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While in Japan Mr Gareth Jones submitted a number of questions to the Naval Minister, Admiral Osumi and the War Minister, General Hayashi. Today we publish Admiral Osumi Mineo ’s answers.

(Interview March 4th 1935.  Published July 1935) 

What would you consider to be fair and just terms for a naval treaty with Great Britain and the United States? 

Japan is earnest in her desire for a new limitation treaty that shall be fair and just.   Japan, Great Britain, and the United States, the three leading sea Powers of the world face one another in the three important sections of the world and are in a position to co-oper­ate for the furtherance of world peace.  I believe they ought to shake off the shackles of past circumstances, discard competitive ideas and prejudices, stand on equal footing, and make united efforts for accomplishing the common mission of peace.

            So far as the problems concern the Navy, I think it is absolutely necessary to fix a common upper limit of fighting power for the three Powers by taking into account their geographical relation and the increased mobility of modern maritime, forces, and so to attain the common aim of co-operation.  As an answer to the universal desire for the limitation of armaments these great naval Powers should take the initiative in fixing such upper limit as low as possible, then proceed either to abolish or drastically to cut down those units characterised by formidable offensive power so as to render defence effective and offence difficult.  Thus they would pave the way to the consolidation of peace and the lightening of the financial burdens on all the peoples of the world.  This is our firm faith and will be the governing principle of our attitude in the forthcoming naval conference.

            Being convinced of the impossibility of reaching a just and fair agreement unless the parties approach each other in such a spirit, we must stand firm in our position, and I trust the U.S.A., England, and other Powers will appreciate the sincerity of our motives and give us their unstinted support.  Thus we think and feel and I do not believe the forthcoming conference will end in failure. 

What will be your policy in the event no treaty being reached? 

I do not wish to speculate on the basis of an assumption that the next con­ference is going to fail. 

Washington Treaty 

How would you explain Japan’s reasons for denouncing the Washington Treaty?  

The Washington Treaty was concluded under the peculiar circumstances following the Great War.  Fourteen years have since passed. Times have changed, manners as well.   The progress of science and new international develop­ments in that period have made the terms of that Treaty inadequate to meet the requirements of altered conditions 

Japan can no longer depend on that Treaty for security so we have taken steps to terminate it in strict accordance with the express provisions of that Treaty. 

Admiral N, Suetsugu states in the “Osaka Mainichi” (Quoted in the Far Eastern Review January, 1935): - Japan’s geographical position makes it impossible for any prospective invaders effectively to blockade the Island Empire.   Japan is an easy country to defend, but a difficult one to in­vade from without.   If this is so why does Japan claim a navy as big as that of U.S.A. or of Great Britain?

Newspapers are liable to misquotation. I do not care to comment on a newspaper story of this kind. 

Will not Japan’s financial situation force a reduction in naval expenditure? 

 A minimum of defence power is something absolute.  Our people fully understand it. 

What is your attitude towards the strengthening of the Singapore Naval Base? 

The Singapore fortification does not conflict with existing treaties. I do not like to touch on this subject. But, how would you feel if you were in the position of the Japanese people. 

What is your attitude towards American plans for developing bases in Alaska and on the Aleutian Islands? 

I do not wish to comment on this sub­ject in the light of mere newspaper reports.  With regard to the Aleutian group the provisions of the Washington Treaty remain effective to the end of 1936. 

What part would the Japanese Navy play in counteracting an air attack? 

The aerial arm of the Navy takes charge of the defence in co-operation with the floating units.  On the Navy first devolves the duty of fighting in defence against aerial attacks from overseas. 

Does Japan’s leaving the League of Nations mean that she with consider herself free to fortify the mandated islands in the Pacific? 

Our withdrawal from the League will not in any way affect our policy of strictly observing our obligations regard­ing the construction ef fortifications and naval and military bases in the mandated zone.                   

The Philippines 

Admirals Suetsugu states: “If America washes her hands of the Philippines as the rest of the world hopes, the islands door may be opened to ambitions young men, particularly from Japan for further developing the untapped resources of the island.”   Would the Japanese Navy be prepared to maintain the independence and neutrality of the Philippines, if that neutrality were guaranteed by an international treaty? 

Just as in the case of the earlier question I have nothing to say on this subject.  I will assure you it is co-existence and co-prosperity that Japan wishes to attain.  Aggressive thoughts are not with us. 

What would your attitude be towards the formation of a European Air Police Force? 

I wish all success to the formation of European Air Police Force. .


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