25 OCTOBER 1940, Page 2

Japan, Britain and America

The Burma Road is open, lorries are pouring into China along it and the Japanese Air Force is doing its best to bomb them as they go. There is little likelihood that air-raids will make the road impassable. Vast gangs of coolies are waiting to repair any damage, and even if bridges are destroyed ample bridging material is ready wherever it may be needed. More- over, one of the chief imports along the road will be American aeroplanes, which, if they arrive safely, will soon be available to protect the route they have travelled over. If by intent or inadvertence the Japanese start bombing on the Burma side of the frontier, a tense situation will arise, and it is to be assumed that we have assurances of American support in whatever action may be necessary. Britain and the United States are no doubt maintaining equally close contact regarding the supply of oil to Japan from the Dutch Indies. Washington and London are concerned because there is considerable British and American capital in the supplying companies, Royal Dutch and Shell. So far no action has been taken in the matter, on the reasonable ground that neither Britain nor the United States is at war with Japan, and it is to the interest of neither at the moment to take steps that might drive her into war, or indeed to upset normal trade relations. America, while she has banned the export of the high-octane aviation spirit, is herself supplying lower-grade petrol to Japan, and could obviously therefore not object to ',he Dutch Indies doing so. Moreover,. the fear that in certain circumstances the oil-supply might be cut off would act as something of a check on Japan. However, actually no oil agreement has yet been concluded.