Japanese Policy in Asia

May 11, 1934

Report Outline
Impending League Action on the Far East
Underlying Bases of Japanese Foreign Policy
Asiatic Monroe Doctrine Vs. The Open Door
Conflicting Japanese and Russian Interests

Impending League Action on the Far East

Two Committees of the League of Nations dealing with Far Eastern affairs are to meet at Geneva during the Council session opening on May 14. The special committee created by the Council last July to coordinate League activities for the economic reconstruction of China will consider the report of Ludwig Rajchman, its technical delegate in charge of that work. At the same time, the Assembly's Far Eastern Advisory Committee, established at the end of February, 1933, following adoption of a report on the Manchurian incident based on the findings of the Lytton commission, will take up operation of the non-recognition policy as applied to the postal service of Manchukuo. The United States is officially represented on both committees, although its delegates do not vote.

Cooperation of the western powers in extending technical aid and counsel to China through the League has been regarded with displeasure and suspicion in Japan. Impending consideration of the work already done and of plans for its continuance is believed to have motivated in large part the sensational statement of Eiji Amau on April 17. The spokesman of the Tokyo Foreign Office then declared that Japan must object as a matter of principle to “any joint operations undertaken by foreign powers fin China], even in the name of technical and financial assistance,” and that “although she will not find it necessary to interfere with any foreign country's negotiating individually with China on questions of finance or trade as long as such negotiations benefit China and are not detrimental to peace in Eastern Asia,” she would oppose such projects as the supplying of war planes, the building of airdromes, the detailing of military instructors or advisors, and the contracting of loans for political uses.

Foreign Powers' Reaction to Tokyo Declaration

Amau's statement, amounting to unofficial declaration of a “Hands-off-Asia” policy, caused Sir John Simon, British Foreign Secretary, promptly to remind Japan that the Nine-Power treaty guaranteed to all its signatories equal rights in China. Secretary of State Hull subsequently communicated to Japan a statement of the position of the United States in which he observed that “no nation can, without the assent of the other nations concerned, rightfully endeavor to make conclusive its will in situations where there are involved the rights, the obligations, and the legitimate interests of other sovereign states.” France also sent Japan a note in support of the Nine-Power treaty. The forthcoming meetings of the League's Far Eastern committees will provide opportunity for the western nations collectively to clarify and reaffirm their views with respect to China and with respect to treaty rights and obligations in the Orient. The League has already indicated that it will proceed with its work of collaborating in the economic rehabilitation of China.

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Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific