Japan’s military had a strong influence on Japanese society since the days of the Samurai. On the 1st February 1940 the Japanese government announced that over half of its record high expenditure would be on the military. Before the Second World War, as Japan possessed very few natural resources, the Japanese had built an extensive empire in order to import raw materials essential to its economy. They regarded the military as essential to the empire’s defence.
Norway had favourable trade agreements with Britain and France, as well as with Germany. Both Norway and Finland were neutral countries with Norway having a long western coastline giving access to the North Sea and North Atlantic. On the 5th February 1940, Britain and France decided to intervene in Norway in order to cut off the iron ore in anticipation of the expected German occupation. They were also keen to keep the route open for access to Finland. The operation was scheduled to commence about the 20th March 1940. On the 21st February 1940, German General Nicolaus von Falkenhorst was informed by Adolf Hitler he would be the ground commander for the German invasion of Norway. He would need a basic plan for the invasion which Hitler approved when submitted.
Erich von Manstein was a German General who was given command of the German 38th Army Corp, on the 9th February 1940. Manstein had devised an invasion into France through the Ardennes Forest but the German High Command disagreed with his plan. They wished to implement their own proposals, which was a modified version of the Great War’s Schlieffen Plan. This disagreement was followed by his transfer from the High Command’s Headquarters. Adolf Hitler however, was seeking a more aggressive plan and Manstein presented his proposals for the invasion of France on the 17th February 1940.
The German – Soviet Commercial Agreement was signed on the 10th February 1940. The agreement was an economic arrangement between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union agreed to sell and deliver to Germany such commoditize as oil, raw materials and grain.
On the 15th February 1940, the Soviet Army broke through the Mannerheim Line and captured Summa, an important defence point in Finland. The Mannerheim Line was a defensive border fortification built by Finland against the Soviet Union, and on the 17th February 1940 the Finns continued to retreat from the Mannerheim Line.
World opinion supported the Finnish cause in the struggle against the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1940. British civilians were asked to volunteer, on the 14th February 1940, to provide material aid such as medical supplies. Britain and France sold aircraft to the Finnish air force and the British government provided small arms and ammunition.
On the 15th February 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered unrestricted U-boat warfare in an effort to blockade England of the supplies transported across the Atlantic from America. It was hoped that Germany could sink sufficient ships and starve the British nation into suing for peace.