Japanese colonial empire

The territorial conquests of the Japanese Empire in the Western Pacific Ocean and East Asia began in 1895 with its victory over Qing China in the First Sino-Japanese War.[1] Subsequent victories over the Russian Empire (Russo-Japanese War) and German Empire (World War I) expanded Japanese rule to Taiwan, Korea, Micronesia, southern Sakhalin, several concessions in China, and the South Manchuria Railway. In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria, resulting in the establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo the following year; thereafter, Japan adopted a policy of founding and supporting puppet states in conquered regions. These conquered territories became the basis for the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in 1940.

Japanese colonial empire
Flag of Japanese
The Japanese Empire in 1942
  •   Japan
StatusColonial empire
CapitalTokyo City (1895–1943)
Tokyo (1943–)
Common languagesJapanese
Korean (Korea), Taiwanese Hokkien (Taiwan), Formosan languages (Taiwan)
• Established
• Disestablished
CurrencyJapanese yen,
Japanese military yen,
Korean yen,
Taiwanese yen
Japan and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere at its peak in 1942. Japan and its allies Thailand and Free India in dark red; occupied territories and client states in lighter red. Chōsen (Korea), Taiwan (Formosa), and Karafuto (South Sakhalin) were integral parts of Japan.

Including Mainland Japan, colonies, occupied territories, and puppet states, the Japanese Empire at its apex was one of the largest empires in history. The total amount of land under Japanese sovereignty reached 8,510,000 km2 (3,300,000 sq mi) in 1942.[2] By 1943, it accounted for more than 20% of the world's population at the time with 463 million people in its occupied regions and territories.[3][4]

After Japan was defeated by the Allies in 1945, colonial control from Tokyo over the far-flung territories ended. The extent of Japanese governance was restricted to the naichi (excepting Karafuto Prefecture, which was annexed by the Soviet Union); the Nanpō and Ryūkyū Islands were returned to Japan by the US in 1968 and 1972 respectively.

The territorial expansion of the Japanese colonial empire was marked by aggression towards other nations, with the Japanese committing numerous atrocities and war crimes, killing millions.[5]

Maximum extent of the Japanese Empire

Pre-1895 edit

The first overseas territories that Japan acquired were the islands of its surrounding seas. During the early Meiji era, Japan established control over the Nanpō, Ryukyu, and Kuril Islands; it also strengthened control of the naichi. But this effort was less an initial step toward colonial expansion than it was a reassertion of national authority over territories traditionally within the Japanese cultural sphere.[6]

Acquisition of colonies edit

At the start of the twentieth century the rate of population increase in Japan was seen as a potential problem for the Japanese government, and colonial expansion into Korea and Manchuria was seen as a possible solution.[7]

Taiwan edit

Between 1895 and 1945, Taiwan, including the Pescadores, was a colony of the Japanese Empire; following the defeat of Qing China in the First Sino-Japanese War, it ceded Taiwan to Japan under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The short-lived Republic of Formosa resistance movement was quickly suppressed by the Japanese military. The fall of Tainan ended organized resistance to Japanese occupation and inaugurated five decades of Japanese rule.

Since Taiwan was Japan's first overseas colony, the central and colonial governments turned their efforts into making the island a "model colony".[8] These resulted in the modernization of the island's economy, infrastructure, industry, public works, and forced assimilation.

In 1945, after the defeat of the Japanese Empire in World War II, Taiwan placed under the control o fthe Republic of China with the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.[9] The experience of Japanese rule, Kuomintang rule, and the February 28 Incident of 1947 continues to affect issues such as Retrocession Day, national and ethnic identity, and the Taiwan independence movement.

Korea edit

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, various Western countries competed for influence, trade, and territory in East Asia, and Japan sought to join these modern colonial powers. The newly modernized Meiji government of Japan turned to Korea, then in the sphere of influence of China's Qing dynasty. The Japanese government initially sought to separate Korea from Qing and make Korea a Japanese satellite to further their security and national interests.[10]

In January 1876, Japan employed gunboat diplomacy to pressure Korea, under the Joseon Dynasty, to sign the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, which granted extraterritorial rights to Japanese citizens and opened three Korean ports to Japanese trade. The rights granted to Japan under this unequal treaty,[11] were similar to those granted to western powers in Japan following the visit of Commodore Perry.[11] Japanese involvement in Korea increased during the 1890s, a period of political upheaval.

