World War I: Japan's ill-fated 'gift from the heavens'

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  • -5

    CrisGerSan

    This is a rather bombastic and sensationalized article, that does not show much careful and impartial research. It tries to make the position that Japan was somehow BAD for expanding as every other European Power had, and saying that the war was unwinable is a fallacy on face value. No war is unwinable, but someone always loses, often all sides lose in ways they don't realize at the time. If you look at Europe of today and Asia of today, Germany and Japan emerged two of the strongest and most respected world powers and England, France, Italy, and the US are declining day by day in many many ways.

    by the way that German colony in China was called Tsingtau, that was its real and official name, please do NOT allow chinese attempts to change history and re write geography to corrupt accurate history.

  • -1

    turbotsat

    Why couldn't Japan be BAD for invading China? Immune to criticism? It doesn't say the other European Powers were NOT bad.

    Germany and Japan flourishing now because the Allies helped them out after the war. Allies could have stomped any efforts the Axis made to rebuild after the war. Turned them into farmers, permanently. If not for Russia looming on both fronts, against which they needed new allies.

  • 0

    China Dragon

    I think this article have a true landscape of the history, we should learn lessons from history.

  • 1

    OssanAmerica

    According to China the Germans probably never held Tsingtao. But the Japanese invaded China anyway.

  • 2

    gaijinfo

    bolstered by forces from its British alliance.

    The often mentioned fact about a significant portion of pre-WWI success (including vs. Russia)

    By 1918, gross national product had tripled in just six years, and 30 percent of the budget was driven by exports.

    Again, this was only made possible by industrial revolution mass production, imported from Britain, as well as plenty of money printing

    Rapid inflation took hold with rice prices tripling between 1916 and 1920

    A natural outcome of money printing (bringing those GDP numbers into question: nominal or real?)

    That sowed the seeds for greater militarism

    A significant factor was that the military, largely paid for with this printed money (not backed by natural economic expansion) was in serious danger as the government wanted to reduce money supply (raise interest rates) and "cool off" the economy, which basically meant no more money for the military.

    a war that it could not win

    Because Japan was fighting with borrowed technology, printed money and invading lands that were scarcely protected.

    Sadly, many Japanese leaders KNEW they couldn't win and were silenced.

  • -5

    jerseyboy

    Pardon me if I don't feel sorry for Japan. Basically they opportunistically entered into WWI so they could seize territory, msiplayed their hand on the international stage, which caused severe domestic issues, and then lost WWII as a result. All in the span of less than 40 years. Guess they didn't make the most of their "gift from the heavens"

  • -9

    smithinjapan

    CrisGerSan: "It tries to make the position that Japan was somehow BAD for expanding as every other European Power..."

    No, of course they weren't bad for invading another nation and murdering its people. They were GOOD for doing it, no? Wasn't Japan's fault! They were the VICTIMS in the siege of Qingdao!

  • 1

    Nenad Jovanović

    Again, people forget how the world in that time looked, and how majority of Asia in that time were under colonial rules of western countries, and China, totally incompetent to deal with them , so, Japan only solution is to make it self Asian power .

  • 5

    JeffLee

    "Germany and Japan emerged two of the strongest and most respected world powers, England, France, Italy, and the US are declining day by day in many many ways."

    What planet do you live on? Japan's economy has stagnated since 1995. Japan stop being a model or inspiration for Asia long ago.

    Meanwhile, Britain's economy has more than doubled in size in the same period.

  • -3

    China Dragon

    The lessons for China: if you reject to reform, reject to catch up the world, you will be defeated, conquered by other advance countries.

    The lessons for Japan, you should know the limits of your power, your military victory is built on the chaos of the world, if Japan empire were just dedicated on China, or Manchuria only, I think Japanese could be the next Mongol.

  • 3

    LeChatBotte

    Nenad Jovanović

    Again, people forget how the world in that time looked, and how majority of Asia in that time were under colonial rules of western countries, and China, totally incompetent to deal with them , so, Japan only solution is to make it self Asian power

    Very good point. Not only was China totally incompetent, it was divided in concessions by western powers. The rest of Asia was already colonized. Japan was probably the only non-western power to not only not have been colonized but to have been able to stand on equal footing with them. The only way to stay that way and survive was to become stronger.

