The United States called the Washington Naval Conference in 1921 to discuss security issues in the Pacific region. The United States, Great Britain, Japan, France, China, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and the Netherlands made up the Washington Naval Conference countries. They created some essential treaties that answered the following question: How did the Washington Naval Conference show anti-militarism in the 1920s?


The whole world was shocked by World War I and its terrible consequences. Numerous nations decided that they needed to do their best to prevent another war from happening. That is why the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and France signed the Four-Power Treaty to consult one another before taking any measures to address an East Asian crisis. According to the agreement, the signatories were obliged to respect the territorial rights of other nations over the Pacific islands.

The purpose of that Washington Naval Conference document was to protect European colonies in Asia against Japanese influence and minimize the probability of forcing multiple sides to participate in a conflict if one emerged. In addition to that, the document canceled all the preliminary agreements between Japan and Great Britain. This fact was essential for the USA because it denoted that the United Kingdom was not obliged to support the eastern nation in case of a Japanese-American conflict.

The Five-Power Treaty represented the most significant Washington Naval Conference disarmament initiative. According to the given treaty, the United States, Great Britain, Japan, France, and Italy agreed to decrease the sizes of their navies significantly.

The agreement stipulated how many capital ships each country was allowed to possess, which made the nations to scrap a high number of their vessels to meet the required numbers. Those numbers were different for the countries depending on their size and the presence of colonial territories.

Furthermore, the contracting parties were obliged to cancel all the capital shipbuilding programs to avoid an arms race. However, this treaty failed to be successful because it did not cover all types of ships. Consequently, the countries kept increasing their navies by building many smaller ships.

The Nine-Power Washington Naval Treaty was crucial for China since it affirmed its independence and sovereignty. All the participants of the conference agreed to respect the territorial integrity of China, while this country was obliged to provide all nations with equal possibilities to do business within its borders.

In addition to that, the parties to the treaty created a commission to discuss and regulate Chinese tariff policies. According to that document, any violation of the terms would result in further consultations to find a peaceful way to solve a challenge.

In conclusion, it is impossible to overestimate the significance of the Washington Naval Conference for peace and security in the whole world. The United States organized that event to create international agreements that would prevent military conflicts from happening. The participating countries voluntarily agreed to limit their navies, reduce geopolitical interests, and take other required measures.

One can note that this event was one of the most significant manifestations of anti-militarism movements in the world in the 1920s. However, it is challenging to define the Washington Naval Conference outcome unequivocally because it did not result in benefits in the long run. It significantly limited the militarization in the world, but it was not enough to avoid World War II.

Washington Naval Conference
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