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The 80th anniversary of Japan’s invasion of China

10 5 0

Back on July 7, 1937, Japan made a fateful choice to subjugate China, propelling it into a wider war in Southeast Asia and a Pacific War with the U.S. In 1937 the military informed Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe and Emperor Hirohito that it would take just three divisions only three months to pacify China. Didn’t anyone look at a map?

Japanese leaders had dreams of regional hegemony, believing that the nation’s destiny was to preside over Asia. This involved displacing Western imperial rivals and also coping with the rising tide of anti-Japanese nationalism among Chinese that was hampering Tokyo’s plans to tap China’s resources and markets. Doing so was essential to catapult Japan into the ranks of the leading powers. Problematically, the political unrest that beset China from 1912, when the Qing Dynasty was replaced by the Republic of China, and intensified over the next 25 years targeted Japan as public enemy No. 1.

In 1895 Japan was victorious in the war it instigated against China and imposed a punitive peace settlement that required China to empty its treasury for reparation payments to Tokyo, snatched Taiwan and the Pescadore Islands, and claimed the Liaotung Peninsula in southern Manchuria. It also joined the club of Western powers in imposing unequal treaties on China that facilitated commercial expansion and exploitation. In response, three of those powers — Russia, France and Germany — forced Japan to retrocede the Liaotung Peninsula, a humiliating outcome that sparked outrage when Russia subsequently leased the very same territory. To prepare for the coming war with Russia, Japan concluded an alliance with Great Britain in 1902, gaining status while ensuring Japan was no longer diplomatically........

© The Japan Times