    Absolutes like "good" or "bad" only exist in childrens books and communist propaganda.

  • -7

    Frungy

    And now Japan's economy is flagging again and we are seeing restrictions on freedom of expression (the new secrecy laws) and Japan arming up for another war.

    Of course the USA has been using war, rape and murder to boost its economy for the last 70 years, so Japan is still a saint by comparison... Still, comparisons aren't the best way to decide what is right.

  • 0

    BurakuminDes

    Interesting period in history, so many millions of Japanese peasants benefited from the war-driven rapid industrialisation. Many areas in Japan were getting Western technology such as electricity, street lights and flushing toilets for the first time. The war-hungry militarists were the old men making much the cash, though - similar to todays world!

  • 1

    ViennaSausage2

    Nothing like an article like this to bring the nutters out.

  • -6

    OssanAmerica

    JeffLeeAug. 23, 2014 - 09:29AM JST "Germany and Japan emerged two of the strongest and most respected world powers, England, France, Italy, and the US are declining day by day in many many ways." What planet do you live on? Japan's economy has stagnated since 1995. Japan stop being a model or inspiration for >Asia long ago.

    Japan "stagnated" in he 90s only because they boomed in he 80s. Despite the boom being over for decades Japan still remains the third largest economy in the world. I hope you don't think that fascist China or SKorea are the "models and inspirations" of Asia today.

  • 1

    turbotsat

    Nenad Jovanović: Again, people forget how the world in that time looked, and how majority of Asia in that time were under colonial rules of western countries, and China, totally incompetent to deal with them , so, Japan only solution is to make it self Asian power .

    Someone's been copying down the display text at the Yūshūkan.

    European powers took over some enclaves in China, so Japan's only choice was to invade Korea and Manchuria? Gotta keep up with the Joneses?

  • 1

    LeChatBotte

    European powers took over some enclaves in China

    And the same people go complaining about "revisionism" from Japan? Check out what the Chinese consider the start of the "century of humiliation". And yes, it includes contributions from Japan too...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_of_humiliation

    Other major events often cited as part of the "century of humiliation" are the unequal treaties of Whampoa and Aigun, the Taiping Rebellion, the Second Opium War and the sacking of the Old Summer Palace, the Sino-French War, the First Sino-Japanese War, the British invasion of Tibet,[5] the Twenty-One Demands by Japan, and the Second Sino-Japanese War. In this period, China lost all the wars it fought, often forced to give major concessions to the great powers in the subsequent treaties.[6]

    Oh and yeah, a few "enclaves" in South East Asia too. Nothing to be concerned about, right?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Southeast_Asia#European_colonization

    From the end of the 1850s onwards, while the attention of the United States shifted to maintaining their union, the pace of European colonization shifted to a significantly higher gear. This phenomenon, denoted New Imperialism, saw the conquest of nearly all Southeast Asian territories by the colonial powers

  • 0

    turbotsat

    LeChatBotte: And the same people go complaining about "revisionism" from Japan? Check out what the Chinese consider the start of the "century of humiliation". And yes, it includes contributions from Japan too...

    Again, that's your excuse for Japan's excuse for invading Korea and China? Euros are doing it, we gotta get in on the action? Nenad J. said "Japan only solution is to make it self Asian power" :O!

  • 1

    LeChatBotte

    turbostat

    You're making assumptions and jumping to conclusions. No one is excusing anything.

    If you look at a map, you will see why Japan tried to secure Korea. There's also the question of resources.

    And it's not about "Euros are doing it", it's about being the only remaining country in Asia to not have been colonized and to first try and stay that way. And yes, if they had only tried to stay that way, they wouldn't have met the fate they did in WWII

  • -2

    Yubaru

    —a war that it could not win.

    Be happy that Japan was greedy and pushed beyond it's limits, which in effect became it's down fall. If Japan would have stopped advancing and been satisfied to keep what it had the world could have very well looked very different after WWII.

