From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor: Japan's Entry into World War II

From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor: Japan's Entry into World War II

From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor: Japan's Entry into World War II

From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor: Japan's Entry into World War II

Excerpt

It is not generally realized that Japan entered World War II with almost no hope of victory. Its objectives were limited, namely, to occupy the South Sea regions, to establish an impregnable defense perimeter, and to force the United States into acquiescence. However, there was a growing awareness in the minds of Japanese leaders that once the conflict was prolonged, Japan could not pit its resources against those of the United States in a war of attrition. Odds were heavily against them, yet they chose war. Was it a national hara-kiri? Why did Japan enter into war?

Perhaps part of the answer lies in Japan's peculiar political structure which barred it from adopting a flexible policy both internally and externally. There was a dual government with the civilian and military branches each vying for supremacy. Within the civilian branch, there were power struggles among the court circles, Zaibatsu, and political parties. The military itself was not free from inter-service rivalry and factional strife.

With the house divided against itself, Japan embarked on the conquest of China and Southeast Asia. First it met only a mild resistance which was followed by severe economic sanctions that cut Japan's vital supply of oil. To counteract western resistance, Japan concluded pacts with Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union.

The present work is an attempt to provide new light on the events just mentioned. It originally started as a study in Japan's decisionmaking process, but gradually broadened its character to one more akin to a diplomatic history, in corporating socio-economic factors as well as those enigmatic human elements -- jealousy, ambition and intrigue.

The main source of information for the present work is the Archives of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first group of these documents consists of the day to day correspondence and communications between the Ministry and its officials abroad; and the second group, special studies for desk use, policy guidance papers, and reference works. The third group consists of the proceedings of the Cabinet conferences, inner Cabinet decisions, inter-ministry correspondence (between the Foreign Office and the War, Navy and Finance Ministries), and the proceedings of the Privy Council. These documents are most valuable sources in determining those who were chiefly responsible for basic policy decisions, the process of such . . .

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