1. Japan And Germany Were Enemies in WWI
Japan was WWII’s second main Axis power, but two decades early, in WWI, Japan had fought with the western democracies against Germany. It was not out of any philosophical affinity for democracy. In 1914, the Japanese government realized that its interests were best served by joining the Entente powers, so it approached Britain, with whom it had an alliance treaty, and proposed joining the war in exchange for Germany’s Pacific possessions. The British wanted Japan to counter German naval power in East Asia, so they accepted. Japan duly declared war against Germany on August 23rd, 1914, and against Austria-Hungary two days later.
Ten days later, Japanese forces besieged the German settlement in Tsingtao, China, and captured it on November 7th. Simultaneously, the Japanese Navy seized Germany’s Pacific possessions of the Marianas, Carolines, and Marshall islands. Having fulfilled its part of the bargain by suppressing the Germans in the Far East, and chasing the German East Asiatic Squadron out of the Pacific, Japan spent the rest of the war making the best of it. By 1917, millions had died in Europe, but in Japan, the conflict meant not hardship, but a wartime boom, as Japanese industry and factories went full blast in producing goods for her insatiable allies.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading