Bmc hist unit 2.2_rise of japanese_militarists


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Just as in Europe, Fascism began to spread its influence in the Asia Pacific region. With a foothold in Japan in the late 20s and 30s - Japan's militarists were able to slowly gain political power in a political system that was losing support due to mishandling of economic and social policies. The new politicians from the far Right had all the solutions as they planned the take over of the political system. Their ultimate goal - to see an Imperial Japan with an Empire that would match those of the Western powers. This lecture dwells into how this group of "ultras" slowly gained influence and power.

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Bmc hist unit 2.2_rise of japanese_militarists

  1. 1. Unit 2.2: Authoritarian Regimes in the 20th Century The Rise of Militarists in Japan
  2. 2. Background • Fascist ideas spread around the world in the after the First World War. • Fascism grew more popular than democracy. • Why? Because: – People began to lose confidence in democratic leaders – could not handle the economic problems that came after the Great Depression. – Perceived them to be self-interested and corrupt. • In Japan, Fascist ideas were strongly influenced by its powerful military. • Japanese Army officers were influential and tried to convince civilians that Japanese race had superiority over other Asians
  3. 3. Why were the militarists able to gain power in Japan so easily? • With the growing influence and interest in Fascism as a political philosophy around the world, many leaders and people in Japan began to see it as a workable political system that could solve all of Japan’s ills. Many then became pro-military or were sympathetic to Fascism. • Added to this was the growing weaknesses of the democratic political system in Tokyo (which was viewed as largely inept) and the deteriorating economic situation in the world caused by the Great Depression of 1929. • These reasons and more are further explained in the coming slides.
  4. 4. Limited Power of the Diet • The Diet/Parliament was set up in late 19th century. • Real power however remained in the hands of the Emperor and genro. • The Diet did not have the power to make decisions or policies. The members of the Diet did not even have control over the nation’s budget. • Furthermore the Diet could not control the ministers as they were directly under the control of the Emperor. • Limited power of the Diet made it possible for the military faction to grow unchecked
  5. 5. Corruption of Japanese Democratic politicians • Corruption among the politicians was common during the 1920s. • In order to fund their election campaigns, many democratic leaders turned to zaibatsus, or powerful and wealthy Japanese companies, for sponsorship. • These zaibatsus were able to influence the policies of the government. • Such close ties led to many rumors of corruption within the government. • The Diet was hence unable to gain support of ordinary Japanese due to its negative image and the inability to counter the negative image.
  6. 6. Democratic leaders failed in seeing to the needs of citizens • Japanese democratic leaders at the time could not solve the problems facing Japan at that time. These problems included: – Farmers’ difficult working conditions – Workers difficult working conditions – Growing trade imbalance – Poor handling of the Great Depression
  7. 7. • Less than half of the farmers had less than one and one quarter acres of land. • Most of the land belonged to landlords who rented out the land at exorbitant prices. • Between 1920 and 1929, rice prices fell sharply, further reducing farmers’ earnings. • Disputes between tenant farmers and landlords were common throughout the 1930s. These further reduced the confidence of the citizens towards the Japanese politicians and drove them to support the militarists. Farmers’ difficult living conditions
  8. 8. 8 • The workers in Japan were unhappy with the democratic government for lack of improvement in their working and living conditions. • Workers lived in crowded, miserable conditions. • Many joined trade unions, some of which were supported by Communists. • Frequent strikes were common. • Such activities affected the government’s stability. As many workers were dissatisfied with the conditions and felt that the democratic politicians were not doing enough to solve their problems The workers’ difficult working conditions
  9. 9. • While Japan’s economy was growing, there was a trade imbalance. • Japan’s exports were electrical products, porcelain and textiles. • However Japan needed many raw materials for their major industries such as iron and coal. In addition it needed petrol to power these heavy industries. • Most of the raw materials had to be imported. • The trade imbalance grew further when Japan had to import more food to feed its growing population. Trade imbalance
  10. 10. • The Wall Street Crash in the USA led to a world wide economic depression. • It generated a fall in Japan’s exports as countries in the west began to practice protectionism (especially in the USA). • Due to protectionism, countries such as the USA imposed high taxes on Japanese goods like silk. • This led to a fall in demand for silk. Silk farmers in Japan suffered the most. • As economic problems mounted, many farmers joined the Army or patriotic societies. Great Depression 1929
  11. 11. The rise of Fascism in Japan – the factors • As the military gained in influence, they began to strongly influence the leaders in Japan especially in the area of foreign policy. • This change in policy and approach was fuelled by the following internal and external factors…
  12. 12. • Since 1853, American businesses and entrepreneurs began to get interested in doing business in the Asia-Pacific region. • The USA took control of many islands in the area and used them as bases for American trading ships. • In addition, by 1930s American economic influence in the Asia-Pacific area had spread to the Philippines. • Japanese militarists were of the view that economic and military interests of Japan would be slowed down with the American presence – this meant that they would need to gain control this region before this happened. American expansion in Asia-Pacific
