By 1941 what would become known as World War II had been raging in China for 10 years. America had largely avoided involvement though one incident presaged America's involvement in the conflict.
Almost three years before Pearl Harbor, Nanking — then the capitol of the Republic of China — was overrun by the Japanese military and accompanied by a brutal wave of atrocities. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 300,000 Chinese men, women and children were killed and thousands of women were raped.
December 12, 1937, during the battle for the city Japanese bombers deliberately targeted the neutral U.S.S. Panay killing 5 Americans. American public opinion began to turn against Japan after the sinking of the vessel and word of atrocities began to be heard. This graphic tries to take an optimistic tone with the final note:
1941— Spread of war seems averted as U.S. seeks understanding with Japan; Emperor Hirohito takes command of army, favoring "go slow" policy, but still seeks a "new order" in Asia