The Naval Talks The proposal to initiate informal discussions, in
which Great Britain, the United States, Japan, France and Italy will all join, with a view to next year's Naval Conference is entirely wise. Serious difficulties are bound to arise at the Conference, and it is highly desirable to smooth out sonic of them in advance if that be possible. Whether the stipulation that these preliminary conversations shall be confined to technical questions and avoid political issues is official does not seem quite clear, but the dis- tinction will not be easy to observe. Something may no doubt be achieved in the. way of agreement on the tonnage of battleships (if these are to survive) and cruisers, and the calibre of guns, but the real problems of the Conference will be raised by Japan's claim to vary the 5 5 3 ratio in her own favour—a development which would change the balance of naval power in the Pacific, and has a direct bearing- on Japan's recent claim to establish a so-called Monroe Doctrine over China. The adoption of an Anglo-American front against Japan is not to be advocated, but nothing can he more urgent than that this country and the United States should arrive at the fullest understanding between themselves on the technical and every other aspect of the naval problem.