China’s weakness was an important factor permitting and encouraging Japan’s empire-building on the continent of Asia in the 1930s. To a significant extent, the Japan-American collision that finally resulted on 7–8 December 1941 in global war arose out of conflicts between Tokyo and Washington over Japan’s effort to subordinate China. To the extent that China’s weakness encouraged rather than deterred Japanese aggression, the train of events leading first to Sino-Japanese and then to Japanese-American war must be traced back to China’s weakness. Stated differently, a power vacuum on the continent of Asia combined with the global crisis of capitalism that began in 1929 to prompt Japan down the road of expansion and ultimately produce the Asia-Pacific component of what became the Second World War.
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John W. Garver
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