Chamberlain, Germany and Japan, 1933–4 by Peter Bell (auth.)

By Peter Bell (auth.)

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12 Chamberlain, note, was not actually suggesting renewal of the AngloJapanese Alliance, but he understood the vital strategic role it had played' in underwriting imperial security in an era when Britain could not easily safeguard her global position in isolation. He was, moreover, looking to diplomacy as a means of insuring Britain's weak position in the Far East, and of offsetting a formidable burden of armaments expenditure. Furthermore, although the German threat was not discussed on this occasion, it is clear from Chamberlain's subsequent development of his case for improved relations that he regarded insurance in the Far East as even more essential in view of the incipient danger at home.

Moreover, political instability made it risky for any French Government to avoid a hard line. Understandably, the French were not disposed to trust Hitler's word and viewed the departure from Geneva in the worst light. The British Government was fully appraised of French anxieties during October and November. The British Ambassador in Paris, Lord Tyrrell, reported in November that France believed no concessions, however extensive, could bring Germany back to Geneva, as she aimed to destroy the League.

Hirota appeared sincerely committed to improving relations and rectifying the damage of the Far Eastern crisis. 20 The Army Minister, Araki Sadao, also favoured good relations. Although no moderate, it is significant that he led the Kodoha faction, which advocated consolidation in Manchukuo and insurance against the Soviets. 21 His enthusiasm for cordial relations thus reflected the priorities identified by Lindley. There was also evidence that the overtures enjoyed the Emperor's backing. Japan's new attitude was revealed to the Commander in Chief of the China Station, Admiral Dreyer, on 29 September during a conversation with Araki.

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