Joseph Hansen

American-Japanese War
Preparations Hastened

Rival Imperialists Hold ‘Peace’ Talks
as They Rush Plans for War in the Pacific

(6 December 1941)

Source: From The Militant, Vol. V No. 49, 6 December 1941, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2019 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2019. This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

The hasty return of President Roosevelt to Washington from Warm Springs, Ga., indicates that the Kurusu diplomatic episode is nearing its end even sooner than the State Department had anticipated. The economic blockade of Japan which Roosevelt organized in accordance with Wall Street’s plan to hasten United States entry into World War II has now burned like a fuse to the very lip of the powder keg in the Far East.

Both the American and Japanese General Staffs understood perfectly how slight were the chances that Saburo Kurusu could wangle an armed truce. The basic antagonism between Japanese and American imperialism in the Far East has been aggravated to the degree where diplomacy requires the bayonet to point its demands.

While Kurusu and Hull explored “peace” possibilities in the marble halls of the State Department, the American marines leaving China to avoid becoming hostages of Japan were given a hurry-up order. The gunboats Luzon and Oahu stepped up their departure to Saturday instead of Monday and the President Harrison left on Friday morning instead of the scheduled Sunday.

At Singapore all leaves for officers and soldiers of the British garrison were suddenly cancelled and the entire garrison altered. While reinforcements continued to arrive from other British colonies and possessions, volunteers were called up and several thousand militia men who have been under intensive training were mobilized. On Dec. 1, Governor Sir Shenton Thomas signed a proclamation declaring that a “state of emergency” existed in the entire Straits Settlement, including Singapore.

The United States naval base at Cavite, Philippine Islands, was blacked out as a “precautionary measure.” At Hawaii U.S. army and navy forces were placed on a basis of continuous “alert” and a special order was issued requiring small fishing craft — largely Japanese owned — to obtain special licenses. U.S. consular officials at Shanghai warned Americans again to leave occupied China and both the British and Dutch began clearing the port of their ships.

In Australia, Prime Minister John Curtin summoned an emergency meeting of the War Cabinet to discuss developments in the Far East. Sidney was described officially as “now a war station.”

At Hongkong British troops were held in “an advanced state of preparedness” following a three day test of defenses. All leaves were cancelled and navy men were ordered to stand by.

From Batavia came the report that the Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force was ordered mobilized. The Dutch Java-China-Japan Shipping Line announced suspension of its services to Shanghai and Japan thus cutting off direct sea communication.

Thailand sent a “military representative” to Singapore to confer with the British Far Eastern High Command.

Areas Already Mined

Dispatches to the Navy Department in Washington disclosed that the sea around Vladivostok has been proclaimed a prohibited area by the Soviet government. This was understood to mean that the area has been mined.

The Japanese government has revealed that the approaches to Yokohama, Kobe, and other ports were mined. Virtually all the Japanese in Hongkong left on Dec 2 via steamer for Canton. The liner Fuji Maru sailed from the Netherlands East Indies with more than 1,000 Japanese subjects for the homeland. The Tokyo newspaper Asahi asserted that the closing of Japanese consulates in the United States was imminent. A heavy flow of Japanese troops and materials into Southern Indo-China was reported, with British armies in Malaya massing for action in the event of Japanese invasion of Thailand. For the first time in seven months Japanese planes bombed the Burma road. Manila reported that a Japanese fleet headed by 16 cruisers and some aircraft carriers was near British and Dutch Borneo.

“Peaceful Intentions”

For domestic consumption in Japan, Kurusu insisted on the peaceful intentions of the imperialist Japanese government. For domestic consumption in the United States, Hull insisted on the peaceful intentions of the imperialist Roosevelt government. What was actually discussed behind the closed curtains of secret diplomacy can only be surmised. It was permitted to “leak out” to the American press that Kurusu was insisting on the policy of Japanese expansion whereas Hull was insisting on Wall Street domination of the rich natural resources of the Far East.

The Chinese representative was “unfortunately” late at the first conference of the Allied powers in Washington because of “illness.” In the opening stage of World War II, it will be recalled the British imperialists closed the Burma road for some months and turned over a huge sum of Chinese funds to Japan in the hope of reaching a deal with the Japanese imperialists.

We may surmise that the Chinese government feared Kurusu had brought a proposal for “peace” at the expense of China. Kurusu quite conceivably proposed a deal that would have divided the Far East including Siberia between Wall Street and the Japanese imperialists.

As demonstrated by the military moves of the past period, the economic blockade also seems to have forced Japan into moving southward for the time being, directly across Anglo-American imperialist interests. Her relatively small reserves in face of the enormous requirements of a major war have riveted her eyes on the fabulous wealth of the East Indies. Here is oil enough for her military machine, here already developed are all the natural resources she requires for her industry. On top of this there is the prospect of easy plunder and loot, not to speak of the large stores of food supplies that could be shipped immediately to Japan to quiet the unrest at home.

Against this in the event of “Northward expansion,” she must measure the notoriously severe Siberian winter weather, the fact that a Red Army comparable in strength to her own available forces is entrenched there. The resources of Siberia are largely undeveloped, especially oil. On top of this is the calculation that Stalin will eventually be forced to withdraw the Red Army forces from Siberia to strengthen the European front. By waiting longer, Japan hopes to seize Siberia at a much lower price than would be possible at the present time.

Whichever direction of expansion Japan takes, however, one thing is clear. Wall Street’s plan to utilize the Far East to hasten entry into World War II is rapidly nearing its fruition.


Last updated on: 24 March 2019