Us Japanese Relations Before Pearl Harbor

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Life, like war, compares to the game of chess. There are two sides, and they take turn moving their pieces in play. There is always a strategy for the final goal, victory, or the game could end in a stalemate. An endless possibility of moves exists for each player, keeping in mind the possible future actions of the opponent. This makes the game complex and difficult because each player does not know the intent, or exact move of the opponent. Each player must rely on instinct and judgment of their opponent to estimate the next action of the opponent. One must also account for the losses of pieces and the sacrifices needed in order to achieve victory. A game of chess between the United States and Japan started in July 1937 and ended in December 1941. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Navy attacked the United States airbase at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This came as a surprise to the American government that had previously had a series of extensive peace talks with Japanese diplomats. Many have asked why the Japanese went to war against the United States and why the United States government “provoked” the attack. Diplomats from each government tried to attain peace, after a string of Japanese aggressions in China during July 1937. Among other policy makers, principally three Americans lead the peace talks, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Secretary of the State Cordell Hull, and Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew. Peace talks transpired between Washington and Tokyo throughout the four years. The inability to compromise on peace agreements and the implementations of economic embargoes culminated in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. To comprehend how and why the two countries went to war, one must start in 1937 when the Japanese Army invaded China and to closely look at the US-Japanese/ Sino-Japanese relations thereafter. In July 1937, by seizing the Marco Polo Bridge near Peiping, Japan sparked a large-scale invasion of China. Joseph Grew tried to influence an upholding of peace between Japan and China.1 In the same month, Japanese Ambassador Saito and the Counselor of the Chinese Embassy talked with Secretary of State Cordell Hull in Washington to ensure that further hostilities between Japan and China would not happen.2 The American embassy in Tokyo sent the opinion of President Roosevelt to Japanese officials, asking for a ceasing of militant actions against China. Neither Japan nor China legally declared war on each other; nonetheless, the Japanese would not cease their aggressive actions causing further diplomatic struggles with the American Government. On October 5, 1937 President Roosevelt gave his “quarantine” speech in Chicago. Roosevelt observed a developing lawless world, and saw other aggressive nations seriously threatening the peace loving countries like the United States. Roosevelt expressed that America does not want war, that America hates war, and wishes to retain peace. He declared that the epidemic of world lawlessness has spread. When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of disease.3 President Roosevelt did not specifically mention Japan, but implied the aggressive behaviors of Italy in Ethiopia, Germany in Spain, and Japan in China. On December 12 of the same year, Japanese aircraft bombed the U.S.S. Panay. The diplomatic events that followed furthered the idea of peace, but resulted in economic embargos. The incident occurred twenty miles up the Yangtze River from Nanking, China, the bombs sank the American gunboat while also destroying three Standard Oil Company tankers. The Japanese pilots had clearly seen the American flags on the vessels, but did not wait for orders. Then the pilots claimed to think that the Americans were aiding Chinese military forces and transporting weapons for the Chinese.4 Although this incident...
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