Pagoda structure used primarily for gunnery observation.
The Japanese Navy was seen with increasing
frequency in the waters off Indochina. Their
warships were known to linger in Saigon's harbor
and move with murky purpose about the Gulf
of Thailand through the early months of 1941.
1941 - 31 January
Japan negotiates armistice with Vichy France
over control of Indochina. This move provides
Japan's military access to harbors that are ideal
for launching an invasion of the Dutch East Endies,
Singapore and British Malaysia.
* * * * *
Germany pressures Japan to attack
Joachim von Ribbentrop / Minister Foreign Affairs - Germany
"I tried to induce Japan to attack Singapore because
it was impossible to make peace with England.
An attack by Japan on Britain's strong position
in East Asia might bring Churchill's concession."
* * * * *
Japan's dominance in Southeast Asia
alarms Britain's colonial military.
Churchill replies to an urgent plea to
reinforce the troops in Hong Kong:
"This is all wrong. If Japan goes to war with us
there is not the slightest chance of holding Hong Kong
or relieving it. We must avoid frittering away our
resources on untenable positions. I wish we had fewer
troops there, but to move any away would be noticed
and that would be dangerous."
15 February 1941
Former Naval Person* to President Roosevelt
I think I ought to let you know that the weight of the
Japanese Navy, if thrown against us, would confront us
with situations beyond the scope of our naval resources.
Some believe that Japan in her present mood would not
hesitate to wage war against both Great Britain and the
United States. Everything that you can do to inspire the
Japanese with the fear of a double war may help avert
* * * * *
27 March 1941
Berlin welcomes Japan's Foreign Minister.
Yosuke Matsuoka meets with Reich Foreign Minister Ribbentrop
Japan wants assurances Germany will invade Britain.
The Royal Navy would be forced to return to their home
waters leaving only the token American fleet anchored in
Manila to protect Western interests in the South China Sea.
Ribbentrop points to the extraordinary success
German U-boats now have disrupting America's
supply lines to Britain. England nears the end of
its rope. All that is now needed to bring this war
with Britain to a quick conclusion is simply a
matter of Japan attacking Singapore. The
colonial house of cards in the South China Sea
will come down and Japan will win East Asia
in reward. Roosevelt will not aid Britain knowing
America's own vulnerability in the Philippines.
Churchill sends battleships to Asia
Britain ups ante in showdown with Japan
2 April 1941
In a face-to-face meeting with Matsuoka, Japan's
Foreign Minister, Prime Minister Churchill warns
war with England means war with the U.S. as well.
Their naval forces together are enough to crush
Germany and then deal successfully with Japan.
Matsuoka returns to Tokyo reporting two impressions:
1. Germany will avoid war with the U.S. if at all possible
2. Hitler is cagey regarding his intentions toward Russia
* * * * *
13 April 1941
Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact
Foes Bury Hatchet over Manchurian border
Stalin can now free-up Siberian troops just as
British Intelligence warns him personally of an
enormous deployment of German military along
the Russian frontier.
Japan is able to remove troops stationed along the
Manchurian border and prepare them for action
in the south - towards the South China Sea,
the Philippines and the U.S.
Both Russia and Japan are now free
to take on their most dangerous enemy
without fear of a stab in their back
from either of these longtime
Hitler's crossroads moment.
Britain is weakened but not defeated.
To the east is Russia, land of riches,
miserably governed by Bolsheviks.
It should be a simple matter for
the Wehrmacht, world's greatest
army, to kick in the Soviet door and
extend Hitler's rule over all Russia
west of the Urals.
Germans will celebrate Christmas in Moscow.
© Tom Taylor