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Menace Of War Between America and Japan. Non-Existent.

Far East Contents

By Gareth Jones 
Friday, March 15th, 1935

Will there one day be war between America and Japan? 

This was the vital topic of conversation I found in the clubs and embassies of Washington.  I feel that the menace is almost non-existent, that it has been a scare engineered unscrupulous newspapers and by certain Californian interests who want to have the fleet concentrated in the Pacific in order that California may benefit from the naval pay- roll and orders. 

When I expressed these views to a leading diplomat (not British) he disagreed with me.  “You minimise the danger of war,” he said.  “A fight must come.  Japan must extend towards the Philippines, Sumatra, and Java, and America must stop her.” 

I replied: “But I do not think America would sacrifice lives and money to stop Japan expanding.”

“You have forgotten the trade conflict,” he retorted.  “Japanese competition is extending everywhere, and they offer great competition in South America.  America must stop Japan. 

“Look at the other causes of conflict.  America refuses to recognise Manchukuo. America hurts Japanese sensitiveness to the core by refusing to admit a single Japanese immigrant.

“But the greatest danger is on neutral rights.  If there is war between Japan and Russia, Americans are certain to send contraband goods to Russia or goods to China destined for Russia; cotton for instance will be despatched, and cotton is used in munitions.  One fine day a. Japanese cruiser is going to stop an American boat, and Americans will say: “What do they mean by interfering with our trade?’  And over-night there might be a war situation.” 

At the Embassy

With these disturbing expressions ringing in my ears I decided to call and see the man most responsible for relations between Japan and America, namely, Mr. Saito the Japanese Ambassador.

Mr. Saito, a small courteous man with delicately termed features, more aquiline than the usual Japanese, laughed away prophecies of war between Japan and America.  There are no causes of conflict between the United States and Japan,” he declared. 

He then outlined tome his idea of a basis of an agreement between America and Japan, which would consolidate peace in the Pacific.  For the United States to recognise Manchukuo, he stated, would be the first step towards such an agreement. 

Secondly, if the United States abolished the Exclusion Act of 1924 relations would be improved.  By this Act all immigration of Japanese into the United States was forbidden.  The Ambassador declared to me that even if only 100 Japanese were allowed to enter the step would be appreciated, because it was a matter of principle rather than numbers.  The Ambassador resented the Japanese being treated as an inferior race not worthy of entering the United States. 

Naval Equality

Thirdly, there might be an agreement between the United States and Japan if America recognised the principle of naval equality for Japan and agreed to abandon the 5 – 5 - 3 ratio for naval vessels.

I asked the Ambassador about the economic conflict.  He stated that there should be no economic conflict, because Japan needed American cotton and steel, while America wanted Japanese silk.  He denied that there was much competition in world markets.  “We sell pencils, cheap cotton goods and such wares.  We do not compete in American exports of automobiles,” he said.

“What about the open door? Are you not blocking the principle of equal opportunities of trade in China?” I asked, and raised the question of the oil monopoly in Manchukuo. 

The Ambassador answered that the oil monopoly was a question for the Manchukuo Government, for which the Japanese were not responsible.  He claimed that the oil monopoly did not crush foreign sellers.  If they had claims they could make them to the Manchukuo Government 

Peace With China

The most remarkable part of my interview with the Japanese Ambassador was his prophecy of peace between China and Japan.  He claimed that in China public opinion was growing in favour of an agreement with Japan.  Chiang Kai-shek, he said, wanted this agreement.

“Why should the Chinese be willing to bury the hatchet after the events in Manchukuo?”  I asked. 

The Ambassador replied that the Chinese had been disillusioned on two points.  The first was in the League of Nations, which had not stood up for China.  Moreover, China was no longer on the Council of the League.  The second was in regard to Russia, especially after the Soviet Union had sold the Chinese Eastern Railway.  This was a blow to Chinese prestige, for they felt that they had been abandoned by the Russians, whom, they thought, would remain as a barrier to Japanese influence in the Far East.

Will China and Japan come to an agreement?  This will be one of the outstanding problems for me to study on the spot.  Such an agreement would have a great effect on Japanese-American relations, and would make a war Japan and America almost impossible.


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