With admiration, which was reflected at them by Adolf Hitler and a substantial portion of the German High Command during World War I. Imperial Japan believed that the British and Americans had slighted the reputation of the Japanese Empire after WWI, especially when the Washington Naval Conference forced Japan to have only three-fifths of the size of the Anglo-American fleets.
To Japan, her former allies had insulted her and tried to prevent her from achieving the greatness she so desired.
In came Hitler and Nazi Germany, which initially supported Chiang’s Nationalist Regime in Nanjing against the Japanese and the Communists. However, Hitler decided that the Japanese were far more reliable allies, and the two major powers struck up a bargain to defeat the Western Allies and the Communists.
An Axis wartime propaganda poster, depicting the three leaders of the Tripartite Pact, now referred to as the Axis Powers.
The Japanese saw the Germans are worthy allies who would help them defeat the Bolsheviks in Russia as well as the Capitalist Western Allies. Although the Japanese did respect Hitler and wanted to conquer the world with him, they completely failed to see eye to eye on numerous issues, specifically the planned operations to defeat the Soviet Union as well as the Japanese war against the United States of America.
When Nazi Germany and its fascist allies invaded the Soviet Union, the Japanese had the opportunity to potentially tie down the Soviet Siberian Divisions and more units by attacking the Red Army in Outer Manchuria and Mongolia. The move would have been nearly suicidal, as the Japanese air superiority would have been negated by the strength of Soviet armor.
Hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers would have been killed, wounded, or captured in the first month of combat and their offensives would surely halt once they took the coasts. However, the Japanese would have succeeded in tying down desperate reinforcements the Soviets needed in those dire months.
Worst case scenario, the Germans could have overwhelmed the Soviets in Moscow and forced them into a general retreat to the Volga.
Also, Germans and Italians had no idea that the Japanese would decisively attack the Americans at Pearl Harbor. They had a general idea that Japan’s war against Britain was looming but the Germans and Italians didn’t know about the sheer scale of the conflict.