Korea was occupied and declared a Japanese protectorate following the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905; it was annexed in 1910 through the annexation treaty. Korea was renamed Chōsen and remained a part of the Japanese Empire for 35 years; from August 22, 1910, until August 15, 1945, upon the surrender of Japan in the Pacific War. The 1905 and 1910 treaties were officially declared "null and void" by both Japan and South Korea in 1965.

South Sakhalin edit

During the 19th century, Russia and Japan vied for control of Sakhalin Island. Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japanese settlers were sent to southern Sakhalin to exploit its resources.[12] Japan ceded southern Sakhalin to Russia in 1875 in exchange for the Kuril Islands under the Treaty of Saint Petersburg. After achieving victory in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan was ceded southern Sakhalin under the terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth. Japan established its colonial government in 1907, whereupon South Sakhalin was renamed Karafuto Prefecture.

Japanese and Korean migrants to the colony developed the fishing, forestry and mining industries. Taking advantage of the Russian Civil War, the Imperial Japanese Army occupied northern Sakhalin between 1920 and 1925;[13] afterwards Japan retained favorable coal and oil concessions therein until 1944. In 1943, Karafuto was elevated to naichi status.

The Soviet Union invaded and annexed Karafuto at the end of World War II.[14]

South Seas Mandate edit

Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Japanese Empire declared war on the German Empire and quickly seized the possessions of the German colonial empire in the Pacific Ocean (the Northern Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Marshall Islands) with virtually no resistance. After the end of the war the Treaty of Versailles formally recognized the Japanese occupation of former German colonies in Micronesia north of the equator. A League of Nations mandate put them under the Japanese administration known as the Nan'yō Agency or South Seas Agency (南洋廳, Nan'yō Chō) and the post of Governor of the South Seas Mandate was created.[15]

The main significance of the South Seas Mandate to Japan was its strategic location, which dominated the sea lanes across the Pacific Ocean and provided convenient provisioning locations for ships. During the 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Navy began construction of airfields, fortifications, ports, and other military projects on the South Seas Mandate islands, viewing them as "unsinkable aircraft carriers" with a critical role to play in the defense of the Japanese home islands against potential invasion by the United States. The islands became important staging grounds for Japanese air and naval offensives during the Pacific War but were lost to American military action between 1943 and 1945. The League of Nations mandate was formally revoked by the United Nations on July 18, 1947, according to Security Council Resolution 21, making the United States responsible for administration of the islands under the terms of a United Nations trusteeship agreement which established the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Manchuria edit

After emerging victorious against Qing China in the First Sino-Japanese War, Japan was ceded the southern part of the Liaodong Peninsula under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Diplomatic pressure from Russia, Germany, and France forced Japan to quickly relinquish the territory, which allowed Russia to lease it from China in 1898. In 1905, Russia was defeated in the Russo-Japanese War; under the terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth, Russia returned the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan, whereupon it was renamed the Kwantung Leased Territory. A governor and an Imperial Japanese Army garrison were established, the latter becoming the Kwantung Army in 1919.

As a result of Russia's defeat, it also lost influence in Manchuria, which allowed Japan to take its place. In 1906, Japan laid the South Manchuria Railway to Ryojun. Japan temporarily occupied Russian Manchuria in 1918, but returned it to the Soviet Union in 1922. Manchuria came under the control of the Chinese warlord Zhang Zuolin during the warlord period in China. He initially had Japanese backing, but the Kwantung Army found him too independent; he was assassinated in 1928.

