Gareth Jones

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Anglo-American Relations From the Japanese Point of View


Following is the first of a new series of articles from Mr. Gareth Jones, who has been captured by Chinese bandits. (March 1935) 


When I was in Japan I could hear the rumblings of the battle in Britain between those who, con­demning Japan violently, advocate an understanding with the United States and those who believe in close relations with Japan. 

Such are in Britain the two main schools about Japan. In the first there is Mr. Lloyd George, who has protested vigorously against Japan “devouring large chunks of China”; there is Gen. Smuts, whose speech on November 12 last year in London had resounding effects throughout the world, and almost forced the British Government into closer contact with America; there are Lord Lytton, Lord Lothian, and Lord Cecil with the support of the League of Nations Union.  This is a formidable array at statesmen and thinkers lined up in favour of an Anglo-American understanding. 

Japanese Virtues 

The second school is more military and conservative. It believes in the principles of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which terminated at the Wash­ington Conference in 1922. It is full of admiration for the courage and the other military virtues of the Japanese. It views with sympathy Japan’s efforts to restore order in Manchukuo and it regards any Japanese victory as a blow against Communism. 

What do the British people on the spot think of these antagonistic points of view?  In Tokyo and in Kobe I went to see some of our leading fellow-country­men and discussed with them the speeches of Mr. Lloyd George and of General Smuts and the views of the League of Nations Union.  I am not allowed to reveal the names of those with whom I talked, but the three con­versations given below are representa­tive of the most informed British opinion in Japan. 

“Dangerous Talk” 

Mr. X (what an air of mystery such a description gives!) declared: “The speeches of General Smuts, Mr. Lloyd George and the articles of Lord Lothian do a tremendous amount of harm to Great Britain and to the world.  It is dangerous for us to talk of an Anglo-American alliance, because that antagonises

Japan - it makes her more nationalistic, it increases her fear, it leads to her making a spurt in build­ing up armaments, in strengthening her navy, and in trying to double her air force. 

“Mr. Lloyd George, Gen. Smuts, and Lord Lothian have never been, I believe, to the Far East. They do not know the Far East mentality. They little realise what effect their words have on a sensi­tive nation like Japan by increasing its phobias and it’s feeling of isolation. You cannot intimidate the Japanese into peace by threatening an Anglo-American alliance. You must work with the Japanese, cajole them, and discuss everything with them,” 

Losses To Our Trade 

“Speeches like those of Gen. Smuts and Mr. Lloyd George have meant great losses to British trade.  I know of big orders, which have not been made because of the belief among the Japanese that Britain is antagonistic to them.  Neither do I agree with those who shout for a close alliance with Japan at the expense of America. We must steer between the two policies and others and thus, without antagonizing America, maintain good relations with Japan.  

There has been a real improvement in relations between Japan and Britain in spite of General Smuts and Mr. Lloyd a George.  This is due to the visit last year of the Economic Mission, which was important because for long the Japanese have considered themselves insulted by the British.  They think that they were badly treated when the British denounced the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1922, when the British sent battleships to Shanghai in 1927 without consulting the Japanese, when she sent in 1930 a mission of second-rate business men who knew nothing about Japan and made a bad impression, and when she opposed the Japanese entry into Manchukuo. The Economic Mission has reverse these grievances however, and done a great deal of good. 

We must realise also that the Japanese are going show that they desire peace that they want to co-operate sincerely with China and with Soviet Russia.  There has been an amazing change from hatred to friendship with the Soviet Union.  An era of co-operation is beginning in the Pacific, and it must not be marred by anti-Japanese talk in. England.” 

The Other Point of View 

That is what Mr. X said.  My friend Mr. Y had a completely opposite point of view.  He applauded Mr Lloyd George’s utterances, he said: “The L.G. Is quite right. The Japanese are aiming at the domination of North China.  They are going to make the Emperor Kang Te (Pu Yi) rule over a great Manchurian empire, which will control in, Japan’s interest, the vast area north of the Yangtze.   

“Watch Shantung.  In that province the Japanese will, by bribery and other methods create a bogus independence movement.  They will pay some Chinese politicians or generals to raise the banners with the cry: “We want to be ruled by the Emperor Kang Te.  We want to belong to the Manchu Empire!” 

The Japanese will control Peking and they will extend their domination all over China. 

I do not mean to say that they will send troops all over China.  That is a physical impossibility but they will seize some of the ports and they will be able to threaten South China from Formosa.  They will obtain possession of coastal places like Amoy.

 Only co-operation between Britain and America can stop moves like that. I applaud Mr. Lloyd George for trying to put a stop to Japan’s ravenous appetite!” 

Majority Opinion 

Let me repeat a third conversation - representative of the opinion of most British people in Japan: “Talk of a British alliance with, America is nonsense. The Americans will never dream of an alliance.  Don’t they always repeat the parrot-cry of ‘No entangling alliances,’ which Washington is supposed to have said?” 

“We can never rely upon Americans.  They are shot through and through with a passion for isolation.  They are at last realising that they really have no great interests in the Far East and that their investments are only one-sixth of the British investments in China.  America is withdrawing from Asia and entering into her own shell.  They refuse to join the World Court: they never wished to join the League of Nations and the rest of the globe is an anathema to them.  We could never have faith in the United States especially since they are abandoning the Philippines.  They would never be willing to help us to defend Hong Kong or Shanghai.  Hence our only alternative is a close understanding with Japan. 

Which is the rights point of view? I shall not make up my mind until been through the Far East visited China and Manchukuo and returned for second visit to Japan.


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