Japan's Refusal of Washington Treaty
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseOn 19 Dec 1934, Japan, pursuing her territorial expansions in Asia, openly refused to abide by the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. While it was indeed limiting her expansion ambitions, it was more so a matter of national face. The Japanese Navy, increasingly controlled by the militaristic Fleet Faction, felt deeply offended that Japan was not viewed as being equals with other world powers such as United States and Britain. The treaty limited Japan to 315,000 in total tonnage of naval strength when the US and Britain were each given a limit of 525,000. The reasons were that the US had to protect two extended coastlines, and Britain had colonial responsibilities world-wide. Japan refused such reasoning, and refused to be treated as a second-rate power.
ww2dbaseBy end of 1941, Japan would commission the largest battleship known to man, the 65,000-ton Yamato. She alone constituted a third of what the treaty limit would be had Japan abided by it, and Yamato's sistership Musashi was by then already being fitted out in the docks. Meanwhile, Japanese naval aviation was becoming honed as well, as the early aircraft carriers Akagi and Kaga about to undergo total refitting that would transform them into two of the earliest modern aircraft carriers.
ww2dbaseLittle to Japan's realization, the Washington Treaty could had been used to her advantage. Although the limitation shamed the Fleet Faction officers, in terms of fleet sizes in relation to each nation's respective industrial capacities, the limitation on the American fleet was actually placing a much stricter cap on the United States than Japan. By dismantling the Washington Naval Treaty, Japan indeed opened the first flood gate which would eventually lead to the building of the world's largest fleet, except this fleet would belong to the industrious United States instead of Japan.
ww2dbaseThe full text of the 1922 treaty can be found here.
ww2dbaseSources: the Pacific Campaign, Shattered Sword, Wikipedia.
Last Major Update: Nov 2005
Japan's Refusal of Washington Treaty Timeline
|29 Dec 1934||Japan renounced the Naval Treaties of 1922 and 1930.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945