  13. 13. • Japan had fought alongside the Allies during World War I. • During the Paris Peace Conference, Japanese representatives made a request that the League of Nations formally recognize that all races were equal. • This proposal was however rejected making Japan feel discriminated. They realized that the interests of the white powers would always prevail and that Japan had to stay strong and Rejection after the Paris Peace Conference, 1919
  14. 14. • This was a disarmament conference that was held between 1921 and 1922. • The Conference was aimed at specifically reducing naval forces of major naval powers which by then also included Japan. • During the conference, it was agreed that the ratio of warships that were allowed for Japan would be lower than that of the USA and Britain. • Japanese delegates at the conference accepted this ratio, however many Japanese in Japan felt that this was an unfair treaty aiming at restricting Japanese military power. This weakened support for democratic leaders and enabled the militarists to gain power and influence in decision-making. Washington Naval Conference, 1921-22
  15. 15. • This was a second conference held in 1930. • Many Japanese were unhappy that PM Hamaguchi Osachi agreed to further limit the number of Japan’s battleships as he wanted to improve ties with China. • In addition to that, he tried to solve the problems of the Great Depression by reducing spending on the Army. • He was accused of being too soft and trying to betray Japan. This further strengthen the hand of the militarists in government and led them to further push for greater control. London Disarmament Conference
  16. 16. • In 1924, the USA tried to prevent Asian immigration as part of its isolationist and protectionist policies. • Asian immigrants could not become citizens even if they had stayed in the USA for a long time. • In California, the California Alien Law ordered that all Asian children attend schools separate from the Americans. • Such laws angered the Japanese who formed the main bulk of the immigrants. • They saw such laws as regarding them as being inferior. • This combined with other factors such as the Great Depression, made many Japanese turn away from democracy. Anti-Japanese immigration laws in US
  17. 17. • Since 1894, China had been weakened by many internal struggles. • This however changed in 1927 when the KMT and CCP formed an alliance to eliminate all internal enemies like the Chinese warlords. • General Chiang gained control of China and demanded an end to all concessions that foreign powers had enjoyed in China. • Frequent strikes and boycotts of Japanese goods hurt Japan’s economy. • The Kwantung Army stationed in Manchuria proposed that Japan occupy Manchuria and North China before anti-Japanese feelings became too strong. This was supported by many Japanese. Chinese nationalism
  18. 18. • From the 1930s, the education system of Japan emphasized nationalism, loyalty to the Emperor, self-sacrifice and obedience. • Japan’s response to the Great Depression and foreign opposition to Japan’s growing empire was the inauguration of the Showa Restoration. • This movement set up the following principles: – Characterized all things Western in a negative light and – Stressed the glorification of the Emperor. • This movement produced youths who were blindly loyal to the nation. They were taught that the militarist approach was the way to secure Japan’s future. This further strengthened Japan’s militarists. The Showa Restoration
  19. 19. • Arising out of the Showa Restoration, came the establishment of patriotic societies had been growing since the 1920s in Japan. • Many of them had close connections with the Army. • They were extremely nationalistic and wanted Japan to adopt an aggressive foreign policy. • Some of the more militant societies such as the Black Dragon Society wanted to eliminate democratic leaders – this would ensure that that Japan would adopt a more aggressive foreign policy. Patriotic societies
  20. 20. • The Army and Navy had great influence over the government. • Since the late 19th century, they had been pressing the government to build a Japanese Empire that would be made up of colonies – just as the Western powers had done and were doing. • Military successes in Manchuria and parts of China made them even more ambitious to pursue an expansionist policy. • Leaders who did not support the military ambitions were often the subjects of assassination attempts. Military’s influence over the government
  21. 21. • 1894–1895 : Sino-Japanese War. Japan gained Taiwan and parts of the Liaodung Peninsula. • 1904–1905 : Russo-Japanese War. Japan was the first Asian power to defeat an European power. • 1905 : Japan gain rights to build a railway in Manchuria. It also gained the southern Sakhalin Island. • 1910 : Japan gained full control of Korea. • 1914 : Japan joined the Allies in World War I and occupied German territories in Shantung and parts of the Pacific Islands. • 1915 : Japan issued 21 Demands on China. Military’s influence over the government
  22. 22. • In 1930, the Army brought down Hamaguchi’s government. He was shot and wounded. He died a year later of the wounds. • Hamaguchi’s assassins were left off with a light jail sentence. • In May 1932, the Army assassinated PM Inukai for criticizing the Kwantung Army’s actions in Manchuria. • Succeeding PMs either felt pressured to support the Kwantung Army or were already strong supporters themselves especially after the Mukden Incident in 1932. Eventual Military takeover of Japan
  23. 23. Aftermath • Once the Japanese military was allowed to gain further influence in the government the way was clear for an increasingly: – militaristic approach to decision making – aggressive foreign policy • End of Chapter – now see the causes of War in Asia Pacific…make links and connections…