Canada’s Far West Policy: China and Japan 1929-1932
(カナダの極西政策: 中国と日本 1929-1932年)
SUMMARY IN JAPANESE：満州における日中紛争時、カナダは特有の中国政策(極西政策)を展開した。カナダの国際関係を扱った従来の研究では、加米および加英関係への注目度が高く、カナダ特有の中国政策の存在はあまり知られていいなかった。従来の関心は、国際連盟にカナダの立場を表明するに際して国務大臣チャールズ･カハンが指示の限界を超えたかどうか、という点に向けられていた。しかし、紛争の原因を中日カナダ公使ハーバート･マーラーとカナダの首相兼外相であったR・B・ベネットとの会談にまで[｢さかのぼらせ｣れば、中国政策という枠組み内において、出来事を時系列的にたどってより広範に理解することができる。マーラーの個性故に中国を主権国家でないとする見解が同会談で提示されるに至るが、そのような考え方のもとで、｢中国の混沌｣にとって変わって正式にカナダの通称管理組織を活用すべきだとされた｡また、そうすることで日本を経由したカナダの対中国輸出が大幅に増加するとされた｡ベネットは、カナダの極東における商業的役割と中国の主権の特徴について、マーラーの展望に同意した｡国際連盟カナダ代表カハンに｢カハンの過ち(カハン事件)｣を起こさせる引き金となったのは、国際社会の中での中国の地位に関するベネット政府の見解が原因であった｡カハンは1932年の国際連盟演説で、中国は国民が統合されておらず、したがって戦争と平和に関する国際法の通常の原則によっては保護されない、とする日本の主張を擁護した｡しかし、カハンの演説は国際連盟の審議結果にいかなる影響も与えることがなかった｡日本の行動は弁護の余地なしとみなされたのである｡
A distinctive historical antecedent for Canadian China policy has remained unrecognized because a question has not been asked. Did Canada have a China policy prior to the outbreak of the Manchurian Incident in September 1931? At that time, Japan occupied territory outside of its treaty zone in Manchuria, creating a legal conundrum for the League of Nations. Historians have “timelined” their investigations to account for Canada’s response to the British and American positions on the Manchurian question within the League in 1932. Consequently, interpretations of Canadian foreign policy have focused on an issue extraneous to Canada-China relations, i.e. whether the Canadian delegate to the League, Secretary of State Charles H. Cahan, had exceeded his instructions-referred to as the Cahan Blunder or the Cahan Incident-by implicitly recognizing the validity of Japan’s defense of its occupation. Cahan seemingly supported the Japanese contention that China was not an organized State or, as Cahan put it, a fully governing state, and therefore not protected by the normal principles of international law on peace and war.
By focusing on Cahan’s instructions, of December 2, 1932, and Ottawa’s reaction to Cahan’s speech, historians have overlooked the thread of continuity in Canadian foreign policy on China dating back to 1929, which underlies a “Canadian” rather than a Canada-U.S./Canada -British Empire connection to the Sino-Japanese dispute. This thread was woven through a policy dialogue between Herbert Meredith Marler, Canada’s first Minister in Japan, and the government in Ottawa. Marler’s character and personality drove the dialogue, which offered a representation of China as inert rather than sovereign, as a territory called the Orient rather than a dynamic and reified political entity of evolutionary change. This representation, which diminished the reality of Chinese culture and society, was not original, but what made it “Canadian” was its association with Canadian organizational capabilities and Canadian geographic space. Cahan’s assessment of China’s status as a non-State reflected the policy of Ottawa, specifically, the then government of R.B. Bennett. If the Bennett government had formulated a China policy, free from organizational and spatial coordinates, based on the demonstrative, matter-of-fact existence of a State as recognized by other governments, then, Cahan would have found little leeway to interpret his official instructions as he had.
Marler Essentializes the Far West
Canada took a major step forward in evolving a constitutional structure of community and Empire when it established independent diplomatic missions abroad in Washington (1927) and Tokyo (1929) while upgrading advisory commissioner offices in London (1928) and Paris (1928). Herbert Meredith Marler, a former minister without portfolio within Mackenzie King’s liberal cabinet, was chosen by King to fill the Tokyo posting. He held Marler in high regard, considering him tenacious, bright and conscientious, though somewhat humorless. He was particularly pleased that his nominee was well received, even among Tory politicians who opposed the opening of the Tokyo Legation as another breach in the armor of a united Empire foreign policy. Marler had entered public service in 1918 and had won a seat in Parliament in 1921. He would lose his seat in the 1925 election, just after his cabinet appointment, his opponent being none other than Charles H. Cahan. Although Marler had every intention of continuing to pursue a political career, he accepted the diplomatic position because he saw the opportunity of national recognition for his accomplishments in furthering Canadian overseas interests.
