The German-Japanese alliance during World War II was made official in September of 1940, a full year after the start of the war in Europe. However, the German Japan relationship dates back to 1936, when Hitler sent Joachim von Ribbentrop to sign the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan. The Anti-Comintern Pact was an agreement between Germany and Japan to thwart the spread of communism. This was the beginning of the Axis alliance, and Italy joined in late 1936. In case of an attack by the Soviet Union against Germany or Japan, these two countries would back each other. Germany ensures that it would have an ally in event of a Soviet attack, and Japan had Germany recognize its puppet regime in Manchuria. Hitler broke the terms of this pact in 1939 when he signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Soviet Union. At this point, Hitler was planning the invasion of Poland and wanted to ensure he would have to fight a two front war. By 1940, Hitler's glare had reached the Soviet Union again and his hatred for communism began to boil. He informed the Soviet Union that he will be joining the alliance with Japan and Italy, but was non- aggression towards the Soviet Union. (Fuller, pg. 201)
The three power pact was signed by Germany, Italy and Japan on September 27, 1940. The pact basically states that these three countries will work together to establish and maintain a new order of things to promote the mutual prosperity of its people. The pact included six articles, the first two states that Japan will respect the leadership of Germany and Italy in Europe, and Germany and Italy will respect Japan's control in East Asia. The sixth article also states that the pact will be in place for 10 years, at which time the parties could work towards a renewal.
This pact benefited both the Germans and the Japanese. Ever since the late 19th century, Japan has been trying to gain territory at the expanse of Russia and China on mainland Asia. It succeeded in gaining influence without ever defeating those two countries and in 1941, tried to do the same in East Asia. Japan's plan was first disarming the US pacific fleet before moving southward and eastward to occupy Malaya, the Netherlands Indies, the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, the Gilbert Islands, Thailand, and Burma. (Fuller, pg. 235) By occupying these strategic areas, Japan would hope it could create a defensive perimeter that the Allies would not be able to penetrate. This in itself was a strategic mistake as they grossly under estimated the resolve of the Americans. By 1942, the Japanese had established their intended perimeter and was remarkably successful in their military endeavors. However, their attack did not limit the US navy as they had hoped, and had not disheartened the American people. The Allies did not sought peace with the Japanese, but instead fought on a united front. The US created a line of communication from the Pacific to Australia, and bombers from the continent down-under harassed the Japanese base at Rabaul. Once the Allies were able to attack the Japanese perimeter from all sides, Japan could not perform enough means to defend and sustain all the key positions. The key turning point in the Pacific came at the battle of Midway, north of Hawaii. Perceiving that their position in the Pacific was threatened, the Japanese tried to extend their perimeter once again in the spring of 1942 and cut off the Allies south Pacific communication line. However, they were defeated by the US at the battle of Midway and lost a bulk of their best navel pilots and planes. After this point, Japan was never on the offensive again in terms of expanding their control, but concentrated on strengthening their perimeter defense. (Fuller, pg. 256)
Japanese involvement on mainland Asia began with the Sino-Japanese War. The small scale conflict began in July of 1937 but was made into a full scale war by the atrocious actions of the Kwantung army (the Japanese armed...
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