88 Commonwealth Government to Mr M. MacDonald, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 85 28 October 1937,

Your telegrams of 18th and 19th October, Circulars B.113 and 114.

[1] Following are views of Commonwealth Government on measures to be taken at Brussels Conference.

It appears, that the choices mentioned and especially (c) are hardly applicable as Recommendation of Advisory Committee which was adopted by General Assembly was to consult on the basis of conciliation with view to settlement of dispute by agreement. It was on this understanding that Commonwealth Government accepted the invitation. Commonwealth Government moreover notes that possibility of other means of effecting settlement was not overlooked but it was contemplated such proposals were to be submitted through the Advisory Committee to General Assembly which is clearly indicated by session being adjourned and not closed.

There is no obligation by the signatories of the Nine Power Treaty to take positive action such as mentioned under (c).

In any case doubtful if any such proposals could be made effective even if supported and acted upon by all States members of League as well as by all members of Brussels Conference.

Information received subsequent to cablegram under review indicates that Japan would be prepared to discuss a settlement with a single power as mediator, but would resent any attempt settlement which savoured to her of dictation or interference by a number of Powers. For this reason invitation to attend Conference would be refused.

Thus a settlement by agreement immediately arising from the Conference appears out of the question and best hopes appear for Conference to delegate one or two of the members to act as mediator.

A further moral censure on Japan or proposal for economic boycott by the Conference would at this stage probably antagonise and harden feeling in Japan to such an extent as to preclude any possibility of a settlement.

Commonwealth Government feels that it cannot at this stage commit itself to any course beyond that of conciliation and agreement.

If, however, Conference feels itself impelled to discuss other measures and to make definite proposals or recommendations they should be submitted to League through Advisory Committee which will afford Governments an opportunity of further considering the position.

1 Documents 82, 83

[AA : A981, CHINA 116]