Marler, who had received a law degree from McGill University, had entered into the notary business of his father in Montreal, specializing in legal transactions regarding real estate and corporate investments and successfully expanded the Marler & Marler partnerships’ transactions and prosperity. However, Marler’s rise to social prominence came when he married Beatrice Isabel Allan descended from two of the wealthiest families of Montreal, founders of Allan Royal Mail Line and Sun Life Insurance Company of Canada, in 1902. In 1907, he purchased a large estate for his family outside of Montreal. Soon, Grantham Hall, with its 16 rooms, was deemed insufficient for the “social intercourse” which figured prominently in the family’s life and he undertook its expansion. A wing was built, which according to his son, was as large as many big houses. According to Marler’s son, Howard, “the acquisition of the Grantham property was a step towards the future that Herbert Meredith hoped for, for his family. He was intensely proud of the record of his father and his grandfather, and he wished to establish a base from which his sons and their descendants could continue to build the family fortunes.” Marler himself in a newspaper interview would speak with pride of his ancestry: “We were early on the ground in Canada. On my father’s side, our family has been represented in Quebec since 1768. My earliest ancestor married the daughter of the first rector of Quebec-fairly far back you see?”
When Marler accepted the post of minister, he was intent that the symbols of social prestige, which he believed he deserved as befitting his new status, would be forthcoming. In addition, he believed that his preferred method of “social intercourse” would best suit the achievement of Canada’s objectives in Japan. He convinced Ottawa to build a “Grantham”-style legation, but only after he offered to contribute from his personal finances a generous amount and a significant loan.
At the time of his appointment as Minister in Japan, the government had considered Marler’s appointment to China as well. However, “it was concluded…that while the plan might eventually be adopted, it was desirable to postpone any action until conditions in China were somewhat more stabilized.” The idea of being heralded officially Minister to the Orient, China as well as Japan, appealed to Marler’s sense of proportion when it came to his social position in his new posting, i.e., a magnificent legation, a highly impressive nameplate. Marler was obsessed with the niceties of social forms and the manifestation of status. Hugh Keenleyside, the first secretary of the legation, in his memoirs, commented that Marler had hardly arrived in Japan when he began correspondence with Ottawa on the subject of titles (knighthoods) for Canadian ministers. Keenleyside relates that “as I was strongly opposed even to non-hereditary titles, this was one matter of mild discord between us.” In Prominent Men of Canada 1931-1932, wherein the biographies were based on data blanks sent to recognized gentlemen and filled out by them, Marler listed himself as being the first Canadian Minister to the Orient rather than the first Canadian Minister to Japan.
Marler’s desire for status and social standing not only inclined him to seek out a more imposing title, but also, fixed his sights on the Far East market rather than on diplomatic relations per se. After meeting with Marler for the first time in Ottawa in the summer of 1929, Kenneth Kirkwood, who was to become the legation’s second secretary, referred to the intensity of Marler’s conviction that good business for Canada in the Far East required an expanded role for the Minister in Japan. He reflected that “Mr. Marler is definitely anxious to ‘drum up business;’ but this should rather be the work of trade commissioners than the function of an ambassador.” Kirkwood also learned that ultimately the intent was “to establish a branch legation, an offshoot from Tokyo, in China to represent Canadian interests in China.” Marler was not one to be satisfied with remaining Minister in Japan for long.
Unlike King, Marler was inclined to forsake a political or global understanding of the Legation’s significance for Canada, i.e., concerns of peace and security in the Pacific, and to focus on the Far East as a society of markets rather than states. Marler thought the overwhelming Canadian interest in Japan lay in commerce and he placed this interest in a Far East rather than a Japan basket, with Canada competing with the U.S., Britain and other countries for Far East consumers. Marler would spend the coming year trying to impress his thinking on Ottawa. When the Bennett government took office in the following year, Marler found the new Prime Minister, who had opposed the establishment of the Tokyo Legation enthusiastic about its work because of Marler’s market philosophy.
Before departing from Canada for Japan, Marler, the politician, who was well aware of the power of good public relations as well as the power of the press, decided to give a series of talks to local business clubs in Toronto. In his speech entitled “Canada and Trade with Japan,” Marler set forth his strategy for expanding the duties of the Minister in Japan to advance Canada’s commerce in the Far East, an approach that would also satisfy his desire to be Minister to the Orient. His plan was to bring the trade commissioners in the Far East under his control. Canada had had a Trade Commissioners Service since 1886, which operated under the Department of Trade and Commerce. Marler maintained that “I’m in no way unmindful of the work already done by our Trade Commissioners. Their work has been excellent in every respect but their labours and the facilities to be rendered our exporters will be greatly facilitated and increased by the opening of our legation in Japan in charge of a Minister.” Marler gave attention to both “Japan trade” and “Orient trade” in his presentation. He related that trade with Japan had started in a small way and Japan was now Canada’s fourth best customer in exports and fifth in imports, total trade jumping from $4,820,000 in 1913 to $54, 999,000 in 1929. Exports had increased sevenfold since 1921, with wheat and wheat flour by far the most important products. He observed that the Orient as a whole beckoned with total trade expanding from $63,000,000 in 1927 to $86,000,000 in 1929. The speech was aptly interpreted by the press as a declaration of a commercial foray into the Orient.
Geographic space vs. Geo-political boundaries
Marler proceeded to implement his plan for an Orient trade service immediately upon his arrival in Tokyo in September. At the request of the Minister, James Langley, the trade commissioner in Kobe, became the legation’s first commercial secretary. His Trade and Commerce status as a trade commissioner remained in tact, however. In December, still not fully settled in as Minister in Japan, Marler made haste to travel to China, including Manchuria. He wrote King for approval, indicating his plan to depart for China “to study trade conditions in particular.”
