Japan's Militarism Essay

1705 words - 7 pages

Explain the reasons for the triumph of militarism over democracy in 1920s and 30s Japan.By Basil Razi (IV AWW JDS)During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Japan’s militaristic values grew exponentially stronger. The reasons for this are closely tied to internal problems on the home front. Some of these problems include political manipulation by the last genro, a growing population that was becoming more estranged from the government and the development of the army, including its split into two factions. It was this rising militarism that later pushed Japan into their disastrous war with the Americans.A key cause for the rise in Japanese militarism was the actions of the last genro. In ...view middle of the document...

The population also helped the rise in militarism greatly. No army can function without a group eager to fight. This group in Japan was the farmers. While many were disillusioned with the military after World War One (since it was the democratic nations who won, not Japan), they then rapidly regained and then surpassed their former militaristic views. This was due to the tremendous pressure being put on them: with the population growing at a rate of almost one million per year, it fell to the farmers to feed the nation, as well as to grow products for export (particularly silk) with which to buy rice. This group was hit very hard, several times: firstly when the war boom burst in 1921, then again in the banking crisis. They were hardest hit, however, by the Great Depression, why the value of silk halved. This left many farmers almost destitute, since many used silk as a secondary crop to provide additional income. All of these financial burdens turned the farmers away from the zaibatsu (the big industrial companies) and the government which many saw as representing first and foremost the interests of zaibatsu. Prime Minister Hara’s assassination also helped this disillusionment (since Hara was the first prime minister from among the lower classes), as well as the corruption charges that were leveled against several governments.It was also the growth in population that made the need for more space and raw materials, particularly iron and oil. It was this need that turned the people towards the military, who were seen as the only group capable of gaining Japan the extra resources and space needed to continue as a power, forcing the situation the Manchuria Incident and all that followed in China. When this met with initial success, a wave of militaristic support followed, since the army had managed to almost double the size of Japan. Thanks to propaganda, the army was also seen as a way of ridding Japan of the greedy capitalists and westerners whom many saw as holding back the Meiji Constitution, something that the Japanese regarded with almost a religious dogma as a solution to all their problems as well as forcing the west into recognizing Japanese equality (this became a particular sticking point after Australia blocked the racial equality clause in the treaty of Versailles.At this time the Japanese armed forces were rapidly developing: going from an army that many in the West deemed inferior to the loyal, elite force of the Second World War. Even though the navy was constrained by various treaties such as the one signed at the Washington Conference, it was still regarded as the best in the pacific. The army also had the advantage of having the emperor as their commander-in-chief. Due to this, whatever actions they took could be claimed to be the “Imperial Will” – something which the whole of the pro-monarchist Japan accepted as an excuse for everything. However, as the army developed and grew in power, two factions emerged....

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