North Pacific Fronts

May 28, 1942

Report Outline
North Pacific Fronts
Alaska in Strategy of the North Pacific
Rivalry of Russia and Japan in East Asia
Special Focus

North Pacific Fronts

While appeals have been going up in the United Nations for opening of a second front in Europe, military observers have not overlooked the possibility that Japan may open a second front in the Far East. Reports have recently been circulated that Hitler has been urging Tokyo to attack the Soviet Union in Siberia. Whether or not such pressure has been applied, a clash between Japan and Russia, sooner or later, is regarded as inevitable. The threat which Japan has long seen in Russia's presence on the Pacific would be the greater if the Soviet armies were victorious in the west and Tokyo still had not overcome the resistance of American, British, and Chinese forces in the Far East. At the same time, there is no reason to believe that Japan would welcome Germany, in place of Russia, as a close neighbor. It is probable, therefore, that Japan would not wait for Germany to defeat Russia and open the way to extension of Nazi influence across Siberia before attempting to grab for herself the Far Eastern territory of the Soviet Union.

American War Position and a Soviet-Japanese Clash

It has been asserted that Japan would never have launched her drive into the Southwest Pacific last December without assurance that Russia, occupied in Europe, would not attack from the north. It is now thought not unlikely that Tokyo, encountering strong resistance to execution of plans for invasion of Australia, may temporarily abandon that project and undertake to remove the Russian threat by a surprise attack in Siberia. It has been suggested also that such a North Pacific offensive might include an attempt to seize Alaska as a base for raids upon western Canada and the Pacific coast of the United States.

Outbreak of war between Russia and Japan would end the present anomalous position of the Soviet Union, which is allied with Great Britain, the United States, and other members of the United Nations group as an enemy of Germany but remains neutral toward the conflict of the United Nations with the Reich's Axis partner in the Far East. Acceptance by Russia of the status of a belligerent towards Japan might have a practical advantage for the United States in making available bases within relatively short bombing range of Japan's principal industrial cities. American planes could then be moved from Alaska by way of the Aleutian Islands to Russia's Kamchatka base of Petropavlovsk and to Vladivostok, providing Japan did not succeed in seizing-those strongholds. The fact that an attack upon Russia would simultaneously open this northern pathway for direction of American air power against Japan may operate as a restraining factor at Tokyo. On the other hand, Japan herself has facilities for waging war in the North Pacific. Her naval and air base at Paramushiro in the Kurile Islands is only 235 miles south of Petropavlovsk and less than 1,000 miles west of United States outposts in the Aleutians.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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May 07, 1942  Invasion of Europe
Apr. 06, 1942  Governments in Exile
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