For Marler, his “Orient” plan was more important than investigating geopolitical realities in Japan. During his seven years as Minister in Japan, Marler would not involve himself deeply in the Japanese community. Within Japanese circles, his sense of formality created a distance between himself and the Japanese. According to Kirkwood, “Sir Herbert was a formalist, who maintained the “correct” diplomatic formality of approach with the Japanese officials and private individuals with whom he came in contact. He commanded their respect: he made himself the envoy of a dignified country.” It was Mrs. Marler, according to Kirkwood, who showed the “remarkable genius for acquaintanceship and friendly neighborliness.” Although the Toronto Star would proclaim in 1931 that the Canadian Minister to Japan numbered Japanese among his most intimate friends, in that interview, Marler had actually referred to his wife’s efforts, explaining that her “most intimate friends are out-and-out Japanese.” Marler, himself, was apt to admit to his “inborn self-conscious formalism” and confess to “how his early training and habits had given him a personal inclination for dignity and formality.”
In all, there was little disposition on Marler’s part to fully acquaint himself with his new posting and quite a large incentive to concentrate on a wider, more dignified profession-the subjection of the Orient to Canadian trade. Marler, even, advanced the schedule of his trip to coincide with a meeting of Canadian trade commissioners in Shanghai. However, some discrepancy arose between Marler’s requirements and the schedule of the trade commissioners, which reverberated all the way back to Ottawa, resulting in a complaint from the Department of Trade and Commerce to King. Both King and Bennett would retain the portfolio of Secretary of External Affairs. King reprimanded Marler, but rather lightly. He told him that trade commissioners were responsible only to the Minister of Trade and Commerce. If instructions needed to be issued, according to King, it would be best to request the good offices of the Secretary of External Affairs. The reprimand was further diminished by King’s praise of Marler’s initiative in the Pacific area and his enthusiastic approval of Marler’s trip to China. He, also, encouragingly, reflected on the need “for a more definite system of coordination between the Legations and the Trade Commissioners in their own or adjourning territory.” Ottawa was quite content with Marler’s idea to focus on the Orient rather than Japan.
Accompanied by James Langley, Marler left for China at the beginning of March. During the three-week tour, he would travel to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Nanking, although postponing his survey of the north until later in the year. He would meet with British consular, commercial and military officials, Canadian entrepreneurs and missionaries, local business leaders, journalists and ministers of the Nanking government. He, with Langley in toe, would also dominate the proceedings of the conference. His report to King would fill 67 pages, plus an annex, and would focus on the recommendations of the conference. Firstly, the report would emphasize China as a continent rather than a country. Marler divided the continent, excluding Manchuria, into areas defined by rivers and ports/warehouses: the Yellow River and Tientsin; the Yangtse River and Shanghai; and the Canton River and Canton. “You therefore have the north, the middle and the south. These are the three great areas and it is through their respective ports that trade is effected.” Marler pictured China as possessing great potential for Canadian imports and proposed the establishment of additional trade commissioners at strategic points. Secondly, the Minister would argue against the establishment of a Canadian Legation in China in the near future. His position echoed the one initially taken by Ottawa regarding China’s unsettled conditions. However, Marler’s understanding had more of a quality of a paternalistic discourse on the backward and unchanging Orient. He related: “it is impossible to say when internal conditions will be completely stable in China. I should not imagine for many years to come. They never have been stable in that country as we understand stability and certainly there are many years of education ahead before the vast majority in China will understand anything about self-government.” He also added that under such conditions, the Chinese might opt for playing off the Canadian Minister against the British Minister to overcome their weakness in negotiations with the West. Interestingly, the British would make a similar point in opposing a Canadian Minister in Japan and China. The British were unable to see Marler’s fine line of distinction between a Minister in China and a Minister with joint responsibility for both countries. Thirdly, building on his image of a continent without a nation, a people without a united State and markets without an organized political society, he set forth the recommendations of the conference of trade commissioners under the heading of “Centralization of Direction of Far Eastern Services.”
The conference took place over fours days. Marler was present, as he put it, as an observer. The trade commissioners of China and Japan agreed that there was advantage to be gained for all through greater cooperation and consultation. However, a need was cited, according to Marler, for some point near at hand for referring questions of minor and semi-major importance, Marler conceding that Trade and Commerce would continue to instruct on all-major questions. As to where that point should be, the conference’s answer was Tokyo-“the natural gateway between Canada and the Far East.”
Later, Marler would expand on the backwardness of the continent of China and coin the slogan “the Far East as Canada’s Far West,” with Japan as the gatekeeper. For Marler, Japan was a modernizing State, on one side of the gateway and Oriental on the opposite end. As Marler remarked all Orientals were “inscrutable,” the Chinese just more so. Marler explained to Ottawa that the new organization through the Japan gateway would improve the volume of Canadian products flowing directly and indirectly to China. Specifically, according to Marler, the conference realized the need for two new trade commissioner offices in China and an integrated Far Eastern trade commissioner network under the Tokyo Legation. In this respect, he advised Ottawa “that until a Canadian Legation is established in China the Canadian Minister in Japan should keep in touch with conditions there and supervise or maintain an oversight with respect to Canadian interests in that country.” Marler also intimated that when the time arrived to establish a China legation, it would be best to place it, transitionally, under a charge d’affaires, who would seek cooperation and advice from the, by then, highly knowledgeable, Minister in Japan.
