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UNIT 22: Global War and Peace

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VIDEO SEGMENT: The Rise of Japan as a Military and Imperial Power

This segment examines the consequences of the particular way Japan rose as an imperial power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By 1910, Japan had become an industrial power on the Western model, had won wars with both China and Russia, and had taken control of Taiwan, Manchuria, and Korea. After World War I, Japan also won control over China's Shandong Peninsula in compensation for its alliance with Britain during the war.

In spite of Japan's military and imperial powers, however, Western nations did not treat the country as a member of the "white men's club." Such humiliating treatment, when added to the extreme economic distress caused by the Great Depression in the 1930s, allowed right-wing militarists to gain power in Japan. They argued that Western restrictions on Japan were forcing it to expand its territories in order to survive. In 1931, Japanese forces invaded Manchuria, and in 1937, China.

When World War II broke out in Europe, Japan used the opportunity to invade European colonial territories. Japan framed its invasions in terms of liberating fellow Asians from Western domination. In some cases, the Japanese were initially welcomed. When Japan invaded Singapore, for example, they convinced 25,000 Indian soldiers to turn against their British commanders and fight instead for Japan. However, Japanese rule in these areas turned out to be just as harsh as European rule had been. In fact, Japanese rhetoric about liberation disguised much more self-serving interests concerning access to resources and labor — a deception that still complicates easy distinctions between imperialism, exploitation, and liberation.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Anonymous, JAPANESE BATTLESHIPS WIN A SEA BATTLE IN THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR (1894). Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Anonymous Japanese, EMPEROR HIROHITO OF JAPAN IS ENTHRONED (1928 CE). Courtesy of Library of Congress.


Underwood and Underwood, JAPANESE SOLDIERS SCOUTING FOR RUSSIAN CAVALRY IN RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR (1906). Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Anonymous Russian, COSSACKS AND THE JAPANESE (1904). Courtesy of The British Library.



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