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The Outbreak of the Pacific War
Transcript of The Outbreak of the Pacific War
‘In December 1941 Western brinkmanship caused an unnecessary war.’
Crucial Steps to War
July 1940 Japanese invade northern Indochina
July 1941 Japanese decision to invade southern Indochina.
August 1941 US decision to implement a full oil embargo
October 1941 Japanese decision to go ahead with the Pearl Harbor attack
1. Western Brinkmanship
a) Increasing Western involvement in the Pacific War.
b) Increasingly threatening stance towards Japan.
American assistance to China.
‘acting like a cunning dragon seemingly asleep.’
Growing US naval strength.
US oil embargo.
c) The West miscalculated Japan's willingness to go to war.
‘Japan has historically shown that when the United States... intends to carry out a clear and affirmative policy in the Far East, Japan will yield’
2. Japanese Expansionism
a) Japanese aggression.
c) Quest for resources.
Saki Dockrill in Hirohito, the Emperor’s Army and Pearl Harbor.
Fear of encirclement.
d) Belief in the inevitability of war.
'Now or never' mentality.
b) Incoherent decision-making structures.
3. Influence of the war in Europe
b) Deep aversion to appeasement.
Roosevelt preoccupied with deteriorating situation in Europe.
The importance of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
Memorandum by Cecil W. Gray, Assistant to the Secretary of State on July 24 1941, which says that ‘Japan was not in danger in the South Sea area. Hence that country must be bent on conquest, in which case some future Japanese Government would take the final steps toward domination of that entire region.’
a) Situation on the ground.
4. Inevitability of War?
b) Underlying racial undertones in international relations.
Economic collapse in the 20's led to political instability.
Sense of racial superiority in the West - Churchill often referred to the Chinese as ‘Little yellow men’.
Japanese frustration at being denied privileges which the Western powers themselves enjoyed.
a) Changes in international structures.
Christopher G. Thorne in Allies of a Kind: The United States, Britain, and the War Against Japan.