O. D. Skelton, the Under-Secretary for External Affairs, was very much aware of the relationship between Marler’s visit to China and the Minister’s interest in a dual appointment, but he viewed such a future outcome as favorable for External Affairs. He was also well disposed to Marler’s idea of associating trade commissioners more closely with Canadian national interests. He thought the only alternative was to increase their dependence on British legations and British Empire interests. The new, conservative Prime Minister, who took office in the summer of 1930, was also well inclined. Marler’s ideas on the potential of the Far East were in line with R.B. Bennett’s intent “to blast his way”into the world’s markets. Bennett sought to solve unemployment on conservative principles, through economic nationalism and the encouragement of private industry.
Consequently, Marler’s request for a second visit to China to pursue his Orient plan was approved. Marler undertook his visit to North China and Manchuria in September. Originally, Marler had intended to visit these areas during the earlier trip, but military movements caused him to cancel these segments. Marler’s second report came to two hundred and seventy pages including 47 pages of tables. The rationale and recommendations of the first report provided the template for the second. The second report, however, did include a section on the political situation in China, but it merely represented a reassessment of China’s never-ending instability, with a heavy touch of ethnocentrism. Although Marler was quick to admit to being a student of Chinese affairs, he didn’t hesitate to expand on the character of the Oriental. He wrote: “The Chinese like to run their own affairs locally-to organize themselves into small bodies and look out for themselves. In this is involved the great question of rank or “face” which in the East surpasses in importance almost everything else. In China this is particularly important. Rank means the power to give jobs. The control of or the giving of jobs means money to which the China man is addicted more than anything else. He seems quite without morals as to the methods of acquiring wealth and is utterly without patriotism as we understand that term. This is really the root of the whole trouble in China. No one wants to give up “face” for the general good of the country as a whole.”
What was new in the report, pertained to Manchuria. Manchuria, although part of the Orient, was divorced from continental and market China, which, in Marler’s estimation, held constructive ramifications for Canadian trade. He wrote: “Manchuria to all intents is independent of China-certainly in matters of interior economy.” He held that it would remain so. The Japanese, he explained, had provided “astonishing progress” and “great benefit…also accrued to the native population.” Furthermore, Japan had provided “peace and order” and “notified the warring factions in China that she would take all necessary measures to see that this was effected.” In his mind, there could be no doubt “the great influx of immigrants into Manchuria is due to the element of safety there provided by the Japanese.”
He explained that progress and order had increased the purchasing power of the expanding Manchurian consumers, eight million over ten years, for Japanese and non-Japanese goods. The value of total foreign trade in 1927 was five times that of 1908. Since Japan would continue to maintain the open door in Manchuria, he surmised that Canada, with a well-organized trade service, could do much better in supplying the Manchurian market than it presently had, especially in products which it had previously supplied, such as wheat flour.
Since, in Marler’s thinking, Japan was the gatekeeper for Canada’s China trade, it was even more so for Manchuria, thereby strengthening his argument for a centralized trade network centered in Tokyo under his administration. He explained that Manchuria under Japan’s sphere of influence had become the world’s leading and most efficient producer of soy beans and although Manchuria could produce its own wheat, Japan was interested in bringing in exported flour instead and concentrating on a comparative advantage in soy beans. Canada’s opportunity lay in direct exports of wheat flour as well as in Japanese wheat flour made from Canadian wheat. As to the two new trade commissioners, which Marler had been considering, one was to be posted in Dairen. The second trade commissioner was to be situated in Tientsin to access the North China trade.
A Minister for the Far West
By the time of his return from his second trip, Marler had decided the time had come to make an all-out effort during his coming home leave in the summer to convince the government of appointing him Minister in Japan and China. He had amassed a great deal of information on the potential trade benefits and had developed a scenario around a trade commissioner network to tap the Orient’s riches. He was now prepared to christen his plan with a title, as well, his argument being that a ministerial designation was needed to provide the official sanction and authority to insure the smooth working of the Orient plan. He would argue that the time was ripe to move beyond a “wait and see” policy on China’s stability and make inroads in the market before all opportunities were saturated with the products of other countries. Marler intended to publicize his forward policy through public addresses and newspaper interviews at major cities across Canada on his journey to Ottawa. His speeches and interviews had all the markings of a campaign for public office-and perhaps they were, i.e., for minister-rather than an exercise in diplomatic protocol. His arrival back in Canada was treated as front-page news in the Vancouver Sun. The headline was “‘Canada Stands High in Orient’-Marler”. The sub-headline proclaimed “Huge Markets Await Development of Traders.” Marler had also noted that “he had made several recommendations as to Canadian interests in the Far East, but as to their nature he reserved comment, beyond stating that he hoped they would have the sympathetic consideration of the Government.” The following day in an interview with the Sun, Marler set forth a “platform” directed more at Ottawa than Vancouver. The Sun referred to it as a stirring message from a Minister with two years of intensive political and economic study in the Orient. Marler stated the following as he would elsewhere: “Canadians must forget the ‘Wait and See’ policy in respect of trade development in China. It is true that China presents manifold and complex problems for foreign traders; it is true that China has a complicated currency problem; a serious transportation problem, and a grave problem of unrest, but it is also true that China has had similar problems for generations in no less degree than today. Yet Chinese foreign trade has grown by leaps and bounds. And only a fraction of its total potential trade has yet been touched.”