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria took place in 1931 following the Mukden Incident, a staged event engineered by Japanese military personnel from the Kwantung Army as a pretext for invasion.[16][17][18] The region was subsequently separated from Chinese control and the Japanese-aligned puppet state of Manchukuo was created.[19] The last Emperor of China, Puyi, was installed as head of state in 1932, and two years later he was declared Emperor of Manchukuo. The city of Changchun was renamed Xinjing and became the capital of Manchukuo. An imperial palace was specially built for the emperor. He was, however, nothing more than a figurehead and real authority rested in the hands of the Japanese military officials. The Manchu ministers all served as front-men for their Japanese vice-ministers, who made all decisions. Anti-Japanese Volunteer Armies were organized by the Chinese in Manchuria and the pacification of Manchukuo required a war lasting several years.

During the 1930s the Japanese colonized Manchukuo. With Japanese investment and rich natural resources, the economy of Manchukuo experienced rapid economic growth. Manchukuo's industrial system became one of the most advanced, making it one of the industrial powerhouses in the region.[20] Manchukuo's steel production exceeded Japan's in the late 1930s. The Japanese Army initially sponsored a policy of forced industrialization modeled after the Five Year Plan in the Soviet Union[21] but subsequently private capital was used in a very strongly state-directed economy. There was progress in the area's social systems and many Manchurian cities were modernized. Manchukuo issued banknotes and postal stamps, and several independent banks were founded. The Chinese Eastern Railway was bought from the Soviet Union In 1935. Traditional lands were taken and redistributed to Japanese farmers with local farmers relocated and forced into collective farming units over smaller areas of land.

During this period Manchukuo was used as a base from which to invade China. In the summer of 1939, a border dispute between Manchukuo and the Mongolian People's Republic resulted in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. During this battle, a combined Soviet Army and Mongolian force defeated the Japanese Kwantung Army (Kantōgun) supported by limited Manchukuoan forces. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on 8 August 1945 under the agreement at the Yalta Conference and invaded Manchukuo from Russian Manchuria and Mongolia. This was called Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation. The Army of Manchukuo was defeated and the Emperor was captured by Soviet forces. Most of the 1.5  million Japanese who had been left in Manchukuo at the end of World War II were sent back to their homeland in 1946-1948 by U.S. Navy ships in the operation now known as the Japanese repatriation from Huludao.

World War II edit

Territory Japanese name Date Population est.(1943) Notes
Japan Naichi (內地) 1868-1945 72,000,000 Present-day Japan, South Sakhalin, Kuril, and Ryukyu Islands
Karafuto/South Sakhalin Karafuto-chō (樺太廳) 1905-1943 406,000 Ceded by the Russian Empire to Japan
Korea Chōsen (朝鮮) 1910-1945 25,500,000
Taiwan Taiwan (臺灣) 1895-1945 6,586,000 Ceded by Qing China to Japan
Mainland China Shina (支那) 1931–1945 200,000,000 (est.) Manchukuo 50 million (1940), Rehe, Kwantung Leased Territory, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Shandong, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, plus parts of : Guangdong, Guangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Fujian, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia
Hong Kong Honkon (香港) December 12, 1941 – August 15, 1945 1,400,000 Hong Kong
East Asia (subtotal) Higashi ajia (東亞細亞) or Tō-a (東亞) 306,792,000
Vietnam An'nan (安南) July 15, 1940 – August 29, 1945 22,122,000 As French Indochina
Cambodia Kambojia (カンボジア) July 15, 1940 – August 29, 1945 3,100,000 As French Indochina, Japanese occupation of Cambodia
Laos Raosu (ラオス) July 15, 1940 – August 29, 1945 1,400,000 As French Indochina, Japanese occupation of Laos
Thailand Tai (泰/タイ) December 8, 1941 – August 15, 1945 16,216,000 Independent state, but allied with Japan
Malaysia Maraya (マラヤ) or Marē (マレー), Kita Boruneo (北ボルネオ) March 27, 1942 – September 6, 1945 (Malaya), March 29, 1942 – September 9, 1945 (Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan, North Borneo) 4,938,000 plus 39,000 (Brunei) As Malaya, British Borneo, Brunei
Philippines Firipin (比律賓/フィリピン) or Hitō (比島) May 8, 1942 – July 5, 1945 17,419,000 Philippines
Dutch East Indies Higashi indo (東印度) January 18, 1942 – October 21, 1945 72,146,000 Dutch East Indies
Singapore Shōnan-tō (昭南島) February 15, 1942 – September 9, 1945 795,000 Singapore
Burma Biruma (ビルマ) 1942–1945 16,800,000 Burma
East Timor Higashi chimōru (東チモール) February 19, 1942 – September 2, 1945 450,000 Portuguese Timor
Southeast Asia (subtotal) Tō-nan ajia (東南亞細亞) 155,452,000
New Guinea Nyūginea (ニューギニア) December 27, 1941 – September 15, 1945 1,400,000 As Papua and New Guinea
Guam Ōmiya Island (大宮島) January 6, 1942 – October 24, 1945 from Guam
South Seas Mandate Nan'yō guntō (南洋群島) 1919–1945 129,000 from German Empire
Nauru Nauru (ナウル) August 26, 1942 – September 13, 1945 3,000 from United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand
Wake Island, US Ōtori Island (大鳥島) December 27, 1941 – September 4, 1945 nil USA
Kiribati Kiribasu (キリバス) December 1941 – January 22, 1944 28,000 from Gilbert Islands
Pacific Islands (subtotal) 1,433,000
Total Population 463,677,000