  • 0

    slowguy2

    Forget the excuses, the apologisms and the beautification, nobody believes it anyway. The bottom line is, Japan conceived an inflated opinion of itself, bit off way more than it could chew, and got slapped down. That's it.

  • 1

    BluesRee

    Don't think Thailand was ever colonized by Europeans.

  • -1

    SamuraiBlue

    The reason why Japan entered WW1 in the first place?

    It was to re-nagotiate the various unfair treaties that the Edo Shogunate were forced to sign during the opening of Japan some 70 years prior. Japan was promised that all treaties will be renogotiated if Japan enters the war against Germany.

  • 2

    smig1975

    interesting & good article (don't know why the bickering above) until the nonsense throw away statement of "twin threats of communism & pacifism" blimey . i can think of bigger threats than pacifism !

  • -3

    smithinjapan

    Ossan: "I hope you don't think that fascist China or SKorea are the "models and inspirations" of Asia today."

    Who said they are? Doesn't mean Japan is not, and as for being third economy in the world, I still recall you guys saying it would not happen before they slipped to China, and you probably still doubt Japan will be fourth before too long.

  • -2

    Frungy

    turbotsatAug. 23, 2014 - 01:13PM JST Again, that's your excuse for Japan's excuse for invading Korea and China? Euros are doing it, we gotta get in on the action? Nenad J. said "Japan only solution is to make it self Asian power" :O!

    Euros... and the USA, on which occasion the USA was criticised by the French and Brits for wide-spread rapes by the U.S. troops because the U.S. neglected to bring their own prostitutes (as was the custom at that time to prevent civilians being harassed).

    How quickly people forget that the U.S. was attempting their own conquest of China at the time too, in both the first and second Opium wars.

  • 2

    OssanAmerica

    turbotsatAug. 23, 2014 - 01:13PM JST "LeChatBotte: And the same people go complaining about "revisionism" from Japan? Check out what the Chinese consider the start of the "century of humiliation". And yes, it includes contributions from Japan too..."

    Again, that's your excuse for Japan's excuse for invading Korea and China? Euros are doing it, we gotta get in on the >action? Nenad J. said "Japan only solution is to make it self Asian power" :O!

    Japan didn't "invade" Korea. It was annexed in 1910 with NO WAR between Japan and Korea. Koreans were serving in the Japanese military invading China after 1931,

  • 0

    decibel

    Those small victories actually gave the military rulers at that time (1895-1945) a false sense of military power superiority. The military rulers thought it could take over entire China in a few weeks but China was too big to swallow. That dragged on for 8 years (1937-1945). Even worse, it turned its gun on US by attacking Pearl Harbor. The whole point was the rulers grossly over-estimated its military power and its sustainability in the war. At the end of WW2 in 1945, the men to women ratio in Japan was only 1:9.

  • -1

    SamuraiBlue

    decibel

    Selective amnesia?

    You're forgetting the fact that all European nations AND colonies adopted extreme protectionism policies strangleholding both Japan's import as well as export. On top they placed an embargo stopping the lifeline of Japan. It was a matter of push became to a shove to a punch.

  • -4

    jerseyboy

    Japan didn't "invade" Korea. It was annexed in 1910 with NO WAR between Japan and Korea. Koreans were serving in the Japanese military invading China after 1931,

    Ossan -- please stop the semantic games. As you well know, the Treaty of 2010 was a formalization of the Treaty of 2005, which came on the heels of Japan's victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. And was hardly made willingly by Korea:

    Following Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War, with its subsequent withdrawal of Russian influence, and the Taft–Katsura Agreement, in which the United States allegedly agreed not to interfere with Japan in matters concerning Korea, the Japanese government sought to formalize its sphere of influence over the Korean Peninsula.

    Delegates of both Empires met in Seoul to resolve differences in matters pertaining to Korea’s future foreign policy; however, with the Korean Imperial palace under occupation by Japanese troops, and the Imperial Japanese Army stationed at strategic locations throughout Korea, the Korean side was at a distinct disadvantage in the discussions

    Bullying Korea into being "annexed" is hardly something to be proud of.

