Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles With war raging both in Europe and in China, prying eyes around the world eagerly followed the events that were unfolding in front of them. In the US in particular, many still advocated for anti-war sentiment, but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had decided that he was not going to tolerate anymore the aggressions of the Japanese or the Germans. In 1941, he would finally draw a line to stop Japan that would surely risk war. And although FDR didn't want to fight against the Japanese, or at least not yet, this was a risk worth taking for the preservation of democracy around the world; a risk that would inevitably ignite war in the Pacific. Welcome to our final prelude of the Pacific War, as the growing tensions between the US and Japan eventually ended in another act of aggression. 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MagellanTV has an exclusive holiday offer for our viewers: buy one, get one free gift card for an annual membership by clicking on the link in the description. You won't regret it – MagellanTV is great! It is mid-1940, and Great Britain and China stand alone against the full might of Japan and the Axis. In Asia, the now four-year-long conflict was completely depleting the resources of the Japanese Empire, even though Japan already relied on other countries for the resources needed for its war material. The Americans alone provided them with 54.4% of their weapons and supplies, 76% of their aircraft, 59.7% of their scrap iron, 60.5% of their petroleum, and all of Japan's lubricating oil, machine tools, special steel, and high-test aircraft petrol. Furthermore, Communist and Nationalist guerrillas constantly harassed Japanese troops and sabotaged their infrastructure in occupied territories, and with each passing campaign, more and more soldiers were left behind to join these underground groups. The Communists in particular were very capable of waging guerrilla warfare, as they had been doing so since the last two decades, and their experience allowed them to become ever more influential in the regions they defended, something that was not seen very fondly by their Nationalist allies. To fight against these guerrillas, the Japanese would resort to puppet units of the new Reorganized National Government of the Republic of China, uniting all previous collaborationist states under Wang Jingwei's central government. But the Red Army would also prove that it was capable of executing important military operations, with Peng Dehuai's Hundred Regiments Offensive being launched in late August. Using a total of 400000 soldiers, albeit poorly armed and equipped, over 115 regiments of the Eighth Route Army, commanded by Zhu De, would attack railways and roads and would target isolated Japanese strongpoints and forts all along with northern China. The offensive would be very successful, inflicting more than 20000 casualties, taking almost 3000 strongholds, sabotaging many bridges , mines , and tunnels , and destroying large tracts of railways. The operation was controversial as Peng Dehuai initiated it without authorization from Mao Zedong and would be criticized harshly for this. Although the Japanese response to guerrillas had always been brutal, the defeat against the Communists had an unexpected consequence: Japan would adopt the Three Alls Policy, as their forces would then start to kill all, loot all, and burn all . With this bloodier response against Chinese resistance, many war crimes would be committed by Japanese soldiers and resentment would erupt once again between Nationalists and Communists, as Chiang Kai-Shek's followers blamed the Red Army, and Mao Zedong blamed Peng Dehuai, for the harsher Japanese acts. Furthermore, from October to December, Japanese counterattacks would successfully regain control of railway lines and would inflict heavy casualties on the Eighth Route Army. At this point, Japan knew that prolonging the war would be dangerous if foreign powers decided to intervene, so it needed to completely cut off the enemy capital at Chongqing from the foreign aid that it was receiving. Since the outbreak of the war, the British and Americans had been sending war material by sea to the main Chinese ports and Hong Kong, as well as through the railway connecting French Indochina to Yunnan and South Guangxi. Moreover, the Soviets, long-time rivals of Japan in the East, were also sending much aid through the Old Silk Road, although this would only last until the outbreak of Operation Barbarossa. With most of the main Chinese ports already occupied and the British possessions in China surrounded, the Japanese then prepared for an offensive against Indochina, the last Chinese lifeline. In that regard, they had advanced up to the Indochinese border by late July, taking the key district of Longzhou in South Guangxi. Already back in June, the Fall of France had also allowed Tokyo to issue a series of ultimatums demanding the closure of all supply lines to China, among other things. The Indochinese government had no other alternative but to comply, and by September 22, the Japanese had successfully negotiated to station 6000 troops in Tonkin and to move 25000 soldiers through Tonkin to Yunnan. The Indochina Expeditionary Army under General Nishimura Takuma was then formed, starting to travel to their destination on the same day. But at the same time, General Kuno Seiichi's 22nd Army at Nanning independently invaded Annam and started to fight local forces across the border . The fighting ended when General Maurice Martin's Indochinese forces got surrounded at Lạng Sơn [suun], finally surrendering on September 25. Furthermore, the IJN blockaded the Gulf of Tonkin and Nishimura landed in Indochina, fighting a series of minor battles at Dong Tac, Haiphong, and Hanoi. By the evening of September 26, Kuno's forces had reached Lao Cai at the Yunnan border and Indochinese resistance had crumbled. The invasion was a huge success, but it was against Tokyo's wishes due to the agreement that the Japanese had reached. All occupied towns would be then returned and Kuno would be punished for his insubordination, although the Japanese were now undisputed in the region and could then station 40000 soldiers in northern Indochina. But the Japanese success wouldn't be long-lasting, as the British consequently decided in October to open the Burma Road, connecting the Burmese city of Lashio with Yunnan's capital at Kunming. Thus, to the relief of Chiang's government, a new lifeline was created, allowing the Chinese to continue to resist for the next few years. Moreover, General Sonobe Waichiro's 11th Army tried to capitalize on the last victory in Yichang to completely take