2-601 Editorial Note on Planning Regarding Japan, Fall 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Editorial Note on Planning Regarding Japan

Fall 1941

With the mid-October formation of the Tojo government in Japan, President Roosevelt and his principal military advisers recognized the deterioration of the Far Eastern situation. Roosevelt did nothing, however, to accommodate Japanese expansion in either China or Southeast Asia. (Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense, p. 154.) United States military planners came increasingly to believe that reinforcement of the Philippines could deter Japanese expansion southward.

By mid-autumn W.P.D. planners were arguing that “unexpected Russian opposition to Germany, continuance of Chinese resistance, economic pressure exerted by the United States, Great Britain and the Dutch, and the uncertainty of the outcome of war with the Associated Powers have caused Japan to hesitate.” The Philippines were a major roadblock to Japan’s continued southward expansion, and removal of this obstacle “would be a hazardous military operation, if opposed by strong aviation forces (United States and Associated Powers). For air support of such an attack on the Philippines, Japan must rely on carrier-based aviation and intermittent support from long-range aircraft based on Taiwan. The cost of this operation would be so great that Japan will hesitate to make the effort except as a last resort.” W.P.D. recommended immediate shipments of modern combat planes to the islands. “Starting with 1942, the aviation strength will be raised to a total of 170 heavy bombers, 86 light bombers, and 195 pursuit.” (“Strategic Concept of the Philippine Islands,” October 8, 1941, attachment [Tab 1] to Marshall to MacArthur, October 18, 1941, NA/RG 165 [WPD, 4175-18]. Concerning air reinforcements see Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, Plans and Early Operations: January 1939 to August 1942, a volume in The Army Air Forces in World War II [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948], pp. 175-93.)


Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 675.

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