American, Chinese, and Japanese perspectives on wartime by Akira Iriye, Warren I. Cohen

By Akira Iriye, Warren I. Cohen

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Gary Hess's detailed treatment of international affairs in the region shows that even before the war the United States was deepening its involvement in Thailand, Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies and developing its special position in the Philippines. By 1940, Hess notes, the United States was the key factor in regional stability, which Japan's southward expansion was threatening. Already in 1941, American trade exceeded Japanese trade with the Indies, and Washington even considered, although it ultimately decided against, military assistance to Thailand against a possible Japanese attack.

The period from 1931 to 1949 has appeared to them to be particularly appropriate for such an undertaking, because this was a time of conflict, war, revolution, and civil war, and scholars from the countries directly involved in the drama are in an excellent position to compare research findings and to reflect on these phenomena. Six historians from the United States, two from China, and two from Japan were supported in this project by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation which enabled them to meet periodically from 1982 to 1985.

II In January 1933, Stimson met with President-elect Roosevelt and asked for Roosevelt's endorsement of his policy of indicting Japan and attempting to rally world opinion against Japanese aggression. Roosevelt offered the requested assurances, indicating that (like Stimson and Hoover) he was indignant about Japanese actions and convinced that the United States had a moral obligation to denounce them. Japanese expansion appeared to conform to a blueprint he claimed a Japanese student at Harvard had outlined for him in 1902.

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