Japanese History Essay

1472 words - 6 pages

A nation’s decision to go to war is not one that can be taken lightly. War requires a great deal of sacrifice and more often than not, results in a great deal of pain for an entire nation. For some, the humiliation of defeat may be worse than any physical pain one car endured. As Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War by Akira Iriye shows, Japanese leaders decided that war with the USA was in the best interest of their nation, knowing full well the cost of war. The Japanese leaders` anxiety over the self preservation and self defence of their nation, their anxiety over perceived hostile attitudes from the west, and the importance of making a timely decision on war led them on a path that resulted in war with the USA.
In the 1900`s, Japan had become a major player in world affairs. Their one glaring weakness however, was their lack of natural resources. Japan`s lack of natural resources presented a risk to their self preservation and self defence. Civilians were required “consider substitute food such soybeans” (22) in place of the traditional rice. Steel available for civilian use was “allotted on a priority basis, with the allotment being kept to a minimum” (22) and shipping for civilian use was limited as well. Despite these concessions made by the Japanese civilians, the military had to make concessions of its own to cope with limited resources. Japan had to resort to “take such measures as standardizing and lowering the quality of ships to be built” (21) in order to make resource supply to meet demand. The majority of petroleum products, “the most vital of all energy resources for Japan at that time” (143), were imported into the nation. The Japanese relied heavily on petroleum and they feared that the shortage of petroleum would become so grave “that in two years from now we will have no petroleum for military use. Ships will stop moving.” (38).To combat this problem, Japan sought to expand its territories. Manchuria was taken from China and its resources exploited. Plans were made to “occupy important points in the Netherlands East Indies” for their resources. These occupations were relied upon to provide enough oil to not only meet the shortages but provide excess for reserves (24). These reserves were to be used in wartime to provide self defence for the nation. Essentially, Japan’s existence had become dependent on occupying and taking goods from foreign land. The issue with Japanese territorial gains however, was that some of items from occupied land “would seriously affect the US if their supply is cut off” (23). Not only that, the “continued presence of the US fleet in the Pacific [stood in the way] of Japanese advancement” (171) further into these territories. Japanese leaders knew that they “could not concede where it concerns the self preservation and self defence of their empire” (29), thus leading to war with the USA over control of those territories.
Japan’s status as the sole non-white power in the world was a...

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