Marler’s campaign came at an opportune time. Bennett’s government was intensely grappling with the disappearance of foreign markets for Canadian wheat and the fall in wheat prices. All Canadian trade commissioners were being urged to increase sales of Canadian wheat. Bennett had urged Marler to return to China in January 1931 to pursue opportunities for sale of Canadian wheat directly to the Chinese government but to no avail, although sales to private individuals remained strong. On the same day that the article in the Vancouver Sun heralded Marler’s arrival, there appeared a report from Parliament: “Orient Beckons, Parliament Told.” The Minister of Trade and Commerce Henry Stevens had told Parliament that everything possible was being done to increase wheat and wheat flour exports to China. His opinion on the need for immediate action to promote exports was not so different from Marler’s general urging to do more and in fact, Marler would find Stevens a valuable ally regarding his plan for a centralized administration. Stevens had already informed Parliament that he opposed a wait and see attitude on China, even though conditions were unstable.
Marler’s return to nearby Ottawa received a glowing acknowledgment in his former constituency’s paper, The Gazette, of Montreal, the paper of Charles Cahan and the Conservative Party. A special column next to the editorials proclaimed Marler as a man of conservative Canada in his patriotic efforts to further friendly relations with Japan and to expand trade in the Orient. With a boxed headline in letterhead typeface of “Hon. Herbert Marler,” The Gazette described the activities of Marler in Japan as a reflection of “his dynamic personality embodying in a very true sense the spirit which we would expect from Canada, a land full of the force and enthusiasm of youth, yet tempered by the traditions and dignity of the older order from which it sprang.” The Gazette intimated that personality was the key to Marler’s success in Japan, one that harmonized well “with the spirit of progressive, yet essentially conservative, Japan.”
Actually, Marler’s press preceded him. As early as May 14, in a debate in the House of Commons concerning the trade commissioners’ service and the China trade, the question of Marler’s recent visit to China was raised. Stevens, then, responded to the question of whether the returning Minister brought with him recommendations. He replied: “I am not quite sure, but Mr. Marler is quite a capable salesman, and as I notice by the press, he will have some hopes in any case.”
Consequently, Marler arrived at the Prime Minister’s Office in 1931 with a plan supportive of the Conservative Party’s policies, with a Minister of Trade and Commerce well disposed to a forward change in Canada’s trade in the Orient and with a high profile conservative/capable salesman image. Marler’s understanding of coordination and systematization of the Far Eastern market through a Japan gateway presented an understanding of Canada’s place in Far Eastern diplomacy or a China policy, which did not conflict with a united British Empire foreign policy in the Far East. It was a “salemanship” foreign policy and it was directed at “selling products” to a market rather than “selling” strategies of peace in the Pacific, a matter which could be best left to the Empire as a whole. What appeared to be in the Canadian national interest were not good relations with China, the State, but organized and effective access through the gateway to the wider oriental market. Marler’s Orient plan made the accreditation of a Minister to China more a state-to-an-idealized-reality linkage, that of Canada’s Far West, than a state-to-state appointment. It made the suggestion much more palatable to the conservative thinking of R. B. Bennett. According to the historian Donald Story, Bennett was“the quintessential Canadian conservative who discerned a natural world hierarchy of nation-states,” in which the British Commonwealth rested at the pinnacle because of its perfection of the principle of international cooperation. Although Bennett wasn’t willing to leave Canadian business in the hands of British consular officials, he was quite prepared to follow the lead of the British in pursuing policies of global or commonwealth implications.
Initially, in 1928, when the conservatives were the opposition, Bennett didn’t think it was necessary for Canada to pursue friendly relations with the Far Eastern world. He had explained that international law was quite clear on what was meant by “state” and “minister” and the Japanese, being highly specialized in international law, would take the meanings literally and not ponder Canada’s status in the commonwealth. Japan, according to Bennett, would be disposed to treat Canada as a Western power separate and distinct from Britain. He raised the question: “Since when did Great Britain become a foreign state to Canada?” He thought it nonsensical to conceive of improvement in Canada’s status by the appointment of a Minister and in fact, he felt that the deployment put Canada at risk. His opinion was the following: “What this country wants in Japan and all other foreign countries are trade commissioners…who will carry forward Canada’s trade, not our diplomatic skill and power, to the countries of the world.”
However, Bennett, in power, would reassess the importance of legations, balancing his earlier stance with the changes in place. Therefore, as long as Bennett understood Marler’s accreditation proposal as part of a trade-to-Orient rather than a state-to-state plan, Marler could count on Bennett’s acquiescence. Bennett approved of the establishment of a Canadian Legation in China, under a charge d’affaires, with Marler accredited to both China and Japan. But the British did not. In the interest of commonwealth cooperation, Bennett had consulted London. The British government had requested instead that the opening of a Canadian legation be postponed in view of the unstable political situation in China at a time when sensitive negotiations were proceeding on extraterritorial and other treaty privileges. Britain argued that the unpredictable Chinese authorities might seek to gain advantage in the negotiations by driving a wedge between Canada and Britain.
