Discussion:
If Japan hadn't occupied south Indochina in '41, would US have embargoed oil anyway by end of '41?
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Rob
2017-05-23 00:49:02 UTC
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The Japanese occupation of southern Indochina in July 1941 was the last straw eliminating any restraint in US economic pressure on Japan. After that move, the U.S. froze all Japanese assets in the U.S. and effectively implemented a complete oil embargo on that country.

The U.S. found the Japanese move provocative for a couple reasons. Most basically, the U.S. was seeking to curb and reverse Japanese expansion with lesser economic pressures, and when it did not work, total economic embargo was the only card left to play, and the U.S. was certainly unwilling to let a Japanese move on this scale go without a response.

Secondly, occupation of northern Indochina could be "justified" as a measure to gain an advantage in the China War, the Tripartite Pact could be "justified" as a measure to deter the U.S. from going to war over China rather than a measure preparatory toward wider aggression. However, southern Indochina added hardly anything to the Japanese war effort in China, rather it was most useful for further advances in the direction of Thailand, Malaya, and the DEI, and it broadened the threat to the Philippines. Therefore, to American strategists, it signaled a Japanese commitment or trajectory towards further aggression outside of China.

So, say the Japanese stand pat in northern Indochina and keep fighting in China, but they do not got south of Tonkin at all during 1941.

Assume “all else being equal” vis-à-vis Europe, rest of Asia, etc.

Would the U.S. still be letting the Japanese spend their assets in America and be letting the Japanese purchase American oil on New Years Day, 1942?

On the one hand, this should have been strategically tolerable to the U.S. because it demonstrates that previous measures had probably succeeded in arresting Japanese aggression towards the British Empire or USA. So why mess with it, or push the Japanese into a corner, when the U.S. would only be getting stronger vis-a-vis Japan during 1942, 1943 and 1944? Especially when the main American focus is against Germany, and there are hopes of making the Tripartite Pact a dead letter.

On the other hand, might other motives have made the U.S. go for the total embargo option anyway at some point between July and December 1941? For example, simply running out of patience with Japan's ongoing war with China, and an increased American consensus to show solidarity with China or boost China's morale? Or, perhaps restraint in the south by Japan could be read as Japanese intent to prepare for an assault on the Soviet Union, in cooperation with the Nazi invasion? If the Americans took this interpretation it would be logical to want to use any available economic levers to hobble such a Japanese initiative, because the Soviets surviving was seen as crucial to the chances of containing and defeating Hitler.

Poll question: No further southern expansion from June '41 on, embargo anyway by Jan '42?

a) Yes

b) No

Your votes?

Your thoughts?
Dimensional Traveler
2017-05-23 03:04:58 UTC
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Post by Rob
The Japanese occupation of southern Indochina in July 1941 was the last straw eliminating any restraint in US economic pressure on Japan. After that move, the U.S. froze all Japanese assets in the U.S. and effectively implemented a complete oil embargo on that country.
The U.S. found the Japanese move provocative for a couple reasons. Most basically, the U.S. was seeking to curb and reverse Japanese expansion with lesser economic pressures, and when it did not work, total economic embargo was the only card left to play, and the U.S. was certainly unwilling to let a Japanese move on this scale go without a response.
Secondly, occupation of northern Indochina could be "justified" as a measure to gain an advantage in the China War, the Tripartite Pact could be "justified" as a measure to deter the U.S. from going to war over China rather than a measure preparatory toward wider aggression. However, southern Indochina added hardly anything to the Japanese war effort in China, rather it was most useful for further advances in the direction of Thailand, Malaya, and the DEI, and it broadened the threat to the Philippines. Therefore, to American strategists, it signaled a Japanese commitment or trajectory towards further aggression outside of China.
So, say the Japanese stand pat in northern Indochina and keep fighting in China, but they do not got south of Tonkin at all during 1941.
Assume “all else being equal” vis-à-vis Europe, rest of Asia, etc.
Would the U.S. still be letting the Japanese spend their assets in America and be letting the Japanese purchase American oil on New Years Day, 1942?
On the one hand, this should have been strategically tolerable to the U.S. because it demonstrates that previous measures had probably succeeded in arresting Japanese aggression towards the British Empire or USA. So why mess with it, or push the Japanese into a corner, when the U.S. would only be getting stronger vis-a-vis Japan during 1942, 1943 and 1944? Especially when the main American focus is against Germany, and there are hopes of making the Tripartite Pact a dead letter.
On the other hand, might other motives have made the U.S. go for the total embargo option anyway at some point between July and December 1941? For example, simply running out of patience with Japan's ongoing war with China, and an increased American consensus to show solidarity with China or boost China's morale? Or, perhaps restraint in the south by Japan could be read as Japanese intent to prepare for an assault on the Soviet Union, in cooperation with the Nazi invasion? If the Americans took this interpretation it would be logical to want to use any available economic levers to hobble such a Japanese initiative, because the Soviets surviving was seen as crucial to the chances of containing and defeating Hitler.
Poll question: No further southern expansion from June '41 on, embargo anyway by Jan '42?
a) Yes
b) No
Your votes?
Your thoughts?
My first thought is when did Japan make the decision to go with the
Southern Strategy rather than the Northern? I.E. had they already made
the decision to go for the DEI because of the already existing economic
measure _before_ they occupied southern Indochina or not? If they had,
then I think it would take a "large" POD to change their minds.

Related thought, how likely do people think it was that the West could
stop Japan's Imperial Expansion without using military force? As I
recall a lot of Japan's desire to build an empire was in direct response
to European empire building, vis a vi jealousy and reaction to
European/American racism against Orientals.
--
"That's my secret, Captain: I'm always angry."
Les
2017-05-24 02:09:57 UTC
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On Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 12:04:59 AM UTC-3, Dimensional Traveler wrote:

(stuff deleted)
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Related thought, how likely do people think it was that the West could
stop Japan's Imperial Expansion without using military force?
There were voices inside Japan criticizing the "Manchuria Incident," particularly those who believed the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" concept. Given the disparity of forces in the region, the US believed pursuing a slim hope of avoiding war against Japan was preferable to going to war long before it was ready to do anything than offer a series of losing battles.
Post by Dimensional Traveler
As I
recall a lot of Japan's desire to build an empire was in direct response
to European empire building, vis a vi jealousy and reaction to
European/American racism against Orientals.
(rest of post deleted)

Essentially, Japan felt that they were the natural leaders destined to lead Asia, being unbeaten by any Western Powers (evidently the 1939 incident with the USSR didn't count). While most Asian nations held the viewpoint of forming an Asian alliance against the West, they had differing viewpoints of which Asians were going to lead the way.
Rob
2017-06-08 00:31:31 UTC
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snip material from OP
My first thought is when did Japan make the decision to go with the
Southern Strategy rather than the Northern? I.E. had they already made
the decision to go for the DEI because of the already existing economic
measure _before_ they occupied southern Indochina or not?
....they made no definite or irreversible decision until after the embargo.

They were considering it as a potentially near term program since the occupation of the Low Countries and France.


If they had,
then I think it would take a "large" POD to change their minds.
Related thought, how likely do people think it was that the West could
stop Japan's Imperial Expansion without using military force?
I wonder. I tend to think so. I am going to post a separate poll/thread on.



As I
recall a lot of Japan's desire to build an empire was in direct response
to European empire building, vis a vi jealousy and reaction to
European/American racism against Orientals.
--
"That's my secret, Captain: I'm always angry."
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