China and the Pacific
Long before World War II had started, the relationship between China and Japan was very uneasy. It was so uneasy that Japan and China kept fighting each other for about 10 years prior to the Pearl Harbor attack (The War in Asia, 4) The Japanese conflict with China was one of the main reasons as to why the United States decided to get involved with Japan and why Japan later attacked Pearl Harbor.
One way that shows China was one of the main reasons the U.S. became involved was the different policies in China. Japan and the U.S. had different policies when it came to China, and Japan realized that. As last act to negotiate with the U.S. before they would have to go into a full-pledged war, the Japanese dispatched an envoy to Washington to negotiate the Japanese’ Plan A and Plan B (Plan A and Plan B, 39) Plan A focused on the conflict in China, while Plan B focused on the conflict in Southeast Asia. Both of these plans stated that the Japanese would withdraw their troops in both China and Indochina once there was a peace between the Chinese and the Japanese.
The United States did not want to have to wait for the Chinese and Japanese to resolve their issues in order for the Japanese to withdraw their forces, so they made a counterproposal to Japan’s Plan B which they titled, “Modus Vivendi.” (Final Draft of proposed Modus Vivendi with Japan, 69) In this document, the United States poses all of its conditions to maintain peace between Japan and the U.S., including things such as the Japanese completely withdrawing troops from China and Indochina in order for the U.S. to unfreeze the assets that they would use to supply Japan.
Many historians, on the other hand, are saying that the United States actually could have made a partial agreement with Japan. If Roosevelt would have relaxed sanctions, Konoe could have given up his southward advance into Chinese territory in order to put all of there efforts into the war going on in Europe at the...