Declaration Adopted by the Nine Power Conference at Brussels On November 15, 1937

Following is the text of the declaration adopted on November 15, 1937, by the Nine Power Conference at Brussels, Belgium. Italy voted against the declaration, and Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, while endorsing the general principles involved, abstained from voting.

"1. The representatives of the states met at Brussels having taken cognizance of the Japanese Government's reply of November 12, 1937 to the communication addressed to the latter on November 7, 1937 observe with regret that the Japanese Government still contends that the conflict between Japan and China lies outside the scope of the Nine Power Treaty and again declines to enter into an exchange of views for the purpose of endeavoring to achieve a peaceful settlement of that conflict.

"2. It is clear that the Japanese concept of the issues and interests involved in the conflict under reference is utterly different from the concepts of most of the other nations and governments of the world. The Japanese Government insists that as the conflict [is] between Japan and China it concerns those two countries only. Against this the representatives of the states now met at Brussels consider this conflict of concern in fact to all countries party to the Nine Power Treaty of Washington of 1922 and to all countries party to the Pact of Paris of 1928, and of concern in fact to all countries members of the family of nations.

"3. It cannot be denied that in the Nine Power Treaty the parties thereto affirmed it to be their desire to adopt a specified policy designed to stabilize conditions in the Far East and agreed to apply certain specified principles in their relations with China and, in China, with one another; and that in the Pact of Paris the parties agreed that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be which may arise among them shall never be sought except by pacific means.'

"4. It cannot be denied that the present hostilities between Japan and China adversely affect not only the material interests of nearly all nations. These hostilities have brought to some nationals of third countries death, to many nationals of third countries great peril, to property of nationals of third countries widespread destruction, to international communications disruption, to international trade disturbance and loss, to the peoples of all nations a sense of horror and indignation, to all the world feelings of uncertainty and apprehension.

"5. The representatives met at Brussels therefore regard these hostilities and the situation which they have brought about as matters inevitably of concern to the countries which they represent and- more-to the whole world. To them the problem appears not in terms simply of relations between two countries in the Far East but in terms of law, orderly processes, world security and world peace.

"6. The Japanese Government has affirmed in its note of October 27 to which it refers in its note of November 12 that in employing armed force against China it was anxious to 'make China renounce her present policy.' The representatives met at Brussels are moved to point out that there exists no warrant in law for the use of armed force by any country for the purpose of intervening in the internal regime of another country and that general recognition of such a right would avoid a permanent cause of conflict.

"7. The Japanese Government contends that it should be left to Japan and China to proceed to a settlement by and between them alone. But, that a just and lasting settlement could be achieved by such a method cannot be believed.

"Japanese armed forces are present in enormous numbers on Chinese soil and have occupied large and important areas thereof. Japanese authorities have decided in substance that it is Japan's objective to destroy the will and the ability of China to resist the will and the demands of Japan. The Japanese Government affirms that it is China whose actions and attitude are in contravention of the Nine Power Treaty; yet, whereas China is engaged in full and frank discussion of the matter with the other parties to that treaty, Japan refuses to discuss it with any of them. Chinese authorities have repeatedly declared that they will not, in fact that they cannot, negotiate with Japan alone for a settlement by agreement. In these circumstances there is no ground for any belief that, if left to themselves, Japan and China would arrive in the appreciably near future at any solution which would give promise of peace between those two countries, security for the rights and interests of other countries, and political and economic stability in the Far East.

"On the contrary there is every reason to believe that if this matter were left entirely to Japan and China the armed conflict-with attendant destruction of life and property, disorder, uncertainty, instability, suffering, enmity, hatreds, and disturbance to the whole world-would continue indefinitely.

"8. The Japanese Government in their latest communication invite the powers represented at Brussels to make a contribution to the stability of Eastern Asia in accordance with the realities of the situation.

"9. In the view of the representatives of the states met at Brussels, the essential realities of the situation are those to which they draw attention above.

"10. The representatives of the states met at Brussels are firmly of the belief that, for the reasons given above, a just and durable settlement is not to be expected of direct negotiations between the parties. That is why in the communications addressed to the Japanese Government they invited that Government to confer with them or with representatives of a small number of powers to be chosen for that purpose, in the hope that such exchange of views might lead to acceptance of their good offices and thus help towards the negotiation of a satisfactory settlement.

"11. They still believe that if the parties to the conflict would agree to a cessation of hostilities in order to give an opportunity for such a procedure to be tried, success might be achieved. The Chinese Delegation has intimated its readiness to fall in with this procedure. The representatives of the states met at Brussels find it difficult to understand Japan's persistent refusal to discuss such a method.

"12. Though hoping that Japan will not adhere to her refusal the states represented at Brussels must consider what is to be their common attitude in a situation where one party to an international treaty maintains against the views of all the other parties that the action which it has taken does not come within the scope of that treaty, and sets aside provisions of the treaty which the other parties hold to be operative in the circumstances."

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. 390-392.

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