Marler had come prepared for such a circumstance. He had brought with him an article written by a friend of the Canadian Legation, the Tokyo correspondent of the London Times that referred to the original misgivings of British diplomats in Japan about establishing a new Legation there and to the current consensus among all the diplomatic missions of the success of the experiment. Yet, in spite of the support of the London Times, Marler was unable to convince the Prime Minister to dispute the British reservations.
However, there was sufficient reason for Marler to believe that all was far from lost regarding his appointment. Skelton assured Marler that the opportunity for reversal of the Prime Minister’s decision in the near future was good. Also, the Prime Minister had decided to implement the coordinated Orient trade service plan under the “advisory” direction of the Minister in Japan, in addition to opening the Dairen and Tientsin offices. But most importantly, Marler was encouraged by Bennett’s speech in the House of Commons as to his “new thinking” on the value of Canada’s legations as the adjunct to Canadian trade services. Bennett referred to the Tokyo Legation as an example of what he meant by Canadian diplomacy serving a useful purpose. He praised Marler’s performance and national commitment, indicating that in their recent conversations, Marler had spoken entirely on “trade conditions in the far east,” and on the expansion of that trade. And Bennett stressed “the orient” rather than Japan when he discussed the value of the Canadian Minister in Tokyo. He stated: “the value of the Canadian minister in the orient consists in his ability to obtain ready audience of those who are directing the affairs of government in those countries, by reason of the international legal position which attaches to the name ‘minister.’ That is, the minister may do things which a trade commissioner or consul could not do.”
A Policy Without A Minister
Marler, therefore, had every incentive in the summer of 1931 to make an all out effort in a tour across Canada to continue to spark enthusiasm for trade in the Far East, in spite of declining export figures arising from the world depression. In his speeches to business organizations, his interviews with the press and meetings with community leaders and newspaper editors, Marler would expound on the “great field for Canada.” He would explain that Canada was building a trade network in the Orient second to none. He would hammer away at the potential for Canadian products. A front-page banner headline in the Vancouver Sun, “$450,000,000 China Trade [which then stood at $16,500,000] Beckons Canada”, would herald Marler’s appearance in that city.
But Marler also promoted an implicit message directed more to Ottawa than to the Canadian trader. Marler engaged in a spin off of Bennett’s understanding of the “new diplomacy” to show how appropriate in this regard the reconsideration of his appointment as Minister in Japan and China would be. For example, the editor of the Winnipeg Tribune, who had met with Marler, considered Marler’s recent speech in Winnipeg, especially with regard to his thinking as to what it meant to be Canada's Minister to Japan and the Far East as “an admirable exposition of the new diplomacy.” He found in Marler’s talk a “comparatively new notion of an ambassador as an envoy instructed to maintain and strengthen the economic rather than the political bonds between two countries.”
In the summer of 1931, the Marler-Bennett discussions had yielded-if not a Minister in Japan and China-a Canadian foreign policy on China. Certain perspectives were in place: (1) China should be promoted as a geographical space within the Orient, divided and subdivided into ports and rivers for carrying Canadian goods to massive populations; (2) Superimposed on the Orient was Canadian salesmanship rather than Machiavellian skills; (3) Benefits accrued to Canada not through a Chinese political organization, but through the organization, coordination and cooperation of a trade service linking the Canadian trader to markets in China.
For both Marler and Bennett, China was not a geopolitical reality or an organized community in the sense that the West understood it, nor need it be so, or, for that matter, be on the verge of being so. Its importance lay in the vastness and over-populated imagery of Canada’s Oriental Far West. For Marler, accreditation didn’t provide him with the leverage to secure special advantages or privileges for Canada in China. Instead of the normalization of relations, Marler’s goal, as he expressed it to Ottawa, was to attain for himself and his Tokyo-centered trade service the pride and dignity to impress officials and non-officials alike in China with the earnestness of Canada’s presence in the Orient. As indicated, Marler wanted the title, but he also believed in the effectiveness of formality. And his understanding of the value of his accreditation pertained not to China, the State, but China, the trade emporium. For that matter, Bennett didn’t belabor the issue of China’s political reality in considering accreditation. What was foremost on his mind was the consumption of Canadian wheat by the masses in the Orient. The political situation in China didn’t seem to alter his “Marlerism” view of vast markets and huge potential sales and the need of a Canadian Legation in China as an adjunct to trade. It was only after the British interceded that Bennett withheld approval. Bennett agreed with Marler and Skelton, as well, that China was destined to be a disorganized community in the near future, and that such a condition was sufficient for Canada. However, this condition was found to be unacceptable when the well being of the British Empire became the source of concern.
Events would finally overtake Marler’s efforts to be accredited to China and in time they would overwhelm his plan for an Orient trade service. When he returned to Japan, Marler was confronted with a challenge to his “gateway to the Orient,” i.e., the Sino-Japanese dispute before the League of Nations. For Marler, the League of Nations had only made matters worse by intervening in the contest over Manchuria. According to Marler, in a 41-page dispatch to Bennett on December 1, 1931, the League had only succeeded in antagonizing Japan in demanding the withdrawal of Japanese forces back to the treaty zone in disregard of Japan’s legitimate grievances. Also, he wrote that China had provoked Japan. He explained that even if the railroad incident was a staged affair, in the months leading up to the incident, Japanese subjects and property had been under continual assault, providing sufficient provocation for an action in self-defense.
