The Anti-Comintern Pact was signed by Germany and Japan on November 25, 1936, and joined by Italy on November 6, 1937. Disguised as an effort to combat the influence of the Communist International (Comintern), the treaty was intended to serve as a military alliance aimed at the Soviet Union. In reality, the treaty did not result in any coordinated German-Japanese military action, but instead became the foundation for growing distrust and betrayal between the two fascist allies themselves.
The text of the treaty was brief and to the point. It asserted that the Communist International was a threat to world peace and that the signatories planned to "keep each other informed concerning the activities" of the Comintern and cooperate in their mutual defense, and invited other nations to join their efforts. A Supplementary Protocol empowered Germany and Japan to "take stringent measures against those who at home or abroad work" for the Comintern, authorizing repressive measures against members of the Communist Party in Germany, Japan, or countries under their influence. Finally, both promised not to sign a separate agreement with the Soviet Union without the other being informed. Viscount Kintomo Mushakoji, the Japanese ambassador to Germany, and Joachim von Ribbentrop, German ambassador to London, signed the treaty. It went into force immediately and was valid for five years.
The Anti-Comintern Pact threatened the USSR and seemed to be one more aspect of Germany's aggressive policy. Nevertheless, the German and Japanese military staffs did not coordinate their actions, and each country pursued its own interests irrespective of the Anti-Comintern Pact.
In 1939, while the Soviet army was defeating the Japanese military in Manchuria along the Mongolian border, Ribbentrop traveled to Moscow and negotiated the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, leaving the Japanese out of these deliberations. Japan could not trust Hitler. In 1941, again without notice, Germany invaded the USSR. Japan decided not to assist its ally in the Anti-Comintern Pact and eventually attacked the United States instead of the USSR.
See also: communist international; germany, relations with; nazi-soviet pact of 1939; world war ii
Department of State. (1943). Foreign Relations of the United States: Japan, 1931–1941, Vol. II. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
Harold J. Goldberg