Japan's Foreign Policy Essay

1732 words - 7 pages

Examine the reasons why Japan embarked on an aggressive, militaristic foreign policy and assess the extent to which this was successful in the first half of the 20th century.While the roots of Japanese militarism were planted with the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that Japan really embarked upon their aggressive foreign policy and emerged as a new world power. While the five reasons for Japanese militarism all played important roles in its rise, their significance varied throughout the years. The militaristic attitude that was adopted by the Japanese in regard to its foreign policy was successful to a point, winning them control of vast amounts of land and allowing them to emerge as a new world power. Ultimately, however, it ended in disaster, with Japan being forced to surrender and coming out of World War II as an occupied country.Up until 1905, with the end of the Russo-Japanese War, the two most important factors that were motivation the Japanese in their militaristic policy were their aspiration for western-style imperialism and their concerns for their safety and security. Japan wanted to join the western powers, but knew that before this could happen, they needed to modernise and strengthen their military. Despite the fact that Japan had won the Sino-Japanese war in 1894-95, they were still forced to submit to the terms of the Triple Intervention, where France, Germany and Russia demanded that they give up the Liaotung Peninsula in exchange for thirty million taels. Japan, realising that they were still weak and did not measure up to the western powers, increased their military spending. When Japan saw the technological advancement and the power of the western military and navy, they had fears of invasion by a country such as Russia. Yamagata Aritomo promoted a foreign policy of expansionism not for subjugation, but to establish their position and security. In 1902 the Anglo-Japanese Alliance1 was established and Japan was now strong enough to oppose the Russians. Japan knew that without Korea under their power, they were vulnerable to attack, so they began negotiations with Russia to recognise their interest in Korea. However, when Russia refused this, Japan made their expansionist intents clear and the Russo-Japanese War began. After Russia was defeated in this war, Japan had firmly established themselves, and they no longer had concerns for their safety and security, and already saw themselves as something like the western imperialists, so these motivations faded to the background.The militarism continued, but now with two very different reasons at the forefront. Japan had by now, gained the belief that it was ‘destined’ to free the other Asian countries from Western powers, and lead them to strength and wealth. Also, the Western powers were constantly insulting, manipulating and provoking the Japanese, which only fed into their militarist attitude. A combination...

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