- Jun 11, 2015
The victories over Russia and China, established Japan as the first great, modern, non-Western power in Asia. The Japanese leaders felt it was their duty to avenge the humiliation inflicted on Asia during the colonial period after the Opium War. Particularly the Russo-Japanese War halted European expansion into East Asia and provided an international structure for East Asia that brought some degree of stability to the region. It also changed the world from a European-centered world to one in which a new pole was emerging in Asia.
In the 1914-1918, during Great War, Japan was part of the Entente as a British ally, but played only a minor role, mostly in fighting German colonial forces in East Asia and protecting convoys, not just in Asia, but in Mediterranean Sea too. In late 1917, the Japanese government was alarmed to find that the British government, despite the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, had approached the United States about a possible joint intervention at Vladivostok against Bolsheviks, without consulting Japan. After the international coalition withdrew its forces, the Japanese Army stayed on. In March and April 1922, the Japanese Army repulsed large Bolshevik offensives, before final withdrawal. At the Versailles Peace Conference of 1919, Japan's proposal of "racial equality clause" to the covenant of the League of Nations was rejected by the United States, Britain and Australia. The Japanese media fully covered the progress of the conference, leading to an alienation of Japanese public opinion towards the United States of America. Makino Nobuaki, the career diplomat who headed the Japanese delegation, announced at a press conference:
"We are not too proud to fight but we are too proud to accept a place of admitted inferiority in dealing with one or more of the associated nations. We want nothing but simple justice."
Continuing shows of arrogance and racial discrimination towards the Japanese had plagued Japanese-Western relations since the forced opening of the country in the 1850s, and were again a major factor for further deterioration. In 1920s, Washington Naval Treaty created great controversy and conflict in high ranks of the Imperial Japanese Navy, between the Treaty Faction officers and their Fleet Faction opponents, who were also allied with the ultranationalists of the Imperial Japanese Army and civilian parts of the government. Unofficial terms of the treaty included the end of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance as well, because American delegates had made it clear they would not agree to the treaty unless Britain ended its alliance with the Japanese. In 1924, United States enforced the Exclusion Act that prohibited further immigration from Japan.
Emerging Chinese nationalism, the victory of the communists in Russia, and the growing presence of the United States in East Asia, all worked against Japan's postwar foreign policy interests. In addition, after Great War, Japan's economical situation worsened.
During the 1930s, the military established almost complete control over the government. Many political enemies with pro-western or leftist leanings were assassinated or executed, especially communists. Indoctrination and censorship in education and media were further intensified. Military officers from both Army and Navy soon occupied most of the key offices, including the one of the prime minister.
Empire of Japan, now alone, followed the example of Western nations only more than before, and forced China into unequal economical and political treaties. Furthermore, Japan's influence over Manchuria had been steadily growing since the end of the Russo-Japanese War. When the Nationalists began to seriously challenge Japan's position in Manchuria in 1931, the Kwantung Army invaded Manchuria. In the following year, "Manchukuo" was declared an independent state, controlled by the Kwantung Army through a puppet government.
In the same year, the Japanese air force bombarded Shanghai in order to protect Japanese residents from anti-Japanese movements.
In 1933, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations since she was heavily criticized for her actions in China:
GENEVA, Feb. 24, 1933 -- The Japanese delegation, defying world opinion, withdrew from the League of Nations Assembly today after the assembly had adopted a report blaming Japan for events in Manchuria.
The stunned international conclave, representing almost every nation on earth, sat in silence while the delegation, led by the dapper Yosuke Matsuoka, clad in black, walked from the hall. The crowded galleries broke into mingled hisses and applause.
"We are not coming back," Matsuoka said simply as he left the hall.
The session which made history, signifying the final break between the league and one of the world's major powers, was fairly brief and simple.
As the roll was called down the alphabetical list of nations, delegate after delegate voted for the resolution.
When China was called, there was a slight stir of expectancy and W. W. Yen, Chinese delegate, firmly answered:
Japan was called a few moments later.
Matsuoka's decisive "No." could be clearly heard in all parts of the hall.
"Japan will oppose any attempt at international control of Manchuria. It does not mean that we defy you, because Manchuria belongs to us by right. Read your history. We recovered Manchuria from Russia. We made it what it is today. We look into the gloom of the future and can see no certain gleam of light before us," Matsuoka declared.
In objecting to proposed international control of Manchuria, he asked,
"Would the American people agree to such control of the Panama Canal Zone; would the British permit it over Egypt? The Japanese people will oppose any such attempt in Manchuria. I beg of this body to realize the facts and see a vision of the future. I earnestly beg of you to deal with us on our terms, to give us your confidence."
After the assembly voter had been taken, Matsuoka announced "the Japanese government is obliged to feel that hey have now reached the limit of their endeavors to co-operate with the league regarding Sino-Japanese differences."
"Japan, however, finds it impossible to accept the report adopted by the assembly, and she has taken pains to point out that the recommendations in the report cannot be considered such as would secure peace in that part of the world."
Matsuoka looked very grim and determined when he left the assembly hall after his speech.
"That means the withdrawal of our delegation from the league. We can no longer co-operate on this question."
Matsuoka, his chief assistants, and the Japanese attaches immediately left the league building.
1. Way of the Warrior - 1936
2. Courage - 1937
5. Self-control - 1938
9. Benevolence - 1939
12. Frugality - 1940
14. Defiance - 1941
19. Compassion - 1942
22. Superiority - 1943
23. Holy War
24. Shattered Jewels - 1944
25. Imperial Restoration
26. National Spirit - 1945
27. Honorable Wound
28. Innermost Belief
29. Ordered Freedom - 1946
30. Raw Enlightenment
31. Eagle's Nest
32. Unconventional Violence
33. Never Surrendered - 1947
34. Blossoming Land
35. Uncle Death
36. Codename Decisive
37. Two Worlds - 1948
38. Burned Tree
39. Demon Emperor - 1949
40. Divine Order - 1950