Back   Japanese Foreign Policy in the 1930s

What were Japan's foreign policy objectives and actions prior to WWII?



  1. Nationalist – the Japanese coined the slogan ‘ Asia for the Asians’ as early as the Japan-Russia war of 1904-5.

  2. Dictatorship – Japanese emperor all-powerful.

  3. Aggrieved – Japan was an ally of Britain during WWI, but got little from the peace settlements.   The Washington Naval agreement of 1922 only allowed Japan one ship to Britain ’s 5.   Many Japanese believed it was time to even the score.

  4. Army – Japan had a military tradition, and the govt was increasingly dominated by the army.

  5. Great Depression.   In the 1920s and 1930s the silk trade collapsed.   Thousands of peasants were impoverished.   The army’s solution was similar to Hitler’s lebensraum policy in Europe – get land for the peasants in China .

  6. Empire – Japan had few raw materials/natural resources and wanted an empire (a ‘co-prosperity sphere’ as they called it) to secure these for Japanese industry.

  7. Anti-communism – Japan saw Manchuria as a buffer against communist Russia ; already kept its Kwantung army there.



1931       took advantage of an explosion on the South Manchurian Railway to conquer Manchuria and set up a puppet government (Manchuko, 1932) run by the former Emperor of China.

1933       left the League of Nations when ordered to leave Manchuria / occupied Jehol in China .

1936       formed anti-Comintern (anti-communist countries) pact with Germany .

1937       invaded China .

1937       forms Axis with Germany and Italy

1941       invades Indo-China

Dec 1941 Pearl Harbor