What Was the Washington Naval Conference of 1921?


Quick Answer

The Washington Naval Conference was a meeting of the world's strongest post-World War I naval powers between November 1921 and February 1922. The delegates negotiated three treaties designed to reduce the size of naval fleets and guarantee the territorial integrity of China.

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Full Answer

After World War I, the United States had concerns about Japan's militarization, the growing size of the British navy and the prospect of a naval arms race. Representatives from Belgium, China, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, France, Japan and Great Britain met with American officials in Washington to discuss these matters and work out a series of treaties.

The conference produced three major multilateral treaties. The Nine-Power Treaty was signed by all parties and recognized China's territorial claims but affirmed that Japan was in control of Manchuria. China promised in return to allow all nations to do business in its country without discrimination. The Five-Power Treaty, signed by the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, called for all countries to reduce their naval fleets to certain total tonnages, with America and Britain having the greatest allotment. The United States, Japan, France and Britain signed the Four-Power Treaty, which guaranteed the signatories would meet for consultation before taking any military action in response to any crisis that might arise in East Asia.

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