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Mains Test Series

History of the World will include events from the 18th century, such as Industrial Revolution and world wars

Q. Japan was a victim of many humiliations, which led to a popular urge for the projection of power that climaxed in the 2nd World War. Do you agree? Explain.

Ans.     Pre-requisites:  

Intro: The formation of modern Japan was a result of its contact with the West. This contact had given it a sense of competition with the West, especially with its military, so that it could be taken seriously in global affairs.

Modernization Process:

  • Politically: The 1889 Constitution created a Western-style government with a prime minister under the Emperor. About 5% of men could vote.
  • Railway: Expansion started in the 1860s.
  • Modern Industry: Such as cotton, arms, etc.
  • Japanese Empire: Expansion into the Islands in the south. Push into the Korean peninsula and into North China & Taiwan in the late 19th
  • After the formation of Modern Japan after the Meiji Restoration, the Western military style was adopted to counter the Western military influence.

Since the days of closed-door policy, Japan has been a proud country that had a great amount of suspicion against foreigners. 

Non-recognition of it being a Global power:

  1. Japan was forced to open its economy to the West: In 1853, American Commodore Matthew Perry led his four ships into the harbour at Tokyo Bay.
  2. No recognition of effort in Boxer Rebellion: In the 8-nation alliance against the Boxer Rebellion in China, Japan provided the most ships and troops. Still, its power was not recognized.
  3. Claim over Korea: Britain Acknowledged the Japanese claim to Korea.

When a similar acknowledgement was asked from Russia, it was refused. Japan attacked Russia in 1904 (Russo-Japanese War) and defeated Russia.

  1. Racial Discrimination: In the Treaty of Versailles, Japan was asked to accept that all nations were equal. This demand was rejected, further humiliating Japan.

Japan wanted to be seen as an equal to the Global powers, and the West had constantly undermined this demand. Eventually, it started a process of Power projection:

Projection of its Power in the 20th Century:  

  1. In World War I, Japan ceased German territories in the Pacific Ocean.
  2. It attacked Manchuria in 1932, after which it was banished from the League of Nations.
  3. In 1937, it annexed Nanjing, and its indiscipline army created a massacre.
  4. After this, the US sanctioned an Oil embargo against Japan. To restore its supply, it had to expand up to the oil-rich South China Sea and beyond.
  5. Pearl Harbor: To ensure a continuous supply of oil, it had to counter the American threat, for which it attacked Pearl Harbour, thus entering World War – II.

Thus, the humiliation caused by the West pushed Japan for its power projection, which led to its participation in World War II. Eventually, it attacked and captured virtually all of Eastern Asia and justified its attacks with the slogan of Asia for Asians.

Conclusion: Yes, the Japanese expansion was pushed by an urge for the projection of its power. A lot of this was due to the continuous undermining of its position. However, no massacre of the innocent public can be justified by the urge to project self-esteem. In the end, this projection of power was morally libel.

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