No. 633 NAI DFA 27/18A

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(S.7/11/47) (Confidential)

Geneva, 16 February 1932


With reference to my telegram of Sunday,1 and my letter dated the 15th instant,2 I have to report that the Committee of Twelve did not meet on Monday afternoon. A meeting was however held this morning when a draft note, of which I enclose a copy,3 was presented by the Secretary-General with a view to its despatch to Japan only. The Secretary-General mentioned that the second report of the Shanghai Committee had been distributed and that no additional reports were expected for the present. This report declared that a state of war existed, and went into some details as to the situation in Shanghai. The Council, Drummond continued, had two alternatives to consider: 1) whether they would express an opinion on the basis of the two reports under Article 15, and 2) the consideration of the Chinese request that a special Assembly be called.

The first must be done before the Assembly is convoked, if at all. He himself thought that the Council should not take action on the reports until Thursday, and that Wednesday might be spent considering the two reports from Shanghai. That would mean a delay and it might be wise to take some immediate action. Large scale fighting had scarcely yet begun in Shanghai. He submitted the draft for consideration of a note to be addressed to Japan. This would differ from previous notes in several ways, notably in the fact that it was addressed to Japan only and put the responsibility more directly on her.

He mentioned confidentially that a party was growing in Japan which disapproved of the Shanghai policy. He said he was not to be understood as saying that there was any division in Japan with regard to Manchuria.

On my suggestion, the Council proceeded to a first reading of the note as there seemed to be general consent that immediate action of some kind would be useful pending the decisions to be taken on Thursday. I took a fairly active part in the discussion, made suggestions in regard to the first four and the last paragraphs which were accepted by the Council provisionally. The Drafting Committee will revise it in the light of these discussions and we will meet again tonight to approve and despatch the note. The revised copy will be sent to you in due course.

Lord Londonderry, who represented the British Government, told me that he expected Sir John Simon to reach Geneva again on Thursday morning. The new line of policy has given a great deal of satisfaction and, amongst other things, will help to save the face of the Council when the matter comes to the Assembly.

I do not know if you will wish to send me any instructions as to action in the Assembly, or whether you will leave it to me to take the responsibility of speaking or not as the quickly changing conditions here may require.

[signed] Seán Lester

1 Not printed.

2 Not printed.

3 Not printed.

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