Statement by the Secretary of State on the Netherlands Indies, April 17, 1940

I have noted with interest the statement by the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs expressing concern on the part of the Japanese Government for the maintenance of the status quo of the Netherlands Indies.

Any change in the status of the Netherlands Indies would directly affect the interests of many countries.

The Netherlands Indies are very important in the international relationships of the whole Pacific Ocean. The islands themselves extend for a distance of approximately 3,200 miles east and west astride of the Equator, from the Indian Ocean on the west far into the Pacific Ocean on the east. They are also an important factor in the commerce of the whole world. They produce considerable portions of the world's supplies of important essential commodities such as rubber, tin, quinine, copra, et cetera. Many countries, including the United States, depend substantially upon them for some, of these commodities.

Intervention in the domestic affairs of the Netherlands Indies or any alteration of their status quo by other than peaceful processes would be prejudicial to the cause of stability, peace, and security not only in the region of the Netherlands Indies but in the entire Pacific area.

This conclusion, based on a doctrine which has universal application and for which the United States unequivocally stands, is embodied in notes exchanged on November 30, 1908, between the United States and Japan in which each of the two Governments stated that its policy was directed to the maintenance of the existing status quo in the region of the Pacific Ocean. It is reaffirmed in the notes which the United States, the British Empire, France, and Japan-as parties to the treaty signed at Washington on December 13, 1921, relating to their insular possessions and their insular dominions in the region of the Pacific Ocean-sent to the Netherlands Government on February 4, 1922, in which each of those Governments declared that "it is firmly resolved to respect the rights of the Netherlands in relation to their insular possessions in the region of the Pacific Ocean."

All peaceful nations have during recent years been earnestly urging that policies of force be abandoned and that peace be maintained on the basis of fundamental principles, among which are respect by every nation for the rights of other nations and nonintervention in their domestic affairs, the. according of equality of fair and just treatment, and the faithful observance of treaty pledges, with modification thereof, when needful, by orderly processes.

It is the constant hope of the Government of the United States-as it is no doubt that of all peacefully inclined governments-that the attitudes and policies of all governments will be based upon these principles and that these principles will be applied not only in every part of the Pacific area; but also in every part of the world.

Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 515-16

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