22 DECEMBER 1939, Page 2

Japan and the Yangtse

Admiral Nomura, the Japanese Foreign Minister, has in- formed the American Ambassador, Mr. Grew, that his Government intend to reopen the Yangtse River between Shanghai and Nanking to the merchant ships of all nations, and hope soon to afford the same facilities on the Pearl River to Canton. The closing of the Yangtse was initiated by the fighting services, who took this step in the first place in the interests of their blockade of China, but it has more and more come to be regarded as an expression of the " new order " which would deny to foreigners the rights of naviga- tion on Chinese rivers. But the Japanese Government is concerned about the trade treaty with America, which is due to expire next month, and is anxious to convince her that the " new order " will not give Japan a monopolistic position in Chinese economy. The concession is a temporary triumph for the moderate policy of the Admiral, who is being accused by the extremists of giving away Japanese rights before he is even assured of getting a quid pro quo from the United States. The riverine rights, unlike some other points in dispute, are a matter which equally affects the United States and Great Britain. It is essential that the two countries should keep step, and that Great Britain should not go beyond America in making concessions which might be thought harmful to China.