In a 25 August 1940 telegram, the Vichy colonial ministry ordered New Caledonia to turn over its entire nickel production to Japan. This decision, announced in Nouméa on 3 September 1940, has been interpreted by memoirists and historians alike as a ‘camouflaged’ military invasion and a trigger for the successful bloodless coup that brought New Caledonia to the side of Free France 16 days later. The telegram’s full text, however, suggests an equally important interpretation, one that contributes to recent scholarship arguing for the ‘trans-imperial’ origins of the ‘global axis alliance’ from 1931 to 1940. Drawing on Japanese, Australian, American and French archival sources, this article argues that New Caledonian nickel–a crucial metal in armament production–not only helped Japan’s pursuit of autarkic empire in the 1930s but also served as a Japanese bargaining chip that helped convince the Germans to sign the Tripartite Pact on 27 September 1940.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science