9. 2 The Washington Conference
One of the major achievements of the Hardinge foreign policy was the attempt to reduce armaments. The Washington conference opened on November 12, 1921 under the chairmanship of Hughes, the Secretary of State. The conference was summoned to address the questions of the Pacific and of the Far East, along with issue of disarmament.
Nine countries attended this conference: the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Belgium, China and Japan. At the inaugural address, Hughes declared that the only way to disarm was to disarm and the right time for it was to begin at once and not in the distant future. He went on to present a program of reducing the naval strength of the major powers. All excess naval tonnage was to be scrapped and no new ships were to be constructed for the next ten years.
After a lot of deliberation and bargaining, 5 powers i.e. the
U.S., Britain, France, Italy and Japan agreed to limit their naval
strength in capital ships to the ratios 5:5:3:1.7:1.7. In other
words, the Treaty left the U.S. and Great Britain with 15 ships,
each of 525,000 tons, while Japan was left with 9 ships of 175,000
tons each, and France and Italy could build ships upto 175,000 tons
each. Further, the total tonnage of aircraft carriers was also limited.
This naval agreement made it virtually impossible for any one of
the 3 major naval powers to fight a war in the Pacific alone.
In this historic conference, 2 more significant treaties were signed. One of them was signed by the four powers the U.S., Great Britain, France and Japan. This was called the Four-Power Treaty. By this Treaty, the four powers agreed to respect their mutual rights in their insular possessions in the Pacific. The 4 signatories agreed to consult each other in case these possessions were threatened.
The Four-Power Treaty put an end to the Anglo-Japanese alliance.
Though the achievements of the Washington conference were widely applauded, the conference had several limitations. Chief among them was that no agreement was reached about smaller ships. Thus, the door was wide open for unrestricted construction of small ships.
Table of Contents
9.0 - Chronology of Major Events
Republican Ascendancy And World Polities
The Washington Conference
Republicanism At Home
Panic Of 1929
The Effects Of The New Deal
Impart Of The Great Depression
9.8 - Points To Remember