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Washington Naval Conference

In the euphoria of victory in World War I the Allies with interests in the Pacific Ocean, America, Britain and Japan, were interested in avoiding an expensive arms race that might well have been caused by their conflicting interests in territories of the Far East. US Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, stimulated by the evident wish of the American people to decrease their international responsibilities, called the Washington Naval Conference of 1921-22. The naval race was stopped, they agreed to respect each other's territorial holdings in the Pacific and not to augment their military installations there, China was to be open to trade for everyone and the Japanese actually withdrew from Siberia and from Shantung. It appeared to be a triumph for President Harding's administration. Kaga, for example, which had been laid down by the Japanese as a battleship, was completed as an aircraft carrier, a category open to development. The American holdings of the Philippines and Guam were left vulnerable, as were British territories such as Hong Kong and Singapore. By the time the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was at issue, Britain and the USA were weak in the Pacific and the Far East.

See also: Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere; Japan; Kaga