Paths to War pp 383-407 | Cite as

The Japanese Decision to Move South(1939–1941)

  • Sumio Hatano
  • Sadao Asada


This paper attempts to re-examine, mainly on the basis of unpublished military sources,l Japan’s decision to move into South-East Asia, which became a crucial turning point on Japan’s road to war with the United States, Britain and the Netherlands.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 2.
    James William Morley (ed.), The Fateful Choice: Japan’s Advance into Southeast Asia, 1939–1941 (New York, 1980). This volume is a selective translation of Nihon Kokusai Seiji Gakkai ([The Japan Association of International Relations] (ed.), Taiheiyō sensō no michi: kaisen gaikō shi (The road to the Pacific War: A diplomatic history of the origins of the war (Tokyo, 1963), vols. 6 and 7. (Hereafter abbreviated as TSM.) To this date, this work remains the most detailed and authoritative study of the subject.Google Scholar
  2. In addition, see Akira Iriye, ‘The Failure of Military Expansionism’ in James W. Morley (ed.), Dilemmas of Growth in Prewar Japan (Princeton, 1971), pp. 107–38. This article presents a lucid analysis of the gaps between Japanese leaders’ perception and international realities. The most recent monograph is Murakami Sachiko’s Ph.D. dissertation, ‘Japan’s Thrust into French-Indochina, 1940–1945, submitted to City University of New York. (It was privately published in Japanese translation as Futu-In shinchū in 1984.) It makes extensive use of hitherto unused French materials.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sadao Asada, ‘The Japanese Navy and the United States’, in Dorothy Borg and Shumpei Okamoto (eds.), Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations, 1931–1941 (New York, 1973), p. 235. Hereafter cited as Asada, ‘The Japanese Navy’.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For details, see Hatano Sumio, ‘Nihon kaigun to “nanshin”’ (The Japanese navy and southward advance’, in Shimizu Hajime (ed.), Ryō taisenkan ki Nihon-Tōnan Ajia kankei no shosō (Aspects of relations between Japan and South-East Asia in the inter-war period). (Tokyo, 1986), pp. 217–20. Ōkubo Tatsumasa et al (eds.), Shōwa shakai keizai shiryō shūsei, Kaigunshō shiryō (Collection of materials relating to the social and economic history of the Shōwa period: Documents of the Navy Minstry) (Tokyo, Tōyō kenkyūjo), vol. 2 (1978), 282–305, 343; vol. 3 (1978), pp. (1)–(3). (Hereafter cited as Ōkubo, Kaigunshō shiryö.)Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    For these peace manoeuvres, see John Hunter Boyle, China and Japan at War, 1937–1945: The Politics of Collaboration (Stanford, 1972), passim.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    For details on the relationship between the Kiri Project and the decision to move south, see Hatano Sumio, ‘Nanshin e no senkai, 1940’ (Switching to a policy of advancing south, 1940), Ajia keizai, IIVI, no. 5 (May 1985). pp. 30–33.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Morimatsu Toshio (ed.), Sanbō jichō Sawada Shigeru kaisōroku (Recollections of Vice-Chief of the Army General Staff Sawada Shigeru (Tokyo, 1982), pp. 172–73.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    On 11 November 1940 the British steamer Automedon was intercepted by the German raider Atlantis off the Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean. Among the 60 packages of mail seized was a copy of the War Cabinet minutes for 8 August 1940, including the highly secret chiefs of staff report, which was being sent to the commander-in-chief Far East, Robert Brooke-Popham. After having sunk the Automedon, the Atlantis reached Kobe on 4 December. James Rusbridger, ‘The Sinking of the “Automedon”, the Capture of “Nankin”’, Encounter LIV (May 1985) p. 10.Google Scholar
