Why Japan Went To War In The Pacific Background Essay

On December 7/8, 1941, Japan started the Pacific Battle. When deciding to income war, the countrywide strength of the would-be aggressor and its own target(s) must be analysed carefully. Considering the industrial production features of Japan and the U. S. , you can only conclude that heading to conflict would be utter folly. Yet Japan still have so, hoping to quell monetary insecurity and realise imperialistic ambitions by establishing an autarkic empire.

Historians of this era generally attribute Japan's monetary insecurity to too little natural resources, a growth in protectionism and an increasing population. However, it could be argued that the armed forces build-up created an manufactured scarcity of natural resources with the surge popular for warfare goods from resource-guzzling heavy industries. Additionally, the mainly international supply of natural resources was still enough before total embargo following Japan's takeover of Indochina. The perfect solution is then, was to secure these goods by conquest of Southeast Asia. Emigration of Japanese to conquered territories had not been only to minimize the burgeoning populace also for colonisation purposes.

When evaluating at Japan's imperial ambitions, it is crucial to see how a lot of the nation was swept up into territorial expansionism in any way levels; in the military and society, and how the civilian federal was influenced into sanctioning the battle. It is also essential to understand how Japan thought alienated from the international community by racist overtures, specifically from Allied nations, undermining what Japan thought were rightful and cardinal pursuits.

Thus, it could be seen that these reasons for Japan to attempt its Pacific Campaign were created by external and internal get-togethers, some with the objective of insinuating expansionism and hostility. As a result, this paper seeks to clarify the underlying factors behind these reasons discovered as the following: international racism, nationalism, the triumph of armed forces supremacy over civilian expert and the prevalent reputation of the Nanshin-ron (Southern Extension Doctrine). Specifically, we assert that the occurrence of a strong armed service with control over the civilian authorities was the key cause behind the ignition of the Pacific Battle.

Racial Discrimination from the West

The road to conflict in the Pacific arguably has its root base in racism from the Western world. Distinction of contest, especially between Asian and European races, became a significant rationale for acknowledgement of countrywide power and status. Japan acquired known for a long time, since Commodore Perry's gunboat diplomacy, about the gross electric power disparity between itself and the U. S. which continued to develop. In 1941, Major Kametaro Tominaga of the Conflict Ministry's Press Bureau delivered a speech proclaiming that the Manchurian Occurrence and the China Affair were contest wars to liberate Oriental races from oppression by the Western world. Thus, it can be seen that racism experienced a component in guiding the decision to begin equipped conflict.

Japan's Makes an attempt at Legislating Racial Equality are Rebuffed

Having no peer then, Japan searched for to gain acknowledgement as a great vitality and equivalent from the Western world to allay its thoughts of insecurity. This desire to be seen and cured as an equal by the Western manifested itself in work to get assurances in legislation from the primary international body of the time: the Category of Countries. Two serious efforts to do this failed however. The first was Japan's proposal to the Category in 1911 requesting that there should be no discrimination based on race or nationality in legislations which was not transferred. Later that yr, Japan suggested a racial equality amendment to the League's covenant and found with the same result. Japan's persistent efforts to acquire assurances of racial equality from the Western weren't reciprocated and racism perpetuated over a national scale subsequently inspired treatment of Japanese immigrants in the U. S.

Racial Discrimination towards Japanese Immigrants

Anti-Japanese attitudes in the American Western Seacoast were further inspired by an anti-Japanese campaign in 1905 and the passage of the Californian Alien Land Rules in 1913 which restricted Japanese 'aliens' from purchasing and leasing land. The 1924 Immigration Function that tagged Japanese immigrants as undesirable only served to aggravate the situation. These actions arguably raised the probability of battle in the Pacific as Japan would be less likely to acquiesce to U. S. requirements given such humiliating treatment. It also augmented the view that the U. S. was ready to forfeit relationships with Japan to protect racial superiority and European hegemony.

Racism in Preferential National Treatment

Japan violated the Open up Door Policy, where various power agreed to reveal usage of China and that none should take control, when it took over Southern Manchuria after its triumph in the 1905 Russo-Japanese Battle. This Insurance policy was used to apply pressure on Japan however, not on Britain and France to withdraw of their colonies. This was seen to be grossly racist as Japan was not deemed worthy to have colonies despite having proven its armed service capacities and having helped the Allies in World War I.

The Washington Naval Treaty that emerged immediately after was regarded as a malicious effort to blunt Japanese naval growth. The treaty limited each signatory's total tonnage of capital boats, but what's noteworthy is the percentage of 5:5:3 between the U. S. , Britain and Japan. Constraints were further expanded in the 1930 London Naval Convention where Japan needed to adhere to a 10:6 ratio; while on the Japan aspect, it was noticed a 10:7 percentage was the minimum required for countrywide security. This enforced restriction by the West was more likely to forestall Japan from growing its sphere of effect but it was seen as an action of racial discrimination in Japan which infuriated its leaders and the armed forces.

