By Akira Iriye, Warren I. Cohen
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Additional info for American, Chinese, and Japanese perspectives on wartime Asia, 1931-1949
No action was taken. 10 Hope persisted in Washington that somehow Shidehara would prevail and the United States would not have to act, but as November rolled on, so did the Japanese army in Manchuria. Increasingly, Stimson was forced to recognize that neither the Nine Power Treaty nor the Kellogg-Briand Pact had restrained Japan and that the obligations of membership in the League had meant nothing. He wanted to act, to put an end to this abomination. From time to time he considered economic sanctions, wondering if Japan could be brought to heel by such pressures, whether they were justified, and what risks they entailed.
Stimson praised the council's work, pledged the support of the United States, and resumed wishful waiting. On December 11, however, the Wakatsuki cabinet resigned, ending forever the era of Shidehara diplomacy. 11 By the end of the first week of January 1932, Japanese troops had driven Chinese forces out of Manchuria, had entered the strategic city of Shanhaiguan at the Great Wall, and were poised to continue into North China. The old capital of Beijing, where the American legation remained, was less than four hundred kilometers away.
Taft's secretary of state, Philander C. Knox, found Roosevelt's argument unacceptable. Knox insisted that the territory was Chinese and that the historic role of the United States as China's champion precluded acquiescence in Japanese imperialism. He sought an alternative between war and surrender, but this quest for a workable alternative was unsuccessful in Taft's day. Now, in the face of more blatant Japanese aggression, what could be done? Hoover was adamant: He would not resort to force. No obligation the United States had to China and no American interest required war or the risk of war.
American, Chinese, and Japanese perspectives on wartime Asia, 1931-1949 by Akira Iriye, Warren I. Cohen