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72 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered GENEVA, 3 October 1937, 5.31 p.m


For your own information only.

Long meeting of Sub-committee ended midnight Saturday [1] discussed in detail memorandum by the League of Nations Secretariat on the situation under three heads:-

(a) Facts with regard to the Japanese actions in China.

(b) Whether such actions constitute a breach of the Japanese obligations under the Boxer protocol [2], of [sic] [3] the Washington Treaties [4] and [the Treaty] of Paris. [5]

(c) Whether any justification for the Japanese actions on the grounds of self-defence.

The result of this examination now being considered and, findings will be discussed at meeting tomorrow morning. Clear will have to be down the lines that the Japanese actions far in excess of anything warranted by the situation, constitute the violation of treaty obligations and not justified on the grounds of self- defence. Probable at tomorrow's meeting the Sub-committee will also consider what action should be recommended in face of the findings. Present indications will be down the lines that further attempts at conciliations should be made, frank statement that, in view of the Japanese relations to the League of Nations, this cannot be undertaken by the League, recommendation for meeting of Powers, parties to the Nine Powers Pact, to consider the possibility of conciliation and, if this impracticable, to consider whether any other action could be usefully taken. The League indicates its preparedness to co-operate in any practicable way in the efforts of conciliation or any other action suggested.

The above is the present position, but as now the subject of conversation between the British representatives at Geneva and London may be drastically revised before tomorrow. The dominating point is that the British are determined not to be forced into any action that the United States not equally committed to.


1. 2 October 1937.

2. The Boxer protocol of 7 September 1901 provided that China should make reparation to the foreign powers whose interests had suffered in the Boxer rebellion and should guarantee those powers access to China in the future.

3. ?Or.

4. See Document 33, note 9.

5. The Pact of Paris or the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 27 August 1928, by which the signatories (including Japan) renounced war as an instrument of national policy.

[AA : A981, CHINA 114, ix]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History