An Alliance is Formed


Anti-Comintern Pact

German-Soviet Pact

Tripartite Pact





With the rise and fall of the Abe cabinet from August 1939 until January 1940, and the Yonai cabinet from January 1940 until July 1940, no new agreements were made with Germany until the Konoye cabinet was established in July 1940. The decision was made by the cabinet to take advantage of the German victories in Europe with an expansion south into the territories held by the western powers. This expansion would be a great change from the previous foreign policy making England and the US the two main enemies of Japanese interest. With Japan attacking Allied forces in the Pacific, Hitler would face less resistance from England in conquering Europe. The hope was that a Japan-Axis alliance would hold America back from interfering in Europe. Heinrich Stahmer, Rippentrop's right-hand man contacted the Japanese embassy on August 13, 1940 to officially declare Germany ready for discussion of the new alliance.

This map shows the territory in which Japan was looking to expand in the south.

On September 4, Matsuoka drew up the preliminary arrangement for the Tripartite Pact, which would involve the alliance of the three main Axis powers, Japan, Germany, and Italy. The main term of the Pact was, America had to remain neutral. For Germany it was to provide a quick victory against England and allow them to carry out their plans to attack Russia, and for Japan it meant they were able to expand south without American interference. Japan also hoped to gain from this alliance improved relations with Russia through German mediation. Hitler already had his plans in place to attack Russia and wanted to avoid an early conflict so a claus was placed in the Tripartite Pact that stated the political relations between Germany, Italy, or Japan and Russia would go unchanged by the signing of the Pact and that the goal was directed toward the US. On September 25, 1940 Germany approved the final copy of the Pact written by Matsuoka, was later that day accepted by Italy, and was approved by Japan on the 26th.

Pictured: (clockwise)Rippentrop, Kurusu, and Hitler

The Tripartite Pact was signed by Rippentrop, for Germany, Ciano, Italy's Minister of Propaganda, for Italy, and Kurusu, for Japan, on September 27, 1940 in Berlin. The military alliance of the Axis powers was now final.

The Minister of Propaganda, who signed the Pact for Italy, Ciano

The Pact itself contained six articles stating its purpose and goals. The six articles stated as follows:

1. Japan recognizes and respects the leadership of Germany and Italy in the establishment of a new world order in Europe.
2. Germany and Italy recognize and respect the leadership of Japan in the establishment of a new world order in Greater East Asia.
3. Japan, Germany, and Italy agree to cooperate in their efforts on the aforesaid lines. They further undertake to assist one another with all political, economic and military means when one of the three contracting parties is attacked by a power at present not involved in the European war or in the Sino-Japanese conflict.
4. In order to effect this alliance, joint specialized committees composed of members appointed by each power shall meet as early as possible.
5. Japan. Germany, and Italy affirm that the aforesaid terms do not in any way affect the political status which exists at present as between each of the three contracting powers and Soviet Russia.
6. This alliance shall become effective on the day of signature and shall remain in force for the period of ten years.

Along with these six articles, a secret set of terms was given and not released to the public. They included the following conditions:

1. Joint Military and Naval commissions, and a joint economic commission were to be organized at Tokyo and Berlin.
2. It was agreed that the three governments would determine by consultation whether or not a party to the treaty had been attacked, and what measures of mutual assistance were to be adopted.
3. Germany and Italy agreed to use their good offices to improve relations between Japan and Russia, and to induce the Soviet Union to act along the policy of the Tripartite Pact.
4. Exchange of military supplies, technical skill, raw materials, machinery, etc., was to be regulated.
5. Mutual preferential economic treatment was to be created at once.

Left: Hitler and Mussolini ; Right: Hitler shaking hands with General Oshima


The reaction to the Pact was one of great joy throughout the nations involved. The Tripartite Pact was the foundation for which the relations between Germany and Japan were built and carried the two sides all away to the end of the war.



This exhibit was researched and designed by [Scott Wolfrom].

This exhibit and museum were created during an introductory seminar on the Asia-Pacific War, taught at Wake Forest University during the spring semester 2002.

The material and opinions are those of their respective authors and do not represent the views of the University or the Department of History.