Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. THURSDAY. MAY 11, 1905. FRANCO-JAPANESE RELATIONS.
It is now clear that Rozjesfcvenski during the last few weeks ha^ been making rucq use of French waters m general and Kamrauh Bay m particular, as involved a serious breach of neutrality on the pait of France m allowing it. It is stated that the Russian Admiral used Kainranh Bay as a naval ba?e, and that coal and provisions | to replenish his dangerously short Btock were taken on board the vessels of the Bal- I tic Fleet from French transports m ,the Bay, while the French cruiser Descartes i was looking on watching operations and making no protest. When Admiral Jonqnieres, who commands the French fleet m Indo-Chinese waters, learned of these proceedings, he insisted on Rozjestvenski " moving on "; but by that time the violalation of French neutrality had been committed, and the Baltic Fleet had fitted itself to proceed on its journey. All this time St. Petersburg officials followed their usual course of pleading complete ignorance of their Admiral's conduct, and protested that he had orders to be punctilious m observing the rules of neutrality. No doubt he had secret orders to make the best use he could of every opportunity. That suoh is the case seems almost certain from the reports that after leaving Kamranh Bay Rozjeßtvenßki has proceeded to other harbours along the Indo-Chinese coast, and is there repeating his conduct of a few weeks ago. He is said to have used French anchorages along the coast, and to be otherwise violating the laws of neutrality laid down by the nations. Under these circumstances, it is easy to sympathise with the indignation and resentment felt by Japan againßt France. Open accusations have been, made by the Japanese press against France, to the effect that the latter country has deliberately shut her eyes to what was going on m order to aid her ally as much as possible. It is, however, hardly credible that French statesmen would adopt a course at once so dishonourable and* so risky. The situation that France finds herself m just at present is, admittedly, a difficult one, and it is hard for her to deoide exactly where to draw the line between what she oan assent to \ and what she must sternly refuse where an ally is concerned. But one must assume that the French Premier and Foreign | Minister would not run the risk of plunging their country into such a gigantic and terrible conflict as would eventuate if Japan and Britain W6re matched on one side against France and Russia on the other. That the present crisis should have arisen, is doubly unfortunate at a time when suoh a cordial understanding has been brought about between Britain and France. That the crisis has not yet passed, is plain from the cabled reports of the tone of the Japanese press, who have declared more than once that the time is fast coming for Jap^n to take some decisive action. A very significant event at the present moment is the postponement of the British naval manoeuvres, thi3 step being decided on by the Admiralty from the fear that Japan .miy at any moment be exasperated into opening hostilities with France. Such an outcome as would be involved m that event would bo a sorry fruit for Britain to reap from the Anglo-Japan-ese Alliance; for if Britain's ally and Britain's friend went to war, Britain would be reduced fro fighting against the friend she has taken so much trouble to win, and the cordial friendship of the two nations separated by the 1 British Channel, would be dissolved for an indefinite length of time. However, oae may rest assured that British and French statesmen are at present doing their utmost to preclude such a possibility as that which is now looming so threateningly before them.