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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: The World at War

Let Japan Choose

Scroll depicting the Great Fire of Meireki.

JAPAN is, to put it bluntly, out on a limb. It is possible for the United States, acting in concert with the British nations, China, the Dutch Government of the East Indies, and the Soviet Government of Siberia, to saw off that limb; or, alternatively, to help Japan to descend from her precarious perch, on fair terms, with a minimum of injury and loss of face. We should be prepared to do the first and offer to do the second. Then let Japan choose.

It is becoming more and more apparent that Japan made a bad choice in joining the Axis. What can she look forward to as a partner of Germany? If the Nazis win in Europe, Japan's rôle will be at first that of a jackal, later that of a vassal and puppet. If Germany loses in Europe, Japan will have to make terms with the anti-Axis Powers, who will be in undisputed control of all the important communication routes and markets and sources of raw materials in the world, who will be strongly armed and flushed with victory, and who will have suffered such injury and devastation as to be in no mood for gentle dealing with any member of the Axis gang. In this situation, Japan's bargaining power would be nil. On the other hand, suppose the war in Europe develops into a long deadlock, with Germany holding the Continent, but with Britain unconquered and the Anglo-American fleets still ruling the wide oceans of the world. If Siberia were still outside the clutches of the Axis, and still resisting, no route would be open between Japan and Germany. This means there would be no outlet for Japanese silk or textiles or manufactures in Nazi-dominated Europe, and no means by which Japan could get from her Axis partner those outside supplies which are essential to her industrial existence. If, however, the Trans-Siberian Railway could be seized and operated by the Axis, thus keeping open a communications route

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