I hope Japan's additional $9 billion pledge to help finance the war against Iraq will put a lid on members of Congress who criticize the Japanese for not contributing their fair share to the effort {news story, Jan. 25}. While I agree that it would be nice if our wealthy ally -- out of a sense of friendship and loyalty -- wanted to help us pay our bills, it's really not Japan's responsibility.

The over-used argument that because Japan depends so much more on Persian Gulf oil than we do, it should bear a significant share for the cost of the war, is irrational and merely leads to more Japan bashing. The argument assumes that stopping Saddam Hussein in his tracks is a prerequisite to ensuring the flow of oil from the Gulf, and that's not true. First of all, this war is much more about principle and maintaining the current world order than about oil. Second, if it were about oil, it would be about "cheap oil." Japan's main interest is having "sufficient oil."

As the Japanese see it, no matter how bad the political situation in the Middle East may get, there will always be plenty of oil on the market, because the region is so dependent on this resource for revenue. Countries like Iraq may come along and do nasty things that send the price of oil skyrocketing, but that's a price Japan seems willing to pay. We can't blame them for that. MARCO A. CACERES Annandale

To a certain extent I agree with the Jan. 25 editorial "A German Response." Germany should be grateful for the years of NATO support during the Cold War. I too have been saddened by demonstrators in Germany implying an equivalence in the morality of American and Iraqi actions in the Gulf. However, I am uncomfortable with the tone of the editorial and recent statements to the effect that Germany and Japan are not contributing enough in the Gulf and are somehow opulent freeloaders.

Every country has carefully weighed the objectives and the costs of the Gulf war. In this country, there was only limited support for war, as reflected by the closeness of the vote in Congress. It is therefore not surprising that in Germany and Japan -- two countries that know better than most the cost of modern warfare -- there should also be considerable reluctance to go to war. Indeed, antiwar sentiment in Germany and Japan should not be interpreted as disloyalty but as a warning to those in this country who are enthusiastic for war. ALAN BUZACOTT Washington