Anglo-American Cooperation in Asia

November 16, 1940

Report Outline
Axis Tokyo Pact and Anglo-American Policy
Anglo-American Economic Interests in Asia
Problems of Joint Defense in Far East
Special Focus

Axis Tokyo Pact and Anglo-American Policy

Conclusion, September 27, of a tripartite military alliance between Germany, Italy, and Japan, aimed unmistakably at the United States, gave the American people a sudden and dramatic demonstration of the inter-relation of the European and Asiatic wars and of the possibility of this country's becoming involved in hostilities simultaneously in the Atlantic and the Pacific. From the standpoint of American defense, viewed in the light of such a possibility, China's resistance to Japan was raised to a position rivaling in importance that of Great Britain's resistance to Germany. Aid to China fell into the same category as aid to Britain.

In the months before the pact was signed, Great Britain had been following a cautious policy in the Orient, seeking to appease Japan by withdrawing British troops from China and by agreeing to close the Burma Road to Chinese munitions traffic for three months. While the United States in this period had made several moves obviously directed against Japan, they had been mostly of a minor nature calculated only to counteract British and French yielding to Japanese pressure. Conclusion of the Axis-Japanese alliance had the immediate effect of unifying and strengthening American and British policy in the Far East.

British and American Measures to Restrain Japan

A stiffening of the United States position was evidenced, in fact, even before the signing of the pact. Two days prior to that event, but just after conclusion of a Franco-Japanese pact granting concessions to Japan in Indo-China, Washington announced extension of a new $25,000,000 loan to China. This action was followed the next day, 24 hours ahead of the signing of the pact, by announcement of the forthcoming imposition of an embargo on exports of iron and steel scrap to countries outside the Western Hemisphere, except Great Britain. On October 8 the British government made known that the Burma Road would be reopened October 17. Against the background of these moves, the gravity of the situation in the Far East received additional emphasis when the United States warned American citizens to leave China and Japan, and when Great Britain gave similar warning to British subjects in Japan and Japanese-occupied areas of China.

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