Courtesy Reuters

The Dutch East Indies Adrift

THE German invasion of Holland and the flight of Queen Wilhelmina's Government have thrown the Dutch East Indies largely on their own devices. Indeed, as these lines are written there are indications that the center of Dutch economic and financial life is being transferred to the Indies. For instance, leading Netherlands banks and shipping companies are reported to have removed their headquarters to Batavia. Likewise in the political sphere, the Indies are becoming the center of Dutch power. The Governor-General, Jonkheer Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer, has been empowered to act on his own authority, if necessary. The question therefore arises as to whether the East Indies will be able to survive as a Dutch possession. The answer to this question depends on such important factors as the economic and strategic value of the islands, the state of their defenses, and the policy which the United States would adopt towards any aggression against them.

On April 16, 1940, the Indies found, to their dismay, that they had become the object of those assurances of good will and disinterestedness which have come to be the first harbingers of imminent "protection" and destruction. On that day, Mr. Arita, the Foreign Minister of Japan, stated in the veiled but significant language of diplomacy that because of economic and other considerations "the Japanese Government cannot but be deeply concerned over any development accompanying the aggravation of the war in Europe that may affect the status quo of the Netherlands East Indies." This declaration came two months after Japan's denunciation of her arbitration treaty with The Netherlands, an act which Tokyo officially described as having no political importance, being merely a routine gesture preparatory to the negotiation of a new treaty. To Mr. Arita's statement, the American Secretary of State replied on the following day (April 17) that "intervention in the domestic affairs of the Netherlands Indies or any alteration of their status quo by other than peaceful processes would be prejudicial to the cause of stability, peace, and security

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