Race to Pearl Harbour: The Failure of the Second London Naval Conference and the Onset of World War II
by Stephen E. Pelz
About the Book
Used book. Hardcover. No dust jacket. Library copy. Good condition.
The study challenges some widely held assumptions about the origins of the war in the Pacific by pointing out the importance of the naval race in the 1930s between the Anglo-America powers and the Japanese.
Until now, Japanese military history in the thirties has been viewed largely from the standpoint of the army. Mr. Pelz corrects this imbalance. He sets the stage with an account of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the subsequent isolation of Japan, and internal political purges and assassination attempts that kept Japan in turmoil.
After 1933, the Japanese Navy made significant technological advances in areas of fighter planes, submarines, torpedoes, and super battleships. As Anglo-American hopes for disarmament vanished with the Japanese withdrawal from the treaty system during the Second London Naval Conference of 1935, Japan began its program of secret expansion. The Japanese naval authorities generated a naval race with the United States and this competition was a major cause of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
For a number of years, the United States could not match Japanese naval building because of the strong isolationist bloc in Congress and the restraints of the depression. And Great Britain, still recovering from World War I and fearing financial ruin from rearmament, was forced to abandon Asia for Europe in 1939.
The flashpoint in American-Japanese relations came when Japan expanded south and the United States responded with a huge naval program and embargoes on metal and oil shipments to Japan in 1940-41. Finally, the Japanese sought a decisive battle with the United States because they calculated that within two years they would lose their lead in naval armaments. Yet, when they struck Pearl Harbor, their action demonstrated the irony of history, for their carrier force which heavily damaged the American Pacific fleet also destroyed the old system of naval strategy on which Japanese military plans were based. In the author’s words, the “ruin of disarmament had led first to an arms race, then to war, and finally to the destruction of Japan’s navy and empire.”
This is the first study in English of the role of the Japanese navy during those years which led to Pearl Harbor, and the first study of the naval question which rests on a wide assortment of documents and personal papers in Japan, the United States, and Great Britain.