HC Deb 15 November 1939 vol 353 cc686-7
6. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make available in the Library of the House the text of the statement he made recently concerning the relations between this country and Japan; and the text of the recent speech made in Tokyo by the Ambassador of the United States of America?

Mr. Butler

The statement by the Prime Minister concerning relations between this country and Japan, to which the hon. Member presumably refers, formed part of an interview which he recently gave to a Japanese journalist on the general situation in Europe. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT the passage at the end of this interview which related to the Far East. The hon. Member will have observed previous statements regarding the policy of His Majesty's Government towards the Far East, which remains unchanged. My Noble Friend would refer the hon. Member to published summaries of the recent speech made in Tokyo by the United States Ambassador. To make this speech available in an official form is not a responsibility which His Majesty's Government feel entitled to take upon themselves.

Mr. Mander

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that there will be no change in the policy of the British Government in the Far East towards China?

Mr. Butler

I have just said so in my reply.

Following is the passage:

Extract from interview granted to a Japanese journalist by the Prime Minister on 30th October,1939. Drawing the attention of the Prime Minister to the present deterioration in Anglo-Japanese relations, the writer pointed out that the most important task for Japan to-day is to push ahead with a settlement of the ' China Incident,' and the readjustment of Anglo-Japanese relations in China would contribute to this end. In reply to his question as to whether the British Government had any intention of re-opening the conversations with Japan that had been broken off, the Prime Minister said that he would be glad to consider any means of improving the relations between the two countries. He expressed his appreciation of the efforts being made by Sir Robert Craigie, the British Ambassador in Tokyo, a very capable and assiduous diplomat, for a better understanding between the two countries. Perhaps no one feels sorrier than I do about the deterioration of Anglo-Japanese relations, he said. He told the writer that before assuming his present office he had laboured hard for an improvement in this direction, and deeply regretted that circumstances had arisen to prevent his success. The writer expressed his opinion that a friendly gesture made by-Great Britain at this point might have a very favourable influence on the course of events. On his asking the writer what sort of gesture he envisaged, the writer explained that he had in mind the so-called ' English co-operation ' in China which had frequently been suggested by Japanese spokesmen when discussing the problem of England and Japan in China. The Prime Minister said that the English are not a people to entertain malice, and should Japan show understanding of their legitimate rights and interests they would not find the English people revengeful or unresponsive.