Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A Sneak Peek

Here's a sample of the first three pages of "Battles of the Pacific War 1941-1945":

The Japanese Empire had gradually expanded in the 20th century. Victories in its wars with the empires of Russia and Germany in the early years of the century had further consolidated its territory in Asia. However, as the 1920s gave way to the 1930s, the Wall Street Crash ensured a decline in free trade and a period of economic stagnation.

For Japan, extending the empire had potential economic advantages. Senior generals called for military campaigns aimed at gaining more colonies which could provide additional raw materials. With a larger empire established Japan would not have to import as much. Manchuria, a province in northern China, was rich in minerals and land suitable for agriculture. In 1931, claiming that a portion of Japan's South Manchuria Railway had been sabotaged by China, the Japanese army invaded and occupied the town of Shenyang.

The situation could not escape the attention of the League of Nations. Soon after the invasion the League requested that Japan withdraw as soon as possible. The Japanese military was not about to back down, and advanced further so that by the end of 1931 the Japanese army occupied the whole of Manchuria.

While this occupation did not ensure a war with China in the early 1930s, it was the beginning of an emerging war with China. The United States gave its support to China. The USA even proposed a Japanese arms embargo, but this was never established. The United States also remained in accord with the findings of the League of Nations regarding the situation in Manchuria. Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933.

A few years later in 1937 a wider war in China did indeed begin. Japan claimed that its troops had been fired at by Chinese soldiers at Marco Polo Bridge, and soon after its army invaded China from Manchuria. The Japanese army dominated the early period of this war as they advanced further into China. One by one China's cities such as Nanking and Shanghai were occupied.

Despite these early victories, the Sino-Japanese War was far from over. Though the Japanese army had won most of the key cities they only occupied the northeast of the country. The millions of Japanese soldiers in China could not fully defeat the Chinese army, or indeed the communist guerrillas who provided further military support during the conflict.

The escalation of the war merely increased Western suspicions. However, by 1939 Britain and France were at war with Germany; and military defeats in Europe meant they were not about to open new fronts elsewhere. The United States remained isolationist and would not provide China with firm military support.

Notwithstanding its isolationist foreign policy, the United States did establish a Japanese embargo in 1940 as the war in China continued. These economic sanctions froze American oil exports to Japan, as well as exports of steel and iron ore. Even though the embargo was incomplete, since Japan still obtained a small quantity of oil from the United States, it began to have a noticeable impact by 1941. As Japan's oil supplies became increasingly depleted, it was clear that it could not continue the war in China much further as aircraft and tanks required fuel.

Negotiations with the United States regarding withdrawal from China continued in the early 1940s. However, the Japanese military had prepared an alternative plan that would ensure it could remain in China, in the short term at least. This scheme outlined how Japan could quickly expand its empire in the Pacific with a series of advances targeting European colonies in the region. With the possible exception of Singapore, most of the....

That's as far as this preview goes, but there may be a few more included on this blog. So watch this space!  

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