Report of the United States Delegate to the Conference at Brussels (Davis)
DECEMBER 16, 1937.
The Belgian Government "in response to the request of the British Government and with the approval of the American Government" issued to the parties to the Nine Power Treaty an invitation to attend a conference at Brussels for the purpose "of examining in accordance with Article VII of the Nine Power Treaty, the situation in the Far East and to study peaceable methods for hastening the end of the regrettable conflict now taking place there." Also, after consulting other powers to the Treaty, it issued similar invitations to the Soviet Union and Germany.
All parties to the Nine Power Treaty, except Japan, accepted the invitation. Also, the Soviet Union accepted. Japan declined and Germany declined.
By this time it was realized that the task given to the Brussels Conference had been made additionally difficult by the fact that the League and the American Government had already delivered judgment upon Japan's course.
The American Delegate to the Conference received instructions in the form of a written instruction from the Secretary of State; an informal memorandum; oral instructions given by the President and the Secretary of State at the White House; and oral instructions given by the President at Hyde Park. The general purport of all of these instructions was to the effect that the policy to be followed must be consistent with the principles and provisions of the Nine Power Treaty and the general principles of American foreign policy as laid down especially in public statements of the Secretary of State and the President. There was no provision that any positive methods of pressure should or might be discussed at the Conference; but there
was also no express provision that such method should not be discussed, provided, however, that previously every effort to bring about mediation had been exhausted. In the written instruction, attention as called not only to the terms of the Belgian Government's invitation but also to statements of the Secretary of State and to the President's address at Chicago of October 5. In the conversations at the White House and at Hyde Park, especially the latter, the President emphasized to the American Delegate the view that if we are to avoid an ultimate serious clash with Japan some practical means must be found to check Japan's career of conquest and to make effective the collective will of those powers which desire that principles of law and order shall prevail and controversies between nations be regulated and settled by peaceful means rather than by use of armed force. The President emphasized the importance of mobilising moral force in all peace-loving nations and suggested a strategy of calling upon Japan repeatedly to come into conference and seek means for desisting from hostilities and submitting the issues between herself and China to peaceful processes of settlement. He suggested that the Conference might be given a prolonged life and that it might be made an agency or informing and educating public opinion by way of bringing to bear upon Japan every moral pressure directed toward bringing about a change in Japan's attitude and policy. Also, he suggested that the Delegation observe closely the trend of public opinion in the United States and take full account thereof. He realized the difficulties before us but hoped that the Conference might nonetheless produce constructive results either in its influence on Japan or in mobilising public opinion.
The outstanding achievements of the Conference were as follows:
1. Exchanging of views, among nineteen governments, enabling the delegates of each--and through them their governments--to obtain knowledge of the attitude and position of the others;
2. Demonstration of the unwillingness of Japan to resort to methods of conciliation;
3. Clarification of the fact that the Japanese continue to insist that the issues between Japan and China are exclusive to those two countries whereas the Conference Powers with the exception of Italy deny this and affirm that the situation is of concern to all of them and in fact to all members of the Family of Nations;
4. Express reaffirmation by the Conference Powers with the exception of Italy of the principles of the Nine Power Treaty.
5. Express serving of notice that the settlement ultimately arrived
at must be consistent with the principles of the Nine Power Treaty and satisfactory to the Conference Powers;
6. Express serving of notice that the Conference Powers will continue to concern themselves with the situation and that the Conference is not ended but is in recess and is subject to re-convocation.
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