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Historical documents

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

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

1 Documents 82, 83

[AA : A981, CHINA 116]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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