Editorial – Japan’s Turn

12 December 1942

South Yorkshire Times – Saturday 12 December 1942

Japan’s Turn

Mr. Churchill’s message this week to British Far Eastern territories occupied by the Japanese left the enemy in the Pacific no illusions about the firmness of British purpose in this as in the Western theatre of the war.

” The growing power of the United Nations will press steadfastly on till she is stripped of her conquests, punished for her treachery and deprived of her powers of evil. Retribution was always sure. It is now growing near.”

In these words the Prime Minister expressed Britain’s inexorable determination to do considerably more than even the score in the Far East. Previously he had envisaged the final reckoning with Japan as the last reckoning of all in this great conflict, and this may well be so, but the reckoning will be no less thorough and exact for awaiting its turn in the inescapable order of things.

True to their national genius for thuggery on the grand scale, the Japanese, timing their treachery like Mussolini, nevertheless exceeded in grandiloquence the conception of the Duce’s stroke. Pearl Harbour gave them a flying start. The recent release of fuller details of this catastrophe reveals the damaging effect of this audacious attack. Time and prodigious effort afforded the only means of neutralising the blow, and it is to the great credit of the Americans that they not only gritted their teeth and set to work immediately to make up the leeway but also struck back violently and to admirable purpose with such strength as remained to them.

The result is that the marked improvement in the prospects of the United Nations in the West has not been achieved at the expense of further set-backs in the East. Much has been lost there and must be won back, but all went down in the first shock of surprise gained by Japanese treachery. Distance obviated rapid reinforcement, even if the Allies’ supply position had rendered such assistance possible. But ever since the landslide was checked the Japanese navy has been made the object of a campaign of attrition which has already seriously impaired its effectiveness.

United States Marines grimly entrenched in the Solomons, and shielded by strong sea and air forces have beaten off counter attack after counter attack. Japan has lost not only face, but effective footing in this strategic island group. Her efforts to bolster up what forces she has been able to retain in the Solomon have been terribly expensive in naval craft, which she can replace at a speed in no way comparable with that possible to America and Britain. It is not an extravagant comparison to set this wastage of sea power against the German wastage of man power on the Eastern front. The cumulative result is a draining of strength from Japan’s most powerful arm, the arm which has won all she has gained.

Thus it may be that while achieving victory in the West the Allies will have laid sound foundations for the ultimate denouement in the East. It is certainly not likely that the world-wide ramifications of the war will reach a common conclusion. Japan will cling to what she has seized with all the tenacity of a desperado, as witness the fanatical defence of the Buna and Gona beaches, but relentless forces are working her undoing. The fiery emblem of the Empire of the Rising Sun will be eclipsed by the smoke and dust of Japan’s own ruin.