over the province of Hubei. On November 25, the Japanese offensive began, striking against the Chinese defenses east and west of the Hsiang River and enjoying some initial successes. But, in coordination with local guerrillas, Li Zongren's forces would manage to stop the invaders and counterattack, forcing the Japanese to retreat by November 30. Meanwhile, the US government was outraged and alarmed by the Japanese invasion of Indochina, so President Roosevelt would then double the amount of aid delivered to China and would order the evacuation of all Americans in the Far East. Although the Americans were still woefully unprepared for a war in the Pacific, they now began to see that a confrontation with the Japanese was very possible. Japan's 1940 move into Vichy-controlled Indochina along with its war with China, withdrawal from the League of Nations, alliance with Germany and Italy, and increasing militarization raised tension and induced the United States to intensify its measures to restrain Japan's economy. Scrap-metal shipments to Japan were embargoed and the Panama Canal closed to Japanese trade . Despite these moves, in early 1941 Japan moved into southern Indochina, thereby threatening British Malaya, North Borneo, and Brunei. On December 29, FDR then delivered his tough Arsenal of Democracy speech against Germany and Japan, clearly identifying them as the enemies of democracy and finally dropping the neutrality doctrine that had been sponsored in the 30s. Consequently, American industries would start to arm and support China and the Allies in their respective wars. This would eventually lead to the Lend-Lease program of March 11, 1941, in which the US pledged to support the Allies and China with food, oil, warships, warplanes, and other weaponry. the US froze Japanese assets on July 26, 1941, and on August 1 established an embargo on oil and gasoline exports to Japan, which was a strong response as 80% of Japan's oil was coming from the US and oil was crucial for the war-making in that period. Concurrently, the Kingdom of Thailand, which had seen a rise of ultranationalism and the establishment of a dictatorship under Plaek Phibun in the last few years, also detected the weakness in French Indochina and thus decided to take back some disputed areas that had been ceded in the last century. After the outbreak of border skirmishes, the Thais started aerial bombing runs over the main Indochinese cities and launched an offensive on Laos and Cambodia in early January. Laos would be quickly overrun, but French resistance in Cambodia would be fierce, and with the French naval victory at the Battle of Koh Chang on January 17, the situation soon started to deteriorate for the Thais. Fearing a French victory in the war, the Japanese would then intervene, forcing the Indochinese government to sign an armistice and to cede the disputed provinces. This was a personal victory for Phibun, but the real beneficiaries of the war would be the Japanese, who further increased their influence in both Thailand and Indochina. Fearing a Japanese takeover, Phibun would then reach out to the US and the UK for guarantees, consequently stressing his relationship with Japan. And back in China, 1941 would start with the sudden breakout of hostilities between Nationalists and Communists. Chiang Kai-Shek ordered a withdrawal of the fourth army from Anhui and Jiangsu in late December. As a result of numerous alleged treacherous acts and harassment, Chiang would take action of retribution against the communists. On January 7, while withdrawing from Anhui and Jiangsu, the Communist New Fourth Army was allegedly ambushed and encircled by an 80000-strong Nationalist force of Gu Zhutong's 3rd War Area. After heavy fighting and many casualties, only 2000 Communist soldiers were able to break out of the encirclement by January 13. This marked the end of the Second United Front, as the Nationalist act of treachery would destroy any possibility of further cooperation. At the same time, Sonobe would start two new operations against South Henan and Western Hubei , as well as a large offensive against the city of Shanggao . Yet again, the Chinese would successfully flank and defeat the Japanese invasions by late March, inflicting heavy casualties and forcing the invaders to retreat and to leave behind substantial amounts of military equipment and supplies. As the latest defeats were very demoralizing for the Japanese forces, their victory at the Battle of South Shanxi in May would luckily restore their fighting spirit. On May 7, General Tada Hayao's North China Area Army launched a full offensive against the mountainous region of South Shanxi, quickly breaking through the Chinese defensive lines at Mengxian, Jiyuan, Hengpu, and Wangyuan and managing to encircle the Nationalist army as a result. Worthy of mention is that the Communist 8th Route Army nearby refused to assist the Nationalist forces in the struggle, in retribution of the South Anhui Incident and in the struggle allowed them to be surrounded and destroyed. This was remembered as one of the worst defeats of the entire war for China. Meanwhile, the outbreak of the German Invasion of Russia in late June permitted Japan to sign a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and thus to secure its northern border in case of war with the Allies. This finally allowed the Japanese to begin preparations for a strike against the resource-rich region of Southeast Asia, which had been earmarked to provide the necessary raw material for Japan's industry . The Dutch East Indies and their precious rubber plantations and oil fields were one of the most important objectives of the Japanese Empire; so on July 21, more than 50000 soldiers would invade southern Indochina to prepare naval bases against the Dutch colony. Accurately detecting the intentions of the Japanese, FDR would form the USAFFE in response, nationalizing the Philippine Army and appointing General Douglas MacArthur to lead American forces in the Pacific. In coordination with the British and the Dutch, he would also stop the exports of iron ore, steel and oil to the Japanese; and as we've seen, this was a crippling embargo for Japan, as the Empire relied on foreign imports for its war machine, but also for its home economy. FDR's gamble was to put an end to the Japanese expansion, but Japan's leaders now saw war with the West as their best option, encouraged by their Nazi allies that were overrunning Europe. On September 3, the Supreme War Council met at the Liaison Conference and decided that if the US didn't resume oil shipments by October, then they would start preparations for simultaneous attacks against the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and Malaysia.