Naval Limitation and Pacific Problems, 1921–1936

November 19, 1934

Report Outline
Obstacles to Success of 1935 Navalconference
Limitation of Naval Armament Since the War
Problem of the Pacific in 1935 Navalxs
European Aspects of Coming Naval Negotiations
Present Strength of Navies; Building Programs
Special Focus

Obstacles to Success of 1935 Navalconference

Notice of intention to terminate the Washington naval treaty on December 31, 1936, is expected from the Japanese government before the end of the current year. The London naval treaty of 1930 will expire by limitation on December 31, 1936. In accordance with treaty stipulations, the principal sea powers are to hold a conference sometime during the year 1935 to consider further limitation of naval armament by international agreement. Preliminary diplomatic discussions now being held in London have disclosed Japan's apparent determination to sign no new naval treaty which fails to accord her a status of equality with Great Britain and the United States. Since this country and probably also Great Britain are not prepared to grant this concession, the prospect for a successful outcome of next year's negotiations is now regarded as dubious.

Behind this major obstacle to conclusion of a new naval agreement lie problems which were sidestepped in 1930 but which cannot be so easily evaded in the 1935 conference. It is believed, for example, that Great Britain will not again become a party to an arrangement for limitation of submarines and light surface craft unless France and Italy are included within its scope. Serious differences of opinion with respect to such matters continue to separate the United Kingdom and the Continental powers, while no formula for satisfying Italy's demand for naval parity with France has yet been found. Hence if the three chief naval powers should belie present expectations by coming together on principles governing limitation among themselves, the European aspects of the problem would still remain to be settled.

The dark outlook for the forthcoming parley raises the possibility that international limitation of naval strength, hopefully instituted in 1922, will end completely at the close of the year 1936. Such an event, combined with the failure of all attempts to apply curbs on land armament, would signify the virtual collapse of the whole post-war movement for arms reduction. Fulfilment of the implied pledge given by the Allies in the Treaty of Versailles, which served as the basis of German disarmament, would then face indefinite suspension, creating a situation in which Germany would inevitably find renewed justification for disregarding the treaty restrictions. Considering only direct results, it now seems clear that failure of the 1935 conference would be followed by initiation of a naval building race limited by few bounds other than the financial capacity of the participants.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Navy
Jul. 23, 1976  Navy Rebuilding
Mar. 06, 1968  Sea Power and Global Strategy
Oct. 06, 1945  Army-Navy Consolidation
Oct. 02, 1941  Undeclared Naval Warfare
Oct. 25, 1939  Naval Blockades and Submarine Warfare
Nov. 20, 1935  American Naval Policy
Nov. 19, 1934  Naval Limitation and Pacific Problems, 1921–1936
Oct. 27, 1931  The Proposed Naval Holiday
Jul. 25, 1930  Military and Naval Expenditures
Jan. 16, 1930  The London Naval Conference
Sep. 28, 1929  The Anglo-American Naval Situation
Feb. 13, 1928  The 1928 Naval Building Program
Arms Control and Disarmament
International Law and Agreements
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific