18 FEBRUARY 1949, Page 2

Remember Japan

There is something profoundly disturbing in the fact that a single disputed " off the record" statement by a single American official should have posed overnight all the most fundamental questions about the future of Japan. The plain fact is that much of the world had forgotten that those questions existed. The spokesman in question is alleged—on the authority of the correspondents of several respected American newspapers—to have said that in certain circumstances there would be little point in maintaining the American occupation. The rksons that he is said to have given were fantastically sweeping nd their weakness is easily enough exposed by a statement of alternatives. It was said that Japan was worthless (to the Americans, that is) as a base for bombers, since there were no worthwhile targets in Eastern Siberia. Would it be worthless to the Russians ? It was said that Japan must be a liability to the Power occupying it. Would the Russians so regard it ? It was said that in the event of war Russia would not invade Japan. What is the position in the event of peace, or cold war ? All these issues may be real some day. But at present there is no official indication whatever that the occupation of Japan is about to end. There is no indication that the Japanese are able or even willing to stand on their own feet. But quite certainly those Japanese who are already behaving as if they never lost the war in the Pacific will not be shocked into a reasonable frame of mind by a dark American threat to go away and leave them. What exists is a series of real questions. What modifications in American policy are called for by the advance of the Communists in China ? What is the exact strategic significance of Japan ? What chance is there that the Japanese will adopt a moderate and responsible Government ? And when is the treaty of peace to be formally discussed ? Japan may be a long way away, but its affairs cannot be forgotten. When they have been forgotten in the past the reminders have been too 'expensive—Singapore, Pearl Harbour, or, for that matter; Hiroshima.