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Japan Specialist Seminars

Specialist Seminars

World War II and Wartime Diplomacy: Focusing on the US-Japan Negotiating Process's Details
Title World War II and Wartime Diplomacy: Focusing on the US-Japan Negotiating Process
Presenter Ahn, Jae-ik (安宰熤, Doctor of Literature, University of Tokyo)
Time May 11th, 2021 (Tue) 12:30-14:00
Venue Zoom Webinar
No. 253
Discussion
Existing studies on US-Japan negotiations from April to December 1941 until the outbreak of the Pacific War after the attack on Pearl Harbor usually focuses on the failure of negotiations to cause the war. On the other hand, this presentation will look at the differences in the viewpoints of the US and Japan, that is, the regional order of post-war East Asia, which they aimed at, paying attention to the issues addressed in the negotiation process, especially the solutions to the Sino-Japanese War.
The Treaty of the Three Kingdoms Alliance signed on September 27, 1940 included that if Germany wins the war, Japan's domination of Greater East Asia is guaranteed in the process of reorganizing the international order centered on Germany. The Ilhwa Basic Treaty, signed on November 30, 1940, reflected the Japanese government's goal of maintaining political and economic influence over regions occupied by the Sino-Japanese War and exerting a certain influence over the new central government of China. Accordingly, the United States prepared for a strategy to actively respond to the Atlantic side by strengthening cooperative relations with the United Kingdom while taking a defensive stance against the Pacific region amid concerns of a two-sided war between Germany and Japan due to the Three Kingdoms Alliance.
As the US-Japan relations were deteriorating, there was a movement to improve them. On April 17, 1941, an agreement between the US and Japan was prepared and officially delivered to the Japanese government. According to the memorandum of understanding, the interpretation of the Treaty of the Three Kingdoms was made a "profit exchange" in which Japan conceded in a friendly interpretation, and the US conceded by acknowledging Japan's dominion over the regions acquired by the Sino-Japanese War. However, the US-Japan diplomatic mediation plan by Matsuoka, saying that the US cannot be trusted, appeared in May, and the US-Japan diplomatic mediation plan by experts in the Far East countries opposed the way of exchanging profits appeared in June. The relationship fell into a lull.
Japan occupied southern French Indochina in July 1941 to reduce the threat of the Soviet Union due to the outbreak of the Toxin War and to gain a bridgehead to advance to the south during the British-American War. Contrary to Japanese expectations, the United States, taking this issue seriously, implemented a substantial embargo on Japan's asset freeze and goods, including oil. Under such circumstances, the US-Japan summit was promoted again, but the Japanese government's September proposal, which returned to the exchange of profits, faced opposition from experts in the Far East and the Secretary of State at the US State Department, and the summit was not successful.
After that, Japan finally presented the Gap-an and Eul-an, and the US President Roosevelt also devised a provisional agreement plan to avoid armed conflict. The provisional agreement was abolished, with the UK and China also opposing it. Later, a general agreement was proposed, but Japan, which could not accept it, decided to open the war.
Looking at the above process of negotiations between the US and Japan, in the dialogue between the US and Japan governments that began with the establishment of the US-Japan ocean coast in 1941, the seemingly key issue can be seen as the resolution of the Sino-Japanese problem. Japan sought to maintain its influence even after the war was ended through the continued presence of Japanese troops in China and the use of puppet government personnel, and secured a dominant position in Southeast Asia through the Treaty of the Three Nations Alliance. On the other hand, the US saw that the US could maximize its influence in the Western Pacific region by establishing a new Pacific order in which all countries that could affect the Pacific region participated equally after the end of the war. In other words, the two countries had different goals for the newly established East Asian regional order after the end of the war, and the most obvious difference was the solution to the Sino-Japanese War problem. It can be concluded that the sharp confrontation that emerged in the course of dialogue between the United States and Japan after 1941 can be interpreted as a confrontation of order in the East Asian region of the United States and Japan.
After the presentation was over, questions and answers followed. The question is as follows. Was Japan's advancement to the south, including French Indochina, as an alternative to advancement to the north, or was it conceived to advance to the south? How exactly is the relationship between the oil embargo and the invasion of the southern French Indochina Peninsula? The seminar ended after discussions on what was the basis of Japan's equal attitude in the process of negotiations with the United States and whether the United States' nuclear power was not considered in Japan's offensive transformation.
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