1 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 2

Pacifist Italy

The only comfort Japan has as yet received is Herr von Ribbentrop's airy declaration that the agreement with Russia must strengthen German-Japanese friendship, and Signor Mussolini's assurance that it will make no change in the relations between Japan and Italy, which are founded on the Anti-Comintern Pact. It is clear that Italy must desire those friendly relations to continue ; for if Japan should decide to revive her lost friendship with the democratic Powers, Italy will be exposed to the strongest possible concentration of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. Italy's position is not enviable. She is far more vulnerable to attack than Germany; even the victory of the Axis only promises her an existence as a province of the Reich; yet only by fulfilling her obligations has she any chance of satisfying the grandiose demands which have become the raison d'être of her policy. Thus it is not surprising that now, as in September, Italy has, apart from pacific appeals and promises, maintained a masterly inactivity. With the great crisis at hand which allows the Duce to display to the full the martial qualities whose virtue he has so often glorified, he clings with singular tenacity to the decadent blessings of peace.