HC Deb 07 February 1938 vol 331 cc646-8
5. Sir Charles Cayzer

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received confirmation from His Majesty's Ambassador in Tokyo that the Japanese Government are proceeding with the construction of capital ships in excess of the tonnage laid down in the London Naval Treaty; and whether, in consequence, consultations with the other signatory powers of the London Naval Treaty have taken place, or are about to take place?

14 and 15. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether any report has been received from the British Ambassador at Tokyo respecting the suggestion that Japan is constructing or intends to construct capital ships of 43,000 tons; and, if so, the nature of such report;

(2) whether diplomatic conversations are taking place regarding the future of the London Naval Treaty of 1936, which fixed 35,000 tons as the limit for battleships; and whether he can make any statement on the matter?

Mr. Eden

There have for some time been persistent and cumulative reports that Japan, who did not see her way to adhere to the London Naval Treaty of 1936, is constructing, or intending to construct, both capital ships and cruisers not in conformity with the qualitative limitations fixed in that Treaty, by which the French Government, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the United States Government are all bound. Similar provisions are also contained in the Anglo-German and Anglo-Soviet Agreements concluded last year. In view of these reports, the French, United Kingdom and United States Governments have decided, after an exchange of views, to instruct their respective representatives at Tokyo to inform the Japanese Government that, unless the latter can furnish explicit assurances showing the above-mentioned reports to be unfounded, France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America must thereupon resume their liberty of action, in consultation, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, with the other Naval Powers with whom they are in treaty relations. Representations in this sense were independently addressed to the Japanese Government on 5th February by the French, British and United States representatives at Tokyo, and the situation will be further examined in the light of the Japanese reply. His Majesty's Government have kept the German Government and the Soviet Government fully informed of this action throughout. The text of His Majesty's Government's representations to the Japanese Government has been made public.

Sir C. Cayzer

In the event of no reply being received from the Japanese Government by 20th February, can my right hon. Friend say that this country will be in a position to resume full liberty of action before the publication of this year's Navy Estimates?

Mr. Eden

If my hon. Friend will study the terms of my answer and of the Note, I think he will find the answer to his supplementary question.

Mr. A. V. Alexander

Do we understand that a reply has now been received from the Japanese Government, and will the right hon. Gentleman communicate it?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir; we have received no reply.

Mr. Benjamin Smith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Press to-day states that the Cabinet of Japan have met and have, in fact, given a negative reply?

Mr. Eden

I said that no reply has been received by His Majesty's Government.

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