In making his case for conciliating Japan in the proceedings at the League, Marler found it impossible not to emphasize the failings of China as a State, even though such an exposition might be interpreted as vindicating the appropriateness of a wait and see policy on accreditation. He reminded Bennett, in a manner that foreshadowed Cahan’s main thrust before the League, that China was not a nation like Great Britain, Japan or Canada since it lacked the territorial, administrative and juridical integrity associated with an independent sovereign state. As a matter of fact, he held that China had really no right to be a member of the League at all. He continued: “It was only so recognized because the Powers desire to maintain what is the merest fiction in order to ostensibly deal with some kind of organization claiming to represent China: whereas it does not in any sense of that word do so at all. The Powers pretend that there exists a single State in China which controls all territory embraced in that geographical expression including Manchuria: while they, and every student of affairs in the Far East in his most elemental stages, know that there are a dozen different Governments, each practically independent.”
Ten months later, a cabinet meeting was held in Ottawa to consider the Far East dispute. “Discussion was in the nature of a general consideration of the subject” in light of the departure of the Secretary State, C. H. Cahan, to head the Canadian delegation to the General Meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations opening on September 26. Although, as Secretary of State, Cahan, up to this time, had no direct responsibility for External Affairs, he was familiar with the policy dialogue on China through various channels: (1) cabinet meetings and debates in the House concerning Marler’s efforts to centralize trade services in the Far East; and (2) the coverage in the press of Marler’s views on the Orient and trade. In addition, at that discussion meeting itself, there is reason to suspect that Cahan had the opportunity either to see the December 1, 1931 dispatch to the Prime Minister or be advised of its contents. There is, as noted, the similarity between Cahan’s and Marler’s assertions on China’s status as a State and a League member. There is, also, present in both espousals reference to Britain’s military actions in China in 1925, with the emphasis on the similarity with Japan’s actions. Britain, like Japan, had not taken its grievances to the League. More to the point is the fact that prior to his departure, Cahan was not informed that China was a sovereign State like Canada, Britain and Japan because this was not the Canadian policy. China was perceived as entirely part of a natural, but disorganized Orient. Consequently, Cahan could remark to a high official at the League two months prior to his speech that “everyone [including the Prime Minister, one would surmise] in Canada thinks that China is a chaotic mess and that the only hope lies in backing the Japanese enterprise to the limit.”
Cahan’s speech had no effect upon the eventual outcome of the deliberations within the League. Japan’s actions were deemed unacceptable and indefensible.
* Professor of International Relations, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Tokyo, Japan
 F.H. Soward, "Forty Years On: The Cahan Blunder Re-examined," B.C. Studies, Vol. 32 (1976-1977), pp.126-138; Richard Veatch, Canada and the League of Nations (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975), pp.115-125; Alan Mason, "Canada and the Manchurian Crisis," in Robert Bothwell and Norman Hillmer, eds., The In-Between Time (Toronto: Copp Clark, 1975), pp.113-119; Donald Story, "Canada, The League of Nations and the Far East, 1931-1933: The Cahan Incident," International History Review, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Apr. 1981), pp. 236-255.
 League of Nations Official Journal, Special Supplement, No. 111, Vol. 3 (Geneva, 1933), p. 57. Japanese Delegation to the League of Nations, The Manchurian Question (Geneva, 1933), pp. 15, 120-121.
 Eber H. Rice, "Sir Herbert Marler and the Canadian Legation in Tokyo," John Schultz and Kimitada Miwa, eds., Canada and Japan in the Twentieth Century (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 77, 235.
 Kenneth Kirkwood Papers (KKP), "Sir Herbert Marler in Tokyo", National Archives of Canada (NAC), MG27 III E3, Vol. 35, File: Diplomatic Journal, 1936. Also, KKP, June 3, 1935, NAC, MG27 III E3, Vol. 3, File: Diplomatic Journal, 1935.
 Howard Marler, Marler (Montreal: Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, 1987), pp. 67-68.
 Marler, Marler, 81-82.
 Toronto Star, Aug. 11, 1931, p1.
 Rice, "Sir Herbert Marler and the Canadian Legation in Tokyo," pp. 79, 82; KKP, "Sir Herbert Marler in Tokyo", NAC, MG27 III E3, Vol. 35, File: Diplomatic Journal, 1936.
 Skelton to O'Hara, Mar. 7, 1930, NAC, RG25, T-1803, Vol. 794, File 470.
 Hugh Keenleyside, Memoirs of Hugh L. Keenleyside, Vol. 1 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1981), p. 289.
 Ross Hamilton, ed., Prominent Men of Canada 1931-1932 (Montreal: National Publishing Co.), pp. 3, 129.
 KKP, July 14,1929, NAC, MG27 III E3, Vol. 2, File: Diplomatic Diary, 1929-1931.
 Prime Minister to Marler, Feb. 28,1930, NAC, RG25, T-1803, Vol. 794, File 470, Rice 75-76.
 Canada, House of Commons, Debates, Vol. 1, Jan. 30, 1928, p. 29. John Hilliker, Canada's Department of External Affairs, Vol. 1 (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990), p.113.
