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Formal name of the alliance between Germany, Italy and Japan, signed on September 27, 1940. Also referred to the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, the Three Power Pact, or simply, the Axis. The alliance was meant to deter both the United States from joining the war on the side of the allies, which was neutral at the time and had interests in both Asia and Europe. Subsequent members to the Tripartite Pact included Hungary on November 20, 1940, Romania on November 23, 1940, Bulgaria on March 1, 1941 and Yugoslavia on March 25, 1941.

The pact distinctly excluded belligerence by the Soviet Union against one member as obliging the other members to come to their assistance - both Japan and Germany had separate peace treaties with the Soviets. Nor were members required to declare war on countries that were attacked by another member of the alliance; Adolf Hitler's declaration of war against the United States after Pearl Harbour was both unnecessary and ultimately fatal.

One of the most important treaties of World War Two was succinct and brief, and is reproduced below:

The governments of Germany, Italy and Japan, considering it as a condition precedent of any lasting peace that all nations of the world be given each its own proper place, have decided to stand by and co-operate with one another in regard to their efforts in greater East Asia and regions of Europe respectively wherein it is their prime purpose to establish and maintain a new order of things calculated to promote the mutual prosperity and welfare of the peoples concerned.

Furthermore, it is the desire of the three governments to extend co-operation to such nations in other spheres of the world as may be inclined to put forth endeavours along lines similar to their own, in order that their ultimate aspirations for world peace may thus be realized.

Accordingly, the governments of Germany, Italy and Japan have agreed as follows:

Article I: Japan recognizes and respects the leadership of Germany and Italy in the establishment of a new order in Europe.

Article II: Germany and Italy recognize and respect the leadership of Japan in the establishment of a new order in Greater East Asia.

Article III: Japan, Germany and Italy agree to cooperate in their efforts on the aforesaid lines. They further undertake to assist one another with all political, economic and military means when one of the three Contracting Parties is attacked by a power at present not involved in the European War or in the Sino-Japanese Conflict.

Article IV: With the view to implementing the present pact, joint technical commissions, members which are to be appointed by the respective governments of Germany, Italy and Japan will meet without delay.

Article V: Japan, Germany and Italy affirm that the aforesaid terms do no in any way affect the political status which exists at present as between each of the three Contracting Parties and Soviet Russia.

Article VI: The present pact shall come into effect immediately upon signature and shall remain in force 10 years from the date of its coming into force. At the proper time before expiration of said term, the high contracting parties shall at the request of any of them enter into negotiations for its renewal.

In faith whereof, the undersigned duly authorized by their respective governments have signed this pact and have affixed hereto their signatures.

Done in triplicate at Berlin, the 27th day of September, 1940, in the 19th year of the fascist era, corresponding to the 27th day of the ninth month of the 15th year of Showa (the reign of Emperor Hirohito).

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