Global Issues: Japan/Militarism
Japan's Militarism refers to the ideology of the Empire of Japan that militarism should dominate the political and social life of the nation, and that the strength of the military is equal to the strength of a nation.
The Birth of Militarism in Japan
Ever since Feudal Japan the military compromised of factions, clans of lords that worked similarly to the feudalism in Europe. After the Meiji Restoration Almost all leaders in Japanese society during the Meiji period (whether in the military, politics or business) were ex-samurai or descendants of samurai, and shared a common set of values and outlooks. The early Meiji government viewed Japan as threatened by western imperialism, and one of the prime motivations for the Fukoku Kyohei policy was to strengthen Japan's economic and industrial foundations, so that a strong military could be built to defend Japan against outside powers. It was then when Japan begun its transition to industrialization of the entire country and develop Japan into an industrialized state built around a strong economic, industrial, and militarized state.
The Meiji Restoration period was an immensely hard time for Japan's social and government ebcause of massive revolts against the system. Japan's Emperors after the 1860's were literally bringing Japan into the industrial age as fast as they could to catch up with most western powers even if the people of Japan were lagging behind. The rise of political parties in the late Meiji period was coupled with the rise of secret and semi-secret patriotic societies, such as the Genyōsha (1881) and Kokuryukai (1901), which coupled political activities with paramilitary activities and military intelligence, and supported expansionism overseas as a solution to Japan's domestic issues. During these periods Japan looked abroad to follow other examples around the world to build a great war machine, because of the islands shortness on raw materials. Japanese ambassadors were sent around to the world to learn, report, and observe how other great western powers had built there military up for this new age of industrialized combat. Most notably was the encounter with the Prussian Army and the advice of Major Jakob Meckel's views on the differences between the German and the French military models. In response to a Japanese request, Prussian Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke selected Meckel. In Japan, Meckel worked closely with future Prime Ministers General Katsura Taro and General Yamagata Aritomo, and with army strategist General Kawakami Soroku. Meckel made numerous recommendations which were implemented, including reorganization of the command structure of the army into divisions and regiments, thus increasing mobility, strengthening the army logistics and transportation structure, with the major army bases connected by railways, establishing artillery and engineering regiments as independent commands, and revising the universal conscription system to abolish virtually all exceptions. A bust of Meckel was sited in front of the Japanese Army Staff College from 1909 through 1945.Although his period in Japan (1885-1888) was relatively short, Meckel had a tremendous impact on the development of the Japanese military. He is credited with having introduced Clauswitz's military theories and the Prussian concept of war games (kriegspiel) in a process of refining tactics. By training some sixty of the highest-ranking Japanese officers of the time in tactics, strategy and organization, he was able to replace the previous influences of the French advisers with his own philosophies.
During the 19th century, Great Power status was considered dependent on resource-rich colonial empires, both as a source of raw materials for military and industrial production, and international prestige. Due to the lack of resources in Japanese home islands, raw materials such as iron, oil, and coal largely had to be imported. The idea through the Imperial army was that of nationalism and bringing the idea of Emperor and country first before anyone else. Before the Imperial age of colonialism. Japan's culture and life especially in the feudal age had strong thoughts of ethnocentrism and superiority to other races. These ideas were constantly brought out in training and in the education system through out the Meiji Restoration and into latter half of the 20th century. The birth of Ultra nationalism came into mainstream society which became the fanatic fervor and the loyalty of the people. Imperialist nature was inevitable for Japan as they looked outward into China, Taiwan, and Manchuria for raw materials and resources.
Imperialism (National Interests)
Japan had been involved in the Asian continent continuously from the First Sino-Japanese War, Boxer Rebellion, Russo-Japanese War, World War I and the Siberian Intervention. During the term of Prime Minister Tanaka Giichi from 1927 to 1929, Japan sent troops three times to China to obstruct Chiang Kai-shek's unification campaign. In June 1928, adventurist officers of the Kwantung Army embarked on unauthorized initiatives to protect Japanese interests in Manchuria, including the assassination of a former ally, warlord Zhang Zuolin, in hopes of sparking a general conflict. The Manchurian Incident of September 1931 did not fail, and it set the stage for the Japanese military takeover of all of Manchuria. Kwangtung Army conspirators blew up a few meters of South Manchurian Railway Company track near Mukden, blamed it on Chinese saboteurs, and used the event as an excuse to invade and seize the vast territory. In Tokyo one month later, in the Imperial Colors Incident, military figures failed in an attempt to establish a military dictatorship, but again the news was suppressed and the military perpetrators were not punished. In January 1932, Japanese forces attacked Shanghai in the First Shanghai Incident, waging a three-month undeclared war there before a truce was reached. The civilian government in Tokyo was powerless to prevent these military adventures, and instead of being condemned, the Kwangtung Army's actions enjoyed considerable popular support. The Japanese Military had major successes in its colonial campaign in its quest for resources. It greatly expanded its own empire and gained a world power status as it steam rolled through out Asia and the Pacific islands.
The Ending of Japanese Militarism
The war with the United States greatly inhibited movements and outward expansion for Japan and limited them greatly in other campaigns to increase resource production and mobilization. The war with the United States was supposed to be a decisive war that could lead o no longer than 3 years because of faltering supply lines and basic resources. However the war lasted 4 years and the opposite ended up happening to Imperial Japan as it was put on the defensive after the pivotal battle of Midway which turned the tide of the war to the United States. Despite efforts to totally militarize Japanese society during the war, including such measures as the National Service Draft Ordinance and the National Spiritual Mobilization Movement, Japanese militarism was completely discredited during the American occupation by the utter failure of Japan's military in World War II. After the surrender of Japan, many of its former military leaders were tried for war crimes before the Tokyo tribunal, its government, educational system revised and had pacifism written into the post-war Constitution of Japan as one of its key tenets.
Today Japan resides as a country of pacifism and peace. Efforts to keep it a pacifist state is a controversial debate in the Japanese Diet. Japan after the war has remained against war, and has put such articles in their own constitution such as Article 9 "is a clause in the National Constitution of Japan that prohibits an act of war by the state. The Constitution came into effect on May 3, 1947, immediately following World War II. In its text, the state formally renounces war as a sovereign right and bans settlement of international disputes through the use of force. The article also states that, to accomplish these aims, armed forces with war potential will not be maintained."
Japan is also a leader in the world for peace and humanity works. Japan today has completely took an opposite stance politically since World War 2 and continues to strive for peace before everything else. It is one of the only countries around the world that proclaims and follows this statement.
1. Gordon, David M. "The China-Japan War, 1931-1945" Journal of Military History (Jan 2006) v 70#1, pp 137-82. Historiographical overview of major books
2. Sansom, George (1958). 'A History of Japan to 1334'. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
3. Sansom, George (1963). "A History of Japan: 1615-1867." Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
4. "Overview of Japan's Defense Policy 2005" (PDF). Japan Defense Agency. http://www.jda.go.jp/e/publications/overview/english.pdf. Retrieved on 2006-03-05.
5. "Japan creates defense ministry". BBC News. 2006-12-15. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6182087.stm.