Japan in World War II

Using these four passages and your own knowledge, asses the view that Japan was driven into war with the western powers in 1941 by American policies. Both interpretations B and D prove that America was the only driving force that caused a war in the Pacific. The oil embargo that America enforced in 1940 was an incentive for Japan, a country very reliant on imports of which most primarily came from America feeding its daily usage of 12,000 tons of oil,to declare war on the country that was slowing its progress to conquer China.
Interpretation B states that “moderates and militants alike saw American pressure as provocative” thus creating a tension in the Pacific, with the American foreign policy at the forefront of the Japanese aggression, this would leave Japan with no choice but to declare war. Japan’s reluctance to enter a war with America is also shown in this interpretation where numerous times they extended a deadline to lift the oil embargo “by 15thOctober. The date was later extended to 25thNovember and then to 30thNovember.
”Japan would have to fight America if the “life strangling embargo” was not lifted as it was their only choice out of a possible two the other was “pulling out of China and no Japanese leader counselled the latter. ”This proves that without America’s strict oil embargo than a war in the Pacific may never have occurred. However America would never have left China to the aggressive advances of Japan. On the other hand interpretation B disagrees and displays Japan as irrational and links with interpretation A in seeing Japan as “naive and unthinking”.

This is presented by the comment made by the Japanese general in interpretation B which reads “sometimes a man has to jump with his eyes closed from the veranda of aKiyomizu temple. ” The remark confirms the argument that Japan’s leaders were unthinking and made decisions without knowing the consequences for example the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. Overall this interpretation sees US pressure as a significant cause for aggression; Japan was being starved of its essential oil that it used to fuel its conquests.
However American concern for the safety of Asia would ultimately lead to a war in the Pacific and Japanese hostility was solely to blame. Interpretation D also shows Japan’s aggression being sparked by American decisions. For example “America, most of all, stood in the way stood in the way of this through their control of resources in South East Asia. ” America’s grip on all vital resources in the Pacific would have driven Japan to war as it was the only alternative to stop America whilst still keeping control over China.
The leading philosophies of the time, “assumed that acquiring an empire provided the basis of prosperity and future national security. ” This on the other hand contradicts the interpretation as it presents Japan as an empire with clear instructions on how to achieve wealth through imperialism. This is shown throughout the passage where “by the time the war in China began in 1937 politicians favouring expansionism were in high offices of state. ” America is no longer the only reason that war began as the views of the leaders in 1937 were evidently expansionist.
Japan does not want any relations with America as “in the eyes of Japan’s leaders that would have entailed a colossal loss of prestige with incalculable internal consequences. ” Japan and the US both operated with an imperialist mindset, but Japan government had mishandled the position they found themselves in Overall this proves that Japan had their own aims and expansionist policies and America “stood in the way” of Japan and war would have been inevitable between to very imperialist countries that both sort out an empire.
To summarise this interpretation although it shows that America holds back Japan through its strict rationing of resources in the South East Asia, Japan’s leaders had their particular policies which involved expansion and so American decisions would not have changed the inevitable outcome of war. However the reliability of the interpretation is undependable as the argument against the leaders “fateful choices” were the decisions of “mentalists” and no such evidence and or facts were used to justify the historians view and Japan’s actions as to why they made the decision to advance south in 1940.
Interpretations A and C both make arguments that it wasn’t America’s foreign policy’s causing war. Interpretation A makes the dispute that “nothing could have prevented a Japanese-American war after Japan’s takeover of French Indochina in July 1941”, America had a reason to be worried about the future of the Pacific as before July 1941 “lay the shadow of Japanese aggression in China” again the Japanese aggression and expansionist policies linked with interpretation D is evidence that it was Japan’s policies not America’s that were driving them closer that would eventually lead to war.
Japan had no real plan as to how they would fight off the “Menace”. Again this speculates that Japanese aggression was not thought through and they were “blinded by easy victories”. This meant that Japanese violence had no end in what the thought they could accomplish leading them to start a war they could not win. However the interpretation perceives that America knew that “Japanese aggression could only be strangled by stopping the flow of essential war materials”, and with this knowledge this American Policy they could stop Japan.
This would lead Japan to a war as America was holding back there essential resources that the required to survive the war with China. However the interpretation does not state whether they imposed the embargo. The U. S. government froze all Japanese assets in America and launched an oil embargo after July 1941, to protest Japan’s aggression in China and Indochina. Trade was terminated with Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941.
Interpretation C is also against as it evidently shows that Russian policy was a cause of war. Japan was having difficulty keeping Russia out of Manchuria and there were several disputes along the Soviet – Manchukuo border. The major conflicts included “the Tauran incident in March 1936; the Kanch’atzu incident June-July 1937, the Amurincident June-July 1937, the Changkufeng incident July-August 1938; and the Nomoham incident May-September 1939. ” Japan was rightfully worried about the Russian borders and so therefore not America.
In total the Imperial Japanese Army recorded a total of 152 minor incidents on the border of Manchuria between 1932 and 1934. That number then increased to over 150 per year for the next two years and the scale of the incidents became larger. The Japanese would later sign the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality pact on April 13th 1941. The amount of defeats that Japan endured along the Soviet – Manchukuo border would have Japan’s highest concern and not America over the Pacific.
This is also shown when Japan released a new foreign policy concerning the progressive development of Manchukuo. The document stated that “thwarting the USSR’s aggressive intentions, therefore had become the most crucial element in our diplomacy” thus proving America Policies were not the only, and Japan was concerned about aggression from the eastern powers. Japan’s wariness about Russia also lead it the Japanese-German pact the building block for the Anti-Comintern pact; this and not America would lead to war.
Western anxiety about the Tripartite Pact, which was signed by the three leading Axis in 1941, is also shown in this interpretation as an argument against the American involvement as this displays a growing concern from Britain, the Soviet union and America. Conclusion The overwhelming majority of the interpretations are against the interpretation that America’s policies where the cause of War 1941; the mention of other European powers that took the attention of Japan away from America. The Manchukuo border was Japan’s top priority as it guarded there empire whereas the Pacific was between them and America.
It wasn’t just other countries power and aggression that sparked the war Japan too had plans for a large empire in China to ensure there prosperity. Interpretations A, B and D are linked and show Japan as a key factor in the beginning of a war as there aggressive expansion led to their inevitable involvement in World War II. It was the “naive and unthinking” choices made by the leaders of Japan in the 1940’s to attempt the invasion of America. Almost all interpretations argue against the statement that it was American policy driving Japan to war.
However interpretation B proves that America’s oil embargo was threatening Japan’s vital oil supply and in interpretation A the American Public and Press establishes that to “continue supplying such materials to an aggressor was an abet to aggression. To conclude the argument that the majority of interpretations are against however the fact that Japan’s attention was drawn to the Manchukuo border cannot be forgotten as that used around 80,000 men of which they lost about 29,000 of them and shows that the policies of the Allies were pressuring Japan.

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