On today in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt seizes all Japanese assets in the United States in retaliation for the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China.
On July 24, Tokyo made a decision to strengthen its position with regards to its invasion of China by moving through Southeast Asia. Given that France had lengthy occupied elements of the spot, and Germany, a Japanese ally, now controlled the majority of France through Petain’s puppet government, France “agreed” to the occupation of its Indo-China colonies. Japan followed up by occupying Cam Ranh naval base, 800 miles from the Philippines, wherever Americans had troops, and the British base at Singapore.
President Roosevelt swung into action by freezing all Japanese assets in America. Britain and the Dutch East Indies followed suit. The outcome: Japan lost usage of three-fourths of its overseas trade and 88 percent of its imported oil. Japan’s oil reserves have been only sufficient to last 3 years, and only half that point if it visited war and consumed fuel at an even more frenzied pace. Japan’s quick response was to occupy Saigon, once more with Vichy France’s acquiescence. If Japan could acquire handle of Southeast Asia, including Malaya, it might also manage the region’s rubber and tin production-a serious blow to the West, which imported such materials from the East. Japan was now confronted with a dilemma: cool off of its occupation of Southeast Asia and hope the oil embargo will be eased-or seize the oil and additional antagonize the West, into war even.