  • -1

    zichi

    Koreans were serving in the Japanese military invading China after 1931,

    Prior to 1944 very few Korean applications to join the military. 1938-1944 out of more than 800,000 applications only 17,000 were accepted. From 1944, the Japanese introduced military conscription and 200,000 were forced to join.

    5.4 million were conscripted into forced labor with 670,000 transported to mainland Japan with 60,000 dying from their living and working conditions. 43,000 Koreans sent to Sakhalin remained there following the Soviet invasion. Another 30,000 died in the atomic bombings.

  • -4

    jerseyboy

    Japan "stagnated" in he 90s only because they boomed in he 80s. Despite the boom being over for decades Japan still remains the third largest economy in the world.

    Ossan, do you ever let facts get in the way of your opinions? The fact is that the Japanese economy did not "stagnate" -- it crashed:

    The wider economy of Japan is still recovering from the impact of the 1991 crash and subsequent lost decades. It took 12 years for Japan's GDP to recover to the same levels as 1995, and in the interim Japan's economy shrunk below those of France, Germany, Canada and the UK — even when those nations had weak decades themselves.[16] And as a greater sign of economic malaise, Japan also fell behind in output per capita. In 1991, real output per capita in Japan was 14% higher than Australia's, but in 2011 real output has dropped to 14% below Australia's levels.[16] In the span of 20 years, Japan's economy was overtaken not only in gross output, but labor efficiency, whereas previously it was a global leader in both.

    And the reason it crashed was the same reason Japan threw away the "gift from the heavens" -- ignorence and arrogance. Japan was supposedly "winning the peace" and was going to show the rest of the world how things should be done. Interesting that in both cases, the "gift from the heavens" and the post-WWII miracle, it took Japan about 40 years to screw things up.

  • -2

    turbotsat

    smig1975: i can think of bigger threats than pacifism !

    Pacifism without strength better not be sitting next to strength without pacifism.

  • 0

    MASSWIPE

    So I can see that the basic tenor of all right-wing, revisionist, pro-Japan comments here is: The world in 1914 was still characterized by dog-eat-dog Social Darwinism and so Japan had every right to make opportunistic land-grabs whenever and wherever it could.

    This amoral perspective ignores the fact that alliances were real and actually meant something to the countries that formed them, at least the Western countries. The British had been in a bilateral alliance with Japan since 1902, an alliance without which Japan could not have prevailed in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Were the British hypocrites for being unhappy with Japan's opportunistic seizure of German concessions in China in 1914? I suppose so, but it was foolish for Japan's leaders to have ignored this displeasure on London's part. Termination of the Anglo-Japanese alliance in 1923 was one consequence of Japan's wartime behavior.

    Also, Japan and China were technically on the same side during the World War I conflict. Now the revisionists say that this is meaningless and that Chinese territory was ripe for conquest, a la Mexico in 1846 or Africa in the late 19th century. From Tokyo's perspective China was just like carrion, a country whose expiration date had passed. How do you think this kind of attitude on Japan's part looked to everybody else, not least the Chinese? It was a strategic blunder and miscalculation on Japan's part to assume that China could be carved up like a Christmas Day turkey just because it was internally riven by warlordism and civil conflict.

  • 1

    LeChatBotte

    Frungy

    You're on to something. The 50 cent army can't really provide their minions proper documentation without contradicting their guidelines and the rest blissfully ignore facts so they satisfy their misplaced egos with their usual chest thumping.

    Had Japan stayed content with what they had, the US recognized their "special interest" in China with the Lansing-Ishii Agreement http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lansing-Ishii_Agreement and the Treaty of Versailles signed by the Allies transferred all German possessions in China - called by some "little enclaves" - to Japan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Versailles#British_aims

    SamuraiBlue

    The US started a full embargo on Japan only after Japan moved in on France's colonies in what they called Indochina at the time.

  • 1

    SamuraiBlue

    LeChatBotte

    Protectionism by European nations started way before the actual embargo that made it very difficult to import and export the embargo merely stopped everything that was already a thin line.

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