HC Deb 30 April 1934 vol 289 cc13-4

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state the nature of the communication which he has made to the Japanese Government with the object of clarifying the position of His Majesty's Government with regard to the statement made to the Japanese press by a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the question of Japanese interests in China; and whether he has received any reply from the Japanese Government?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now make a statement on the reply of the Japanese Government to the inquiries addressed to them by His Majesty's Government on Tuesday last?


The communication of His Majesty's Ambassador in Tokyo to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs on 25th April, which, as I informed the House the other day, was a friendly inquiry, was to the effect that the principle of equal rights in China was guaranteed very explicitly by the Nine Power Treaty of 1922, to which Japan is a party, and that His Majesty's Government must, of course, continue to enjoy all rights in China which are common to all signatories or are otherwise proper, except in so far as their rights were restricted by agreements such as the consortium agreement, or in so far as Japan had special rights recognised by other Powers and not shared by them.

Sir Francis Lindley added that the anxieties regarding China expressed in the Japanese statement could not apply to the United Kingdom, since it was the aim of British policy to avoid the dangers to peace and the integrity of China to which the statement referred. His Majesty's Government naturally could not admit the right of Japan alone to decide whether any particular action, such as the provision of technical or financial assistance, promoted such a danger, if that had indeed been the implication of the statement, which they did not believe. Under Articles 1 and 7 of the Nine Power Treaty, Japan had the right to call the attention of the other signatories to any action in China inimical to her security. This right provided Japan with safeguards and His Majesty's Government therefore assumed that the statement was not intended in any way to infringe the common rights of other Powers in China nor to infringe Japan's own treaty obligations.

In reply Mr. Hirota, the Japanese Foreign Minister, indicated that His Majesty's Government were correct in this assumption. He assured His Majesty's Ambassador that Japan would observe the provisions of the Nine Power Treaty and that the policy of the Japanese Government and of His Majesty's Government in regard to the treaty coincided. His Excellency stated, in conclusion, that Japan continued to attach the greatest importance to the maintenance of the open door in China and re-affirmed her acceptance of that policy.


Has our Ambassador at Tokio asked for, or obtained, any kind of explanation of the numerous statements issued by the Press Officer of the Japanese Foreign Office or by the Ambassadors of Japan at Washington and Berlin, and the representative also at Geneva, which seem to conflict with the statement of Mr. Hirota?


One must not assume that the information which reaches readers of the Press and every Press statement are authorised. I think that the statement made by the Japanese Foreign Minister is reasonably clear, and His Majesty's Government are content to leave this particular question where it is. I would only add that His Majesty's Government are resolved to assist to the utmost possible extent the spirit of international co-operation in the progress of China towards peace and prosperity, and the maintenance of the spirit of harmony and good will in the Far East.

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