The US-Japan War Talks as seen in official documents
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1. Situation within Japan
2. Japanese foreign policy
 Situation within Japan
The May 15 Incident occurred in 1932, when radical junior officers assassinated Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai, effectively putting to end the role of the political party within the parliamentary system. On February 26, 1936, junior army officers led approximately 1,500 soldiers in an attempted coup d’état, occupying the prime minister's office, the Army Ministry Headquarters, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Headquarters, as well as the killing three senior officials including the Minister of Finance (February 26 Incident). Although the rebellion was quickly suppressed, the military’s influence was strengthened. Following the incident, politicians were constantly subjected to the threats of terrorism and the army and navy gained control of cabinet based on a system in which service ministers should be career officers on active duty.

In July 1937, a confrontation between the Chinese army and the Japanese army stationed in Northern China occurred at the Marco Polo Bridge in the outskirts of Beijing. This confrontation led to the outbreak of the Sino–Japanese War. In order to forge ahead with the war in China, the Japanese government passed the National Mobilization Law in 1938, which enabled the state to control the economy and the lives of its citizens without consultation in the Diet. Before long, block associations in towns, hamlet associations in villages, and neighborhood associations with approximately ten houses per unit were organized. Through these associations, physical labor, financial donations, and metal collection were forcibly assigned.

With a major Germany victory in Europe in the spring of 1940, there were calls for construction of a new domestic order in politics so as “not to miss the bus.” Before long, existing political parties such as the Rikken Seiyukai (Friends of Constitutional Government Party) and the Rikken Minseito (Constitutional Democratic Party) disbanded, and the Taisei Yokusankai (Imperial Rule Assistance Association) was formed.
 Japanese foreign policy

On September 18, 1931, the Kwantung Army stationed in Manchuria (currently northeast China) blew up the South Manchurian Railroad near Liutiao Lake in Fengtian (currently Shenyang). Blaming the Chinese army for the bombing, the Kwantung Army took to the offensive and occupied Manchuria (the Manchurian Incident).

In 1932, Japan established the state of Manchukuo and propped up the last Qing Emperor, Puyi, as the ruler (he became emperor in 1934). At the plea of the Chinese, the League of Nations dispatched the Lytton Commission to examine the situation, and voted against recognition of Manchukuo’s status as a nation. Displeased with this ruling, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations.

In July 1937, a confrontation between the Chinese army and the Japanese army stationed in Northern China occurred at the Marco Polo Bridge in the outskirts of Beijing. This confrontation triggered the Sino–Japanese War (the China Incident). On December 13, 1937, Japan extended its front and occupied Nanjing, the capital of Nationalist China. During the Battle of Nanjing, the Japanese army carried out many killings of noncombatants and looted the city.

The results were that Japan occupied Nanjing but failed to force the surrender of the Chiang Kai-shek led Chinese Nationalist Party. On January 16, 1938, Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe announced that, “The Imperial Government would no longer deal with the Chinese Nationalist Party,” revealing a policy that eliminated the possibility of a negotiated resolution. Meanwhile, the Chinese Nationalist Party moved its capital to Chongqing and while receiving aid from the US and Britain through the supply route to Chiang Kai-shek (En-Sho route), they continued the war with Japan (the Chongqing Nationalist Government).

In response, Japan allowed Wang Jingwei, second in command to Chiang Kai-shek, to escape from Chongqing in March 1940, and established a new Nationalist Government in Nanjing (the Wang Jingwei Government).
Southeast Asia

Following the occupation of Nanjing by the Japanese army in December 1937, the US and Britain boosted aid to the Chongqing Nationalist Government. In response, Japan entered North French Indochina on September 22, 1940, in order to block the supply route to Chiang Kai-shek (En-Sho route) . This action intensified the conflict between Japan and the US and Britain. The US and Britain continued to support the Chongqing Nationalist Government and in October, the US banned exports of scrap iron to Japan.

In early 1941, Japan mediated a boundary dispute between Thailand and French Indochina and attempted to use the opportunity to strengthen its influence over both governments. In the meantime, negotiations between Japan and the Dutch East Indies over the acquisition of strategic materials made little progress due to resistance from the Dutch, a country with close ties to the US and Britain. The strategic importance of southern French Indochina thus began to increase.

On June 25, 1941, at the Imperial General Headquarters and Government Liaison Conference, the government enacted a policy directly in line with the views of the Army and Navy General Headquarters that southern French Indochina needed to be secured in order to acquire rubber and tin. On September 28, 1941, the Japanese army began its occupation of the area.

In response to Japan’s actions, the US, Britain, and the Netherlands officially announced orders to freeze Japanese assets on July 25, 26, and 27, respectively.

Concluding an alliance with Italy and a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union, Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Britain and France declared war on Germany and war in Europe began.

Germany marched across Europe, occupying Paris in June 1940, and concluded a cease-fire agreement with France. With the conclusion of this treaty, the pro-German Vichy government was established in France. Italy entered the war on the side of Germany.

Japan became isolated from the international community following its withdrawal from the League of Nations in 1933. Thus, Japan approached Germany and Italy and in September 1940, the three countries concluded the Tripartite Pact. In April of the following year, Japan concluded the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact with the Soviet Union in attempt to ensure its security in the north.

When Germany abandoned the nonaggression pact in June 1941 and invaded the Soviet Union, the US came to the assistance of the Soviet Union. Thus, animosity deepened between the Axis comprised of Japan, Germany, and Italy and the Allies comprised of the US, Britain, and the Soviet Union.
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