Racism - An Underestimated Factor

Persisting traditional racial hierarchal mindsets despite Japanese accomplishments and successes on monetary and armed forces fronts led to acts viewed as discriminatory by many Japanese leaders, both civilian and military. This standard antagonistic sentiment in leadership would greatly lower the propensity to attain any settlement with the U. S. and would be projected to the overall populace to get support for the warfare later on by behaving as a champ for the liberation of Asia.

Nationalism - Being successful over the Masses

While international racism was a key external element in propagating imperialistic notions in Japan, it is just one part of the story. To quote Social Darwinist Herbert Spencer's doctrine, before the world could achieve a stage of industrialized and enlightened civilization, it must engage in a militant selection process that guaranteed survival to the fittest races and nations. Darwinist ethics first became popularised in the Meiji era with the thought of survival of the fittest creating the countrywide mentality that Japan was either the colonial professional or the oppressed colony, in doing so providing a logical justification for expansionism and creating the foundations for Japanese nationalism.

The Paradigm Shifts of Nationalism

Japan's national outlook evolved from one of fearful apprehension in the Meiji period compared to that of self confidence and control in the Taisho era and required a nosedive once again when the Great Depression struck in 1929. The monetary crisis was further compounded by protectionist measures by Western countries leading to a growth in jingoism. Nationalism manifested itself in this period in public demands better financial conditions and labour strikes owing to stark circumstances with rising inflation, popular unemployment and personal bankruptcy of small businesses.

Politicians took the majority of the blame because of the inefficacy to implement effective procedures to remedy the matter. The majority of the inhabitants was so disillusioned with the government that they were willing to listen to any company with a half-reliable solution. Many intellectuals, being disconcerted with the situation in Japan then, started out advocating iconoclastic ideologies which resulted in two intrinsic kinds of nationalism.

The Country wide Reconstruction Plan

Of the two, one was less reactionary and comprised mainly a national reconstruction plan that searched for to control discontent and protect basic societal areas of Japan. The plan was first proposed by Ikki Kita, a member of the African american Dragon Modern culture, and soon gained much approbation from the general populace due to the potency of open public outreach campaigns, owing to the assistance of influential nationalist societies and sympathetic individuals. Noteworthy examples will be the Heavenly Swords society as well as Zei Nishida who helped tout the rules of the plan within the armed forces.

The Genesis of Ultra-nationalism

The second form of nationalism followed a far more fundamentalist route into ultra-nationalism. The 1932 assassination of Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai, who was seen as anti-military, by customers of the Emperor Jimmu World resulted in session of militarist successors who took proactive steps to propel ultra-nationalism. One prominent example is the religious mobilization program for Japan that utilised political, religious and educational corporations as well as all channels of communication and entertainment advertising to distributed nationalistic propaganda throughout the nation. Each ministry got its own brains bureau and every prefecture got a central information bureau responsible for the gathering, appraisal, and dispersion of most information within and without of Japan, thus creating a comprehensive information network under small governmental control.

All publicly registered organizations were strong-armed into building a single body to aid the directing of the peoples' thoughts and behaviour. The government set guidelines for the multimedia and a variety of art forms and used various avenues for indoctrination purposes. These goes were validated by the government on grounds of uniting all members of the country in one nature and promote loan consolidation of their religious life. Flexibility of speech was also greatly restricted with heavy censorship of movie videos, newspapers and radio programs by the information bureau.

An Appraisal of Japanese Nationalism

Japanese nationalism started producing since modernization and simmered until the Great Depressive disorder, where widespread monetary hardship gave climb to radical thought. Expansionism and the projection of ability beyond Japanese edges to safeguard nationwide interests gained more sway. Incursion into individuals' lives allowed the country's leaders to incorporate the populace into a essentially homogeneous entity by guiding general public opinion and weeding out dissident elements. The permeation of ultra-nationalism into Japanese contemporary society avoided less hardline results from taking command and additional embittered Japan-U. S. relationships. The succeeding section can look at how expansionism and armed service rule took main before the Pacific Battle.

The Triumph of Government Supremacy over Civilian Authority

About a decade before fascist Japan would attempt its Pacific Advertising campaign, it was undergoing rather liberal tendencies through the Taisho period. What is important here's that the institutional framework of the state of hawaii, the Meiji Constitution, continued to be typically unchanged throughout these durations. As such, the cause of this drastic transition can be argued to be the socio-economic and expert changes in Japan.

