5 MARCH 1932, Page 14

Letters to the Editor

[In view of the length of many of the letters which we receive, we would remind correspondents that we often cannot give space for long letters and that short ones are generally read with more attention. The length which we consider most suitable is about that of one of our paragraphs on "News of the Week."—Ed. SPECTATOR.]


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—May I, as one of the millions who have seen something of war, and one of the thousands who have (or should have) read the history of Europe of the last twenty-five years,. thank you for your leading article on Japan last week ?

When Bulgaria declared her independence, and when Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, both acts were in flagrant violation of the Treaty of Berlin. Then, as now, there was a peril in broken treaties and mounting armaments. Then, as now, there was a country (Turkey before the Young Turk coup ; China to-day) so disorganized as to make it an apparently easy field of exploitation, and then, as now, the victim refused to be led to the slaughter. We all know what happened. We can also imagine what will happen in China : Japanese aggression will hasten Chinese union by twenty or a hundred years.

Japan has broken her solemn engagements under the Kellogg Pact, the Nine Power Treaty, and the League Covenant. Why should we be so anxious to "save, her face" ? Are we to try to save our faces by looking the other way ? It cannot be done : it would be a betrayal of all our ideals if it could be done : it would also mean a choice between the extinction of European civilization or a bloodier conflict than the last World War. China's territory has been invaded, her women and children and her hospitals have been attacked, her villages have been shelled because she will not buy Japanese goods. Supposing France invaded us, bombed London, devastated Hampstead and Colders Green, what would you think of some Chinese Mr. Garvin or some Japanese Sir John Simon who wrote that the world should not take sides ; and that when the ,French had done enough killing to cool their tempers they would no doubt come to some reasonable agree- ment?

Unless the League of Nations takes a firm line now, and unless public opinion in this country supports it whole- heartedly, I do not see how we can ask the Chinese to believe what our missionaries teach them about Christianity. The League should say what should be done in strict justice. I should think that it would not be unreasonable to demand that the Japanese should withdraw from the portions of Manchuria which they have so cynically invaded, and that they should offer an apology and an indemnity for the Shanghai outrages. I am well aware that Japan will do neither one nor the other unless coerced: her war party is in the ascendant. But the League should stick to justice : if the means of enforc- ing the punishment on a transgressor laid down in the Covenant are not available (that is to say, if an economic blockade of Japan is not practicable) that is a comparatively small matter : the League will have justified itself before the world, and means will be found eventually to enforce the Sanctions. But if the League temporizes, it is lost, and with it all hope of future peace. It is horrifying to hear people who looked on Germany's violation of the neutrality of Belgium as a sufficient cause for our entry into the War (which it certainly was) now saying that Japan has a growing population and must expand somewhere. That is no reason why she should break the law of nations, nor why, her offensive having failed, she should be allowed to