12 SEPTEMBER 1940, Page 2

Japan's Demand on Indo-China

In regard to Indo-China, Japan has to balance her desire to take advantage of the weak position of the French in that country against her fear of driving the United States to extreme measures. The United States could seriously embarrass Japan if she made use of the licences to export petrol and scrap metal in such a way as to impose a virtual embargo on these com- modities. Early this week it was reported that Admiral Decoux, the French Governor-General of Indo-China, had not yielded to the Japanese demand to allow passage of troops through Tonkin by rail to the Chinese border ; for the Chinese have very natur- ally insisted that if the Japanese make use of Indo-China they will have no alternative but to move into French territory them- selves, and the Admiral doubtless recognised that the acceptance of the Japanese demands would be to turn Indo-China into a battlefield of the Chinese war. But subsequent reports from Chinese sources state that he has been subjected to pressure from Vichy, and has agreed to allow 12,000 Japanese to use the Indo-Chinese railway and a camp within twelve miles of it. Had the French persisted in their objection any attempt on the part of the Japanese to force a passage would have constituted an obvious infringement of the status quo, which Japan, out of deference to the United States, would have hesitated to inflict. But the situation is obscure. The latest reports again deny the French capitulation.