Problems of the Politics Celebrations in the Taisho Period

While political celebrations represented most communal groups, the zaibatsu were the people' main backers, due to ties with the Meiji oligarchs. Politics then was just pandering to whichever faction or course held most effect and bearing. The Taisho period was one of monetary prosperity and serenity, producing a growing middle income, who with the zaibatsu saw the armed forces as an unneeded money sink. Thus, political get-togethers executed anti-military procedures such as reducing military spending, and consequently lowering taxes to charm to the general populace.

Extremism of Young Officers

Examples of such regulations would be the Yamanashi and Ugaki disarmaments in 1922 and 1925 respectively which demolished many young officers' jobs and futures through personnel reduction, fostering enmity towards civilian government that it had become viewed as an anathema amongst the young officials.

Consolidation of Administration under Navy Leadership

With the fantastic Depression, the troubled but nonetheless growing economy went into free-fall. In these tumultuous times, the navy was regarded as a champion by various communal groups. Towards the peasants, they offered land in Manchuria. To the middle class, they were seen as a viable option to the corrupt and unrepresentative politics parties. And for the zaibatsu, linking up with the army was logical, as the military services gained more politics clout and became a significant patron of the heavy market sectors the zaibatsu were shifting concentration towards.

Active methods were also used by the military to undermine the civilian administration. Senior officers led by Kanji Ishiwara in the Toseiha (The Imperial Way Faction) permitted a rebellion, known later as the Feb 26 Occurrence, by the rival Kodoha (Control Faction), made up primarily of younger officers, to take place. This allowed them to establish their dominance in the military by suppressing the rebellion and command an excellent position vis- -vis the federal government. The army, greatly influenced by German fascism, pushed for one-party guideline resulting in the Taisei Yokusankai (the Imperial Guideline Assistance Connection). In the long run, most lawmakers remaining their parties to retain any remaining politics leverage they could under this effort.

Expansionism Wins - Impact of Young Officers

Once in ability, Ishiwara forced for non-expansionism in favour of long-term home development to prepare for war contrary to the U. S. and the Soviet Union. However, such attempts were rendered obsolete by the success of Ishiwara's own machinations in Manchuria previously and the carrying on spread of extremism in the armed service.

For instigating the Mukden Occurrence, not only was Ishiwara not punished for initiating military action without sanction, he and other co-conspirators were promoted and decorated, arranging a precedent for and popularising gekokujo, a Japanese term discussing works of insubordination and disobedience of more youthful officers. The get spread around of extremism was not stemmed following the February 26 Occurrence as some members weren't punished and delivered to the frontlines where they could follow their extremist ideals.

Evaluation of the Establishment of Military services Dominance

Failure by the politics get-togethers to enact constitutional changes paved just how for the armed service to abuse the machine to gain political influence. Once the military was at power, individual radical behaviour overran national logical strategies as there is no chance for the military services to stop subversive elements within itself when the civilian federal had failed earlier. A similar motion happened in the navy, providing rise to two distinct extremist divisions in the armed forces with expansionist goals. The next section will look at how the Nanshin-ron's popularity came into being with the influence of the navy among other factors.

The Prevalent Popularity of the Nanshin-ron

The attractiveness of the Nanshin-ron is another momentous cause for beginning armed turmoil in the Pacific. Its inception started out in the 1900s with strong discourse on the diverging ideas of Hokushu Nanshin (north defense and southern advance) and Nanshu Hokushin (southern defense and northern advance) which had become known as the Nanshin-ron and the Hokushin-ron (Northern Expansion Doctrine) which triumphed in almost all support of the Imperial Japan Army (IJA) and Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) respectively.

IJN Go up to Ascendancy

The IJA possessed already been sacrificing its dominion as it was unable to get out of the quagmire created by the 1937 Sino-Japanese Conflict. The IJN were then able to attain ascendancy in the military allowing it to gain sway over nationwide decisions following a Nomonhan Incident where IJA offensives from the USSR yielded dire losses with no territorial gains resulting in great lack of standing up for the IJA and its own leaders. This led to the putting your signature on of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact which helped generate the Nazi-Soviet Pact that further weakened grounds for the IJA's Hokushin-ron.

Allure of Economic Security

Japan's interest in the south was also sparked by territorial increases in the Pacific from the job of previous German colonies after its participation in World War I. Japan got established regional supremacy following its triumph in the Russo-Japanese Conflict. However, it lacked raw materials in its controlled territories, especially essential oil which was paramount for Japan's market. Large reliance on U. S. oil imports created a problem for Japan when the essential oil embargo was enforced which led Japan to covet the oil-rich Dutch East Indies.

