RUSSIA TAKES A HAND
the simple announcement that Russia, at the request of her Allies, is nqw at war with Japan, Generalissimo Stalin has resolved all doubts about his intentions. Within the space of three days the enemy has received two blows each of which, in itself, make the comparatively early finish of the struggle in the Far East a certainty. In combination the atomic bomb and Russian intervention set the seal on Japan's fate, and the optimists who have wagers that the war will be over by Christmas may yet collect their bets. The Russian declaration of war is the long-expected outcome of the abrogation of the SovietJapanese non-aggression pact. From the day four months ago when Japan was informed the pact would not be renewed it became a virtual certainty that, when the tinie was ripe, Russia would take an active part in operations. The big question became not if, but when. It now seems obvious that the discussions between the British, American and Red Army General Staffs during the Potsdam Conference centred round Russian intervention, and it is probable also that the British and American leaders took Marshal Stalin into their confidence concerning their plans to use the atomic bomb. Stalin has made up his mind, and in doing so has strengthened his claims (whatever they may prove to be), to territory now under Japanese domination.
Now that Russia has joined us vast new strategic possibilities are opened up. Japanese strategy has been based, firstly, on defence of the homeland, and secondly on the so-called "Inner Fortress" on the mainland of Asia. Both are said to be self-contained, and a popular theory has been that even if the Mikado was defeated in his home islands he would move across to his puppet empire of Manchukuo and carry on the fight there. The whcle situation has undergone radical change. Poised along the 1500-mile border of Manchukuo are powerful Russian armies. They were there even during the darkest days of the German invasion of Russia. Specially equipped and trained for campaigning under rigorous conditions, they are deployed from Outer Mongolia to Vladivostok. With them by now will be veteran divisions transferred from the west, tried and proved in battle. The prospects for the Japanese field commander in Manchukuo are grim. He and his 1,000,000 men face certain disaster.
Russian intervention also means that countless new bases on the mainland of Asia, within 500-700 miles of the principal Japanese targets, may be available, and it will be interesting to see how far the Soviet High Command welcomes American air force aid. The shuttle from Okinawa over Japanese targets and on to the vicinity of Vladivostok has obvious advantages, and it is certain that General Spaatz will have bases on Russian territory in the minimum time if he is free to include that territory in his strategic planning.
The Japanese Government has been sensitive to the dangers of Soviet intervention ever since Pearl Harbour, and only last month the Tokyo radio, bewailing the fate of Nazi Germany, attributed her defeat to the fact that the Nazis were forced to fight a two-front war. Japan's position now is far more awkward than was Germany's when the Allied armies were pressing in from east and west. Between the Japanese armies in the homeland and Manchukuo lie the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, and already General Kenny, commander of the United States air forces based on Okinawa, has announced the virtual blockade of Japan itself. Reinforcement either of men or supplies will in future be impossible, and the Japanese must now face the fact that defeat is in the offing. Just how the final phase of the war will develop is uncertain, but it should be remembered that defeated Japan is to lose everything outside the four home islands and the Ryukyus. These are the only terms on which unconditional surrender is to be based. Thus the Emperor and his Government, in the light of latest developments, must soon decide whether to accept a fate which they may regard as equivalent to economic suicide, or to attempt to prolong a struggle which for the Japanese homeland will have most terrible consequences.
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RUSSIA TAKES A HAND, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 187, 9 August 1945
RUSSIA TAKES A HAND Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 187, 9 August 1945
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