The Washington Conferences (1921-22)

Background to the Conference

There was a clear need to reduce growing tensions in East Asia due to Japanese expansion in the region, tensions that threatened to cause a Naval arms race and, possibly, lead to war.

France was still dreading the return of German aggression and lacked confidence in the League giving them the security that they needed. 

In Asia, Japan wanted to expand its territory and wanted to dominate China. However, if this took place, it could ruin the trade relations China had with other countries.

In 1921, the USA invited eight other nations to Washington DC to discuss naval reductions and the situation in East Asia.

Britain, Japan, France and Italy were invited to join the USA in talks on reducing naval capacity.

Belgium, China, Portugal and the Netherlands were invited to join in discussions on the situation in East Asia.

This led to a series of treaties.

Four Power Treaty- signed by the USA, Britain, France and Japan

All countries agreed to respect each other's rights in the Pacific and far east

Agreed to deal with any future disagreements by negotiation

Formally ended 1902 alliance between Britain and Japan (which had embarrassed Britain) because...

Five Power Treaty- signed by the USA, Britain, France, Japan and Italy

The primary objective was to repress further Japanese naval expansion in the waters of the Western Pacific.

Nine Power Treaty- signed by the USA, UK, Japan, France, Italy, Belgium, China, Netherlands & Portugal