Primary Source Analysis
Japanese Fourteen- Part Message to the United States
December 7, 1941
Japan in 1942 was at the height of its expansion . Japanese political culture and ideology was driven by nationalistic pride and its aim to dominate the Asian political scenario. During this expansionistic period of Japan, idealism dominated realism. Japan wanted to be the hegemonic power in Asia. Its limited resources, mainly due to the lack of land, created a dependency on foreign trade for essential commodities. The Japanese Government wanted to be independent from economic dependence on the United States; the American Government took to use that dependence to limit Japans ambitions. The Japanese wanted to reverse the international status quo in Asia, whereas the United States wanted to preserve it . Japan wanted to be a power with a reputation matching that of the United States, but lacked the resource capacity to do so. Japan took the first step towards its goal of Imperialistic expansion by signing the Treaty of Shimonoseki;1 whereby Japan claimed Taiwan and the Liaotung Peninsula in southern Manchuria . In the 1930 Japanese military leaders believed and boasted that Japan could conquer all of Mainland China within three months . Japan then invaded Manchuria on the 18th of September 1931, blaming an explosion on the Sothern Manchurian railway on the Chinese, which the Japanese had themselves orchestrated. The Japanese army occupied major cities, and established the puppet Government of Manchukuo by installing Pu Yi the last emperor of China as its head, making Manchuria a territory of Japan . Japanese ambition of conquering China came to light in the summer of 1937, when Japan succeeded in provoking a full-scale war with China. When a Japanese soldier failed to appear for roll call near the Marco Polo Bridge in Beijing, the Japanese army ordered a search of the area. During the search the Japanese Army faced resistance from the Chinese commander in charge of the area, which led to a clash between the solders stationed there. In the following weeks the conflict intensified the Japanese Army sent reinforcements of 200,000 solders and captured Beijing and Tianjin. The Japanese slaughtered men, women and children, according to the International Military Tribunal of the Far East 260,000 noncombatants died at Nanking in late 1937 and early 1938. In 1940 Japan invaded French Indochina with an aim of curbing imports, of oil, raw materials and war supplies to China. The Japanese attempt to conquer China and to reduce western power in Southeast Asia, encouraged armed resistance and provoked economic sanctions. The United States imposed sanctions on Japan on the 26th of July 1941. The aim of this embargo was to bring Japan to its senses but instead it brought it to its knees. Due to the sanctions Japanese assets were frozen and its supply of steel and oil drastically went low. According to Miller, Japan was left with three options: first suffer economic impoverishment, second accede to America’s demands to yield it territorial conquests or third go to war with the United States and its allies . Japan chose the third option and its intention to do so was made clear to America and the world on the 7th of December 1941 when it attacked Pearl Harbor. Japanese Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura delivered the fourteen-part message to U.S. Secretary Of State Cordell Hull on December 7th, 1941 . The aim of the fourteen-part message was to defend and justify Japans actions against the United States and its attack on the Philippines, Dutch East Indies and Pearl Harbor. The Japanese decision for war was driven by Japanese pride and the threatened economic destruction by the United States. In the letter the Japanese government points out and gives several references to the Japanese governments sincerity and effort in arriving at a consensus and that due to the American Governments unwillingness to cooperate and...
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