  9. For the background of the War Cabinet minutes, see Peter Lowe, Great Britain and the Origins of the Pacific War: A Study of British Policy in East Asia 1937–1941 (Oxford, 1977), pp. 160–65.Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    John W.M. Chapman, edited and translated, The Price of Admiralty: The War Diary of the German Naval Attaché in Japan, 1939–1943, vols. II & III (East Sussex, 1984), pp. 333–34.Google Scholar
  11. 23.
    The first Japanese scholar to write on the ‘Automedon affair’ and its impact on Japan’s southern policy is Ikeda Kiyoshi, ‘Aru jōhōsen: Wennekā senji nisshi o yonde’ (An episode in intelligence warfare: On the wartime journal of Paul Wennecker), Nihon Bunka Kaigi (ed.), Bunka kaigi (March 1986) pp. 14–19.Google Scholar
  12. Sanbō Honbu (ed.), Sugiyama memo, (Tokyo, 1967), vol. 1, p. 157.Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    Morley (ed.), Fateful Choice, pp. 227–32; Arthur J. Marder, Old Friends, New Enemies: The Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1936–1941 (Oxford, 1981), pp. 156–57.Google Scholar
  14. 29.
    The English translation is printed in Morley (ed.), Fateful Choice, pp. 303–304. For a good analysis, see James Crowley, ‘Japan’s Military Foreign Policies’, in James W. Morley (ed.), Japan’s Foreign Policy, 1868–1941: A Research Guide (New York, 1974), pp. 91–93.Google Scholar
  15. 31.
    Robert J.C. Butow, The John Doe Associates: Backdoor Diplomacy for Peace, 1941 (Stanford, 1974).Google Scholar
  16. 33.
    The best treatment of the way in which Matsuoka’s attitude toward the United States was shaped by his personal experiences in Oregon is Hosoya Chihiro, ‘Matsuoka Yōsuke’, in Hayashi Shigeru (ed.), Jinbutsu Nihon no rekishi (Japanese history through personalities), vol. 14 (Tokyo, 1966), pp. 176–211;Google Scholar
  17. see also Hosoya, ‘The Tripartite Pact’, in James W. Morley (ed.), Deterrent Diplomacy: Japan, Germany, and the USSR, 1935–1940 (New York, 1976), pp. 191–257, passim.Google Scholar
  18. 40.
    Nobutaka Ike (translated, edited, with an introduction), Japan’s Decision for War: Records of the 1941 Policy Conferences (Stanford, 1967), pp. 77–90.Google Scholar
  19. 41.
    ‘Documents Relating to the Outbreak of War with Japan’, p. 46, Foreign Office Archives, Public Record Office; Peter Lowe, Great Britain and the Origins of the Pacific War: A Study of British Policy in East Asia 1937–1941 (Oxford, 1971), pp. 236–40;Google Scholar
  20. Lowe, ‘Great Britain and the Coming of the Pacific War’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th Series, vol. 24, 1974, p. 57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 42.
    From the Burma Road Crisis to Pearl Harbor’, memorandum by the Far Eastern Department, FO 371/35957, F 26–21 S21/G, p. 46, PRO. A recent study reveals that President Roosevelt had not intended the freeze to result in a total embargo, because he was aware that it might compel Japan to attack the Dutch East Indies or even United States territories. It was the ‘hawks’ in the foreign policy bureaucracy who converted a rather limited measure into an all-out oil embargo. Jonathan G. Utley, Going to War with Japan (Knoxville, Tennessee, 1985) pp. 151–56.Google Scholar
  22. See also: Irvine H. Anderson, Jr., The Standard-Vacuum Oil Company and United States East Asian Policy, 1933–1941 (Princeton, 1975), pp. 158–200.Google Scholar
  23. 49.
    Theodore A. Wilson, The First Summit: Roosevelt and Churchill at Placentia Bay, 1941 (Boston, 1969).Google Scholar
  24. 50.
    Hosoya Chihiro, et al. (eds.), Nichi-Bei kankeishi: Kaisen ni itaru 10-nen (1931–41) (Japanese-American relations: Ten years prior to the war, 1931–41) (Tokyo, 1971), vol. 1, pp. 298–99.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sumio Hanato and Sadao Asada 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sumio Hatano
  • Sadao Asada

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations