Featuring Pre-WWII Self Reliance, Export Controls, Financial Sanctions, and Bad Intel
Quote: "... the prevailing judgment is that the Japanese will never even risk a war against the Americans because it would be so economically catastrophic to them."
I thought this was interesting as well, because that is exactly what Japan ended up doing. So, I chased down that whole story in a two-part post on Pearl Harbor. Here is the second post, which tries to look at how Japan prepared for the attack and highlights is was more of a desperate gamble to end up in a better spot when, inevitably from Japan's viewpoint, the US entered the war.
"Japan relied heavily on imports from the United States to fuel its prewar industrial growth, most specifically on oil and metals. In the runup to World War II, tensions escalated between the two countries as Japanese aggression in China and Southeast Asia progressed.
Starting in 1939, the Roosevelt administration began implementing embargos on raw materials. The first embargoes were for aircraft construction materials, followed thereafter with increasingly critical metals until a final blow was dealt with an oil embargo in 1941. At the time, the United States was the source for 80% of oil imports in Japan, and without that trade-based lifeline, Japan was set to bleed down its store of oil reserves over the next twelve months.
Up until that point, Imperial Japan had relied on diplomatic routes to attempt to ease the vise of America’s embargo, but the restrictions on oil made it clear that the Roosevelt administration intended to punish Japan for its aggressiveness and reverse the gains Japan had made militarily. Violent conflict seemed inevitable at that point, with the Japanese military believing itself a superior people destined to control the lands it was invading while at the same time recognizing that the United State’s military strength could not be challenged head-on.
The military turned to the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Yamamoto..."