Roosevelt and Japan
SECRETARY HULL BELIEVED THAT IN THE FALL OF 1940 THE United States caused Japan to postpone new aggressions. The Roosevelt administration advanced new economic sanctions against Japan when Japan joined the Axis military alliance, and carefully nourished the uncertainty of Japanese leaders regarding future American intentions. This, Hull believed, had kept Japan from seizing the greatest opportunity of its history when France and the Netherlands fell and Britain seemed about to fall.
During the winter, Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka and other pro-Axis and militarist Japanese turned once more to belligerent assertions of Japanese ambitions. Hull on January 13, 1941, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the "new order" in Asia meant domination of nearly half the people of the world by one country and that such a program was of concern to every other nation. Matsuoka answered in a speech to the Japanese Diet a week later that he wanted the United States to agree to Japanese supremacy over the whole of the western Pacific and to end economic restrictions against Japan. Hull told the press next day:
We have threatened no one, invaded no one, and surrounded no one. We have freely offered and now freely offer cooperation in peaceful life to all who wish it. This devotion to peace and friendly processes naturally warrants no implication of a desire to extend frontiers or assume hegemony. Our strategic line must depend primarily on the policies and courses of other nations.1