“Japan never declares war before attacking.”
—General Billy Mitchell in 1932.
Europe was not the only continent darkened by war in the year of 1941. Americans interested in international diplomacy kept watching the events in Europe, but on the other side of the globe other ominous happenings were happening. Militarists in control of the Japanese government were well along in plans to bring India, Burma, Indonesia, IndoChina, and the Philippines into the Japanese Empire.
Not many Americans were bothered in the late thirties when Japan had denounced all naval agreements made in 1921 and 1930. By 1937, administration officials in Washington, D.C. were looking toward Europe where infections were bubbling into a genuine boil.
In 1931 only a few U.S. citizens took notice of the aggressive actions of Japan, who since 1915 had been vying with the United States for influence and access to China, which was struggling with revolution and civil war. Japan needed resources, and it sought to relieve a population boom by sending people to Manchuria. Battles raged. Japanese leaders sent troops into the Chinese cities of Mukden, Ch’ang-chi’un, and Kirin. In an opening move six years afterwards, which in reality set the stage for the beginning of World War II in the Far East, Japanese soldiers in July 1937 took over the cities of Peking and Tientsin, called their assault the “China Incident.” Tokyo was furious that this struggle was