The first decisive step along the road to World War II was the Japanese seizure of Manchuria in 1931. Henry L. Stimson (1867-1950), President Hoover’s secretary of state, responded to the seizure by announcing that the United States would recognize no gains made by armed force.
Stimson hoped that Britain and the other democracies might follow this American lead, but his hopes were largely disappointed. The League of Nations did send a commission headed by the earl of Lytton (1876-1947); the Lytton Report of 1932 condemned the Japanese act as aggression.
Neither the United States nor the League, however, fortified its verbal protests by effective action. Japan, refusing to accept the report, withdrew from the League of Nations in March 1933.