion of a certain number of cruisers would not be serious.
500.A15 a 1/487
President Coolidge to the Secretary of State
[Received July 27.] MY DEAR MR. SECRETARY: So far as I have been able to follow the course of the Conference, I have nothing but commendation for the position you have taken and the ability with which Mr. Gibson and the Admiral have presented our position. We have made a perfectly straightforward and candid presentation of a plan for limitation. I do not think we should deviate from it. If others are unwilling to accept it, we can very well be content with having made a fair proposal and leave others with the responsibility for its rejection. We should by all means keep our right to build such 10,000 ton cruisers