On Schedule

by "Vista"

The main line of Japanese penetration into the Southern Pacific, perhaps patterned after German practices during this war, has been the expansion of routes by the Japanese airline, which during the past year and a half have moved down to within easy striking distance of English and American military and commercial airbases in the Pacific ocean. Quite a while ago this column mentioned the new route to the Palau Islands, which at the time very obviously was only started by Japan for military reasons, even though the Japanese claimed it had great commercial value. It crossed Pan American's Pacific services, and since it was officially opened, little more of news value was heard about it, except perhaps the fact that Japanese travelers would have to do without hostesses or "geishas with wings".

Suddenly, like a bombshell, news came during the middle of October that Portugal, obviously under severe German pressure for concessions to the Axis partners, had granted the Japanese landing rights at Dilli, capital of Portugal's half of the island of Timor, one of a large group of islands very near to the coast of Northern Australia, and about two hours' flying from Port Darwin. The issue was made explosive due to the fact that the Netherlands owned the other half of this island, and that it contained important military and commercial airplane bases, besides constituting the jumping-off point of several commercial airlines to Australia, 400 miles distant.

The flight from Palau to Dilli would involve the crossing of a major part of the Netherlands East Indies archipelago, many islands of which are being fortified as naval and air bases for the protection of one of Democracy's main sources of many vital raw materials. Though negotiations have not yet started at this writing, Japan will have to obtain the necessary permits from the Netherlands to fly across its territory, and unless the whole matter is used as the spark in the powder barrel of the Pacific, the route may well be talked to death.

Immediate action appears to have been taken by both the Australian and Netherlands governments to counteract this latest move of Japan's "commercial" airline; action which was speeded up when the Nippon press openly crowed about this route's military value. Interesting sidelight to the whole matter is the fact that this government has for many years refused permission to the Netherlands to let its commercial airliners fly into Manila, claiming that such a franchise would force them to give similar liberty to Japan, thereby aiding her southward expansion; present developments perhaps will speed the completion of a faster connection between Indies and equally vital Philippines.

This news clip is taken from "On Schedule", which was published as a sidebar to the "Aviation Abroad" column in the December, 1941, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 40, no 12, p 150.