 Marler to Skelton, June 27,1929, NAC, RG25, T-1804, Vol. 795, File 472; Skelton to Marler, July 17,1929, NAC, RG25, T-1804, Vol. 795, File 472. Toronto Daily Star, July 16,1929, p. 3.
 Marler to Secretary of State for External Affairs (SSEA), Dec. 24,1929, NAC, RG 25, Vol. 2961, File 42. An issue, the exclusion of Japanese immigrants, which might have kept Marler in Japan, disappeared fortuitously with the normalization of relations. See Klaus Pringheim, Neighbors Across the Pacific (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983), pp. 37-38.
 KKP, "Sir Herbert Marler in Tokyo," NAC, MG27 III E3, Vol. 35, File: Diplomatic Journal, 1936.
 Toronto Star, Aug 11, 1931, p1.
 KKP, June 30,1936, NAC, MG27 III E3, Vol. 35, File: Diplomatic Journal, 1936.
 Skelton to Marler, Feb.25 1930, NAC, RG25, T-1803, Vol. 794, File 470.
 SSEA to Marler, Feb. 28, 1930, NAC, RG25, T-1803, Vol. 794, File 470.
 Marler to SSEA, Apr. 18, 1930, NAC, RG25, Vol. 1561, File: China Report, March 1930.
 Vancouver Sun, Aug 27,1931, p. 6.
 Marler to SSEA, Apr. 18, 1930, NAC, RG25, Vol. 1561, File: China Report, March 1930.
 Skelton to O'Hara, Mar.7, 1930, NAC, RG25, T-1803, Vol. 794, File 470. O. Mary Hill, Canada's Salesman to the World (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1977), pp. 427-428.
 Hilliker, Canada's Department of External Affairs, pp.140-142, 153. John R. Williams, The Conservative Party of Canada: 1920-1949 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1956), pp.56, 226.
 Marler to SSEA, Dec. 31 1930, NAC, RG25, Vol. 1561, File: Vols. 1-2.
 Marler to Skelton, Apr. 11,1931; July 27,1931, NAC, RG25, T-1804, Vol. 795, File 472.
 Vancouver Sun, May 13, 1931, p.1.
 Vancouver Sun, May 14, 1931, p.3.
 Debates, Vol. 3, June 4, 1931, p. 2309.
 Alex I. Inglis, ed., Documents on External Relations, Vol. 5 (Ottawa: Department of External Affairs, 1973) pp. 676-678. Hill, Canada's Salesman to the World, pp. 473-475;
 Vancouver Sun, May 13, 1931, p. 13; Vancouver Sun, Aug. 27, 1931, p.1.
 Gazette, June 3, 1931, p.12.
 Debates, Vol. 2, May 14, 1931, p.1607.
 Story, "Canada, the League of Nations and the Far East, 1931-1933: The Cahan Incident," pp. 238-239.
 Debates, Vol. 1, Jan. 30, 1928, pp. 28-29.
 Marler to SSEA, July 7, 1932, NAC, RG25, T-1804, Vol. 796, File 481; Debates, Vol. 4, July 30, 1931, p. 4335.
 SSEA to Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, July 6,1931; Marler to Skelton, July 8, 1931; Skelton to Prime Minister, July 15, 1931, NAC, RG25, T-1804, Vol. 796, File 480.
 KKP, Feb. 8, 1931, NAC, MG27III E3, Vol. 2: Diplomatic Diary, 1929-1931; Keenleyside, Memoirs of Hugh L Keenleyside, p.430; Marler to Skelton, Sept. 5, 1931, NAC, RG25, T-1804, Vol. 795, File 473.
 Skelton to Marler, July 15,1931, July 20, 1931, RG25 T-1804, Vol. 796, File 480; Marler to SSEA, July 7, 1932, NAC, RG25, T-1804, Vol. 796, File 481.
 Debates, Vol. 4, July 30, 1931, p. 4343. Marler to Bennett, July13,1931, NAC, RG25, T-1804, Vol. 796, File 480.
 Vancouver Sun, Aug. 27, 1931, pp. 1, 6. Also see, Toronto Star, Aug 11, 1931, p. 1; Globe, Aug. 11, 1931, p. 1; Globe, Aug. 12, 1931, p. 4; Winnipeg Evening Tribune, Aug. 17, 1931, p. 2; Manitoba Free Press, Aug. 18, 1931 p. 8; Edmonton Journal, Aug. 21, 1931, p. 1.
 Winnipeg Evening Tribune, Aug. 17, 1931, p.13.
 Marler to SSEA, Dec. 1, 1931, NAC, RG25, Vol. 1606, File 1931-786C, Parts 1-3
 Ottawa Evening Citizen, Sept 17, 1932, p. 4. Gazette, Sept 15, 1932, p. 10. Cahan was not formerly delegated or instructed in September to attend the special meeting in December , but according to the press, it was taken for granted that he would be present for the proceedings on Manchuria. Also, prior to leaving for the general meeting of September and October, Cahan was assigned to negotiate a new trade accord with France, which would keep him in Europe until the special meeting.
 Marler to SSEA, Dec. 1, 1931, NAC, RG25, Vol. 1606, File 1931-786C, Parts 1-3; League of Nations Official Journal, Special Supplement, pp. 57-58.
 Veatch, Canada and the League of Nations, p.119.