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Composition of the Lytton Commission

The Lytton Commission and Japanese assessor Yoshida (source: Schnee, Völker und Mächte im Fernen Osten)

The resolution to install a commission of inquiry, later called Lytton Commission, passed the Council of the League of Nations on 10 December 1931. A drafting committee discussed the constitution of the Lytton Commission and its areas of responsibility. They agreed the task of the Lytton Commission was to study the situation and to report all circumstances of the conflict between Japan and China to the Council. Thus it was not the Commission’s role to act as mediator or negotiator but to collect the information needed for finding a solution. Following its resolution, the League of Nations was looking for people from an adequate professional background which would qualify them to assess the situation in Manchuria. The composition of the new Commission was remarkable in that many of those who were involved had gained their expertise in colonial contexts while their profile in international politics was rather low. As far as procedure went, the members of the Commission were nominated by their respective national governments and selected by the President of the League Council. Moreover they needed to be acknowledged by the two conflicting parties: China and Japan.

In the end the Commission headed by Lord Victor Bulwer-Lytton (Great Britain) included General Henri-Edouard Claudel (France), Heinrich Schnee (Germany), Count Luigi Aldrovandi-Marescotti (Italy) and General Frank Ross McCoy (USA). The commissioners were at times joined by the two assessors Wellington Koo (China) and Yoshida Isaburo (Japan), the general secretary of the Commission, Robert Haas as well as a number of secretaries, (personal) assistants and advisors. No women were included in the commission.