Expansionism and Progression into Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Expansionism also drove Japan to look south. Japan noticed that the win in the Russo-Japanese warfare was meaningless as the South Seas was still controlled by the Western world and commenced increasing its occurrence in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region by promoting and establishing free trade. The essential oil embargo enforced by the U. S. described earlier significantly inhibited Japan's ability to mount long-term military functions in even one route let alone two. By then, the IJN experienced already proven its dominance in national decisions and directed arrangements for southern offensives after obtaining the Manchukuo boundary with the Soviet-Japanese Pact.

Another encouraging factor is the opportunity to use the Micronesian archipelago as 'unsinkable aircraft carriers' to guard Japan contrary to the inescapable counter-offensive from the U. S. This is fortified by the increasing importance of aviation in warfare then.

Integrality of Southeast Asia and the Pacific to Japan

The popularity of the Nanshin-ron came into being as a result of the potential clients for further economical development and attaining financial security from the conquest of Southeast Asia which would provide much needed commodities as well as market segments for Japanese exports. Projects into Southeast Asia actualized these potential customers with copious profits especially for the transport and manufacturing establishments and creating entrepreneurship opportunities including the rewarding plantations in Malaya and Indonesia. The southern natural resource bounties eventually became seen as a lifeline following the U. S. embargo. Along with the Japan-Soviet neutrality pact taking away Siberia from the equation, it was almost certain that Japan would have to move south without acceding to U. S. demands to extricate itself from China.


Looking at the factors discussed, it is clear that were intricately linked. A desire for acknowledgement by the Western as a great vitality and an equal due to a national inferiority complex going out with back again to the Meiji age provided the base for imperialistic ambitions. Denial of the recognition as well as real and identified anti-Japanese actions by the Western world served to fan the flames of nationalism used to galvanise the country. Its fledgling economy was extremely vulnerable to supply and demand shocks, making Southeast Asia with its large market segments and huge resources very advisable, propelling the Nanshin-ron's acceptance.

Nevertheless, all of this may not have come into play if not for expansionist military market leaders' subjugation of the government. The financial capital for exorbitant military services procurement which required the drastic commercial shift travelling the demand for goods was acquired through subversion of civilian expert where quickly ballooning military costs, swelling to 2 billion yen in the 72nd Diet session, were passed unopposed.

During war businesses planning, reports on Japan's national strength and functional outcomes were shown by the Naval Standard Staff's Businesses Bureau and the Cabinet Planning Board in a way to make battle with the U. S. appear viable. Furthermore, it could be contended that Fumimaro Konoe, Best Minister in the time preceding the Pacific Conflict, could have anchored a peace pay out with the U. S. if not for then Conflict Minister, Hideki Tojo's complete refusal to withdraw troops from China. This resulted in a break down in negotiations as the U. S. possessed dictated in the Hull remember that Japan was to withdraw all forces from China and Indochina.

Hence, it is clear that while all factors reviewed played a role in creating conditions instrumental to equipped aggression, expansionist armed service dominance over nationwide decision making was what eventually culminated in Japan starting the Pacific Warfare.

Will Japan ever Wage another Battle?

Looking at the present, Japan's status is currently built on its economical, financial and scientific superiority, of which the first two are being eroded by economical stagnation without end in look. Bilateral relationships with most Asia-Pacific countries have been largely normalised. Nevertheless, a complete repertoire of territorial sticklers along with periodic controversy on background revisionism and standard pilgrimages to the Yasukuni shrine threaten delicate ties with former foes and colonies. Of these, the most contentious are those with North Korea and China, layed out in the 1997 Defence White Paper as Japan's main security threats.

While large-scale militarisation seems highly unlikely given Article 9 of japan constitution, it is not impossible. Drawback of the U. S. security umbrella, a cornerstone of the Yoshida doctrine which is constantly on the influence Japanese international policy, may likely result in some military build-up. This would be further exacerbated by the need to protect Japanese interests and keep maintaining regional effect against an extremely assertive China which includes been rapidly lowering the disparity in financial electricity with Japan. However, this might likely evoke reactionary armament procedures from surrounding nations, effectively making a regional arms race.

In light of the, creating reliable Mutual Assured Devastation to render warfare obsolete may be looked at. However, this might escalate tensions exponentially anticipated to close proximity and overlapping spheres of interests. Simmering nationalistic sentiment on all attributes would cause hardline leaders taking helm, straining relationships and impelling armed conflict. Alternatively, leaders must practice diplomacy with prudence and be wary of appearing too pacifist lest they enable radical voices.

To conclude, it is imperative that Japan and the U. S. work together to ensure that the civilian power is not undermined and conditions favourable for militarism to gain acceptance do not happen to prevent any future Japanese armed aggression.

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