22 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 2

Japan and Russia

The announcement of the conclusion of an armistice between the puppet States of Mongolia and Manchukuo, in other words between Soviet Russia and Japan, on September 6th, coincided with the announcement of the Russian in- vasion of Poland. It is hard to think the two events are unconnected, though it would be premature to assume that Russia had reversed her usual policy and was turning for expansion towards Europe rather than Asia. Rumours that the armistice is to be followed by the conclusion of a non- aggression pact are denied in both Tokyo and Moscow. Certain results of the agreement are clear. The chief of them is that Japan will be free to devote more of her atten- tion to General Chiang Kai-shek, though it does not follow that Russia, which is capable of pursuing two or three apparently contradictory policies at once, will withdraw all support from the Chinese Government. Japan herself is maintaining an extremely vigilant neutrality. Germany is working hard to destroy the harm done by the Russo-German Pact, but the partnership in brigandage in Poland is hardly likely to help her. The report that the German liner Scharnhorst,' which took refuge at Kobe, is being fitted out as a raider is denied. Such action would, of course, be a flagrant breach of international law by Japan, which seems on the whole to be too conscious of the watchful eye of the United States to want to embroil herself in the European conflict.