The war may have started in 1941, but Japan had already been terrorizing the rest of Asia and the Pacific for decades (centuries, even), which is how the conflict really began.
Since your view of Japan is so peachy, you should read up on the Rape of Nanjing, Bataan Death March, Unit 731, comfort women, Manila Massacre, Palawan Massacre, Wake Island, Banka Island, Laha, etc., etc., etc.
They were animals. And instead of owning up to it like Germany does, they teach revisionist bullshit history that sounds exactly like what you're saying now. No country that wants to remain "neutral" goes on a genocidal killing spree across the entire Pacific, from Nanjing to Honolulu. They entered the war by committing a war crime--killing thousands of Americans in peacetime and declaring war the next day. This "statement" that the Japanese were willing to gun down Americans on their own soil, along with the Bataan Death March, explicitly stated that the Japanese had no value for American life. or Chinese, Filipino, Korean, and so on. They inspired widespread recruitment in the US which led to the firebombing and nuking of Japan and a fear/hatred of the Japanese you didn't see for the other axis powers. There's a reason Japan got fucked harder than any country has ever been in the history of war. Just because they make cool shit now doesn't excuse this.