Why did Japan Join the Axis? (Short Animated Documentary)

Ever wondered why Japan joined the Axis powers? No? Well tough. In hindsight it seemed like a bad idea to tie itself to Germany and Italy during the greatest conflict in human history. They’re not as foolhardy as you may think. Find out exactly why they did so in this short and simple animated history documentary.


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Into the Tiger’s Den: Japan and the Tripartite Pact, 1940 by Jeremy A. Yellen


  1. Japan didn't even need South Korea and Manchuria. It all started when Perry opened Japan. Japan was made up of itself

  2. In my Alternative World History, Nazi Germany (or Denmark-Germany) allies with Italy and Iberia (aka Spain) instead. While there is more to the Axis, that is the Big 3, at least in Europe.

    Japan, while it still joins the alliance, is more about liberating Asia as well as being a new Empire as well. It does make a deal with Europe, but is more about making an Asian/Oceanian Empire that frees those regions from Europe as well.

    So in this case, history isn't that much different but only a little bit. It is more based on history as it was roughly.

  3. Hm. The two things in this video that need further explanation are (1) why England and America were more outraged about Japanese invasion of China than Germany was, and (2) why Japan expected Germany to win.

    (1) would be that Germany’s sphere of influence in China had been destroyed by WW1, but Anglo-American influence was preserved. And (2) would be that Japan must have expected the USA to remain neutral end continue supplying them oil.

  4. Allies to Japan: "you can't just become an imperial nation and try to colonize and take over stuff!"
    Also the Allies to their colonial possessions and cultural hegemony: "shhhh keep quiet"

  5. Just to highlight the resources element, Japan was on a clock driven by their dwindling oil reserves. The US stopped supplying them with oil because of China, and they had a limited window to use diplomacy to get the US back onboard, or else they'd have to abandon everything they'd gained. Their people and military found this unacceptable, and their PM was basically powerless to control the military.

  6. something which could have been added: Japan was fighting against germany in WW1, invited to the peace deals but without any say. Which deeply insulted that rising power

  7. You should do one that covers Thailand, Prime Minister Phibun and their acquiescence to Japan. Message me for more info.

  8. Since most comments covered the irony of trying to not be a puppet and then becoming a puppet, why were they worried about Anglo-American global hegemony? The USA's population was deeply isolationist and thus, there was very little chance of getting Congress to agree to a declaration of war against Japan as it would likely cost the Congresspeople their seat in the next election. And at 1941 standards, neither the USA nor the UK could have possibly been able to implement any sort of hegemony. I know FDR disliked Japanese actions in China, and I remember hearing that the USA and China at the time had fairly good relations, but there was no possible way to sell a war to save China to Americans. France was already forced to kneel and the UK and the Commonwealth were all that was left standing against the Pact of Steel at the time. Both the American and Japanese government were full of paranoid and racist assholes, but they weren't stupid. Japan knew the American population was isolationist and that wasn't going to change quickly or easily.

    Unless someone were to do something so monumentally stupid as to give the American population something to rally around and make an extremely clear distinction of good vs bad. But there is no possible way that one Axis power, let alone two, would make the suicidal mistake of sneak attacking a much larger, populous, and industrious nation that was content to sit on the fence. Right?

  9. During WW2, Germany helped Japan with weapons technology like rockets, jet fighters, nuclear science, tanks and small arms. When Germany asked Japan for help to fight communist Russia, Japanese turned back on Germany which cost millions German soldiers lives in Eastern front because Japanese broke treaty and refused to attack communist Russia. Japanese soldiers also raped German women as sex slaves during WW2 when NAZI Germany and Japan had defense treaty. After WW2, Germany took full responsibility and made a formal apology to victims and their government to make things right while Japanese government and people still refuse to take responsibility and make full apology for war crimes. Japanese are also playing victims and demand apology from Washington to make full apology for dropping nuclear bombs that ended war quickly which saved millions lives.

  10. Germany, Italy and Japan are all famous for their cars.

    Germany: Buggatti, Mercedes, BMW, Audi….

    Italy: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati…

    Japan: Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda..

  11. I feel like there's a missing detail in this explainer.

    During WWI, Japan was actually allied with the Entente (UK, France, Russia, later USA). They 'liberated' the port of Qingdao (Germany's only port city in China) in a five-week naval battle in 1914. This was even before the Christmas Truce. About 4,700 Germans (all the remaining troops that weren't killed in the battle, though only 200 Germans were killed, along with German non-combatants) were captured and sent to POW camps in Japan, where they were actually treated quite well by the standards of the time. All but 170 were repatriated after the war ended; those 170 instead chose to live in Japan.

    I feel like Japan's fair treatment of German POWs in WWI played some sort of role in Nazi Germany warming up to Japan in the lead-up to WWII.

  12. Why did japan join the axis

    They didn't. The end

    They signed the tripartite pact, but the axis was called as such because of the Rome Berlin axis. Correct me if I am wrong but no straight line can connect any part of japan with Rome and Berlin.

  13. Japan didn't join the Axis, they only signed a defensive alliance with Germany and Italy. they were never formally in the Rome-Berlin Axis, and had much more independence from German influence than actual axis members did, for example, choosing not to declare war on the soviet union despite it violating the tripartite pact.
    The logic behind Japan being in the Axis is flawed, the Rome-Berlin Axis is a specific coalition in a specific part of the world. It is uniquely a European coalition just like the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere is a uniquely Asian coalition of nations. If you use the logic required to put Japan in the Rome-Berlin Axis, you would also need to use that same logic to put Germany and Italy in the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

  14. So everything they feared happened…
    1) It didnt want USSR to have a sphere of influence on China [China becomes communist]
    2) Amercica leading an Anglo-American thingy [It did]
    3) Getting South-East Asia for themselves [They become independent]

  15. Japan worried it will become a puppet of the USA

    attacks the USA and loses the war

    becomes a puppet of the USA to prevent future wars

    That went well.

  16. 1:55 I "It pushed USSR to be formally invited to help resist Angela Merkel in Germany"

    It pushed USSR to be formally invited to help resist anglo american hegemony

  17. That last bit is interesting because Germany's goal in WW2 was never colonial power or even the dissolution of the British Empire, but to be the center of European power and to unite and expand the Germanic peoples. This means that even if Japan had invaded the Dutch East Indies, Indochina, or British colonies without being formally allied to Germany they wouldn't have faced any military or (probably) diplomatic retribution from Germany if they had one. They could've done all this without having to face the US Navy, at least not in the 1940s.

    Edit: all this is important because it shows that even less than a century ago, cultural and ideological differences were still so different, and communication was so low (even between nations that were ideologically similar), Nations could make blunders like that

  18. As someone who is hearing impaired and find the subjects of your videos interesting, I've never been able to complete a single video. The narrating is really not up to scratch, neither are the subtitles.

  19. "They were trying to build an anglo-american cultural and economic hegemony across the world and thus Japan had to fight this unless it wanted to become nothing more than an american puppet".
    Oh.. ouch. I mean.. nobody can say that they were wrong with that statement lol.

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