Disclaimer: Not all areas were considered part of the Empire of Japan, but within its sphere of influence, included separately for demographic purposes. Sources: POPULSTAT Asia[3] Oceania[4]

Other islands occupied by Japan during World War II:

Areas attacked but not conquered edit

Raided without immediate intent of occupation edit

Administration edit

A shortage of Japanese administrators led to the establishment of colonial puppet states and the promotion of indigenous elites in the territories which came under Japanese control in the 1940s.[22]

Economic development edit

According to Atul Kohli, the David K.E. Bruce Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton, "the Japanese made extensive use of state power for their own economic development and then used the same state power to pry open and transform Korea in a relatively short period of time".[23] Japan was "decisive in altering both the nature of the Korean state and the relationship of this state to various social classes."[24] How the Japanese centralized bureaucratic style of government was transferred to Korea; how they developed Korean human capital by a considerable expansion of education; how the Japanese invested heavily in infrastructure. Kohli's conclusion is that "the highly cohesive and disciplining state that the Japanese helped to construct in colonial Korea turned out to be an efficacious economic actor. The state utilized its bureaucratic capacities to undertake numerous economic tasks: collecting more taxes, building infrastructure, and undertaking production directly. More important, this highly purposive state made increasing production one of its priorities and incorporated property-owning classes into production-oriented alliances".[25] This sprawling bureaucratic state continued post-World War II and after the Korean War. Japan's early colonial industrialisation of Korea also made it easier to rebuild after the Korean War, because there was no need to begin industrialisation ab initio. Examining Korea's policies and achievements in the 1960s and 1970s, Kohli states that during this period the country was firmly heading towards "cohesive-capitalist development, mainly by re-creating an efficacious but brutal state that intervened extensively in the economy".[26] South Korean economic development was not market-driven—rather the "state intervened heavily to promote exports, using both market and non-market tools to achieve its goals".[27]

See also edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ a b Peattie 1988, p. 217.
  2. ^ James, David H. (2010-11-01). The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-92546-7. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2018. by 1942, this 'Empire' covered about 3,285,000 square miles
  3. ^ a b http://www.populstat.info/Asia/asia.html Archived 2020-02-23 at the Wayback Machine Populstat ASIA
  4. ^ a b http://www.populstat.info/Oceania/oceania.html Archived 2020-02-25 at the Wayback Machine Populstat OCEANIA
  5. ^ Rigg, Bryan Mark (2024). Japan's Holocaust: History of Imperial Japan's Mass Murder and Rape During World War II. Knox Press. pp. 190–191, 276, 312. ISBN 9781637586884.
  6. ^ Peattie 1988, p. 224.
  7. ^ "The Nation, Volume 74". The Nation. Vol. LXXIV. New York: New York Evening Post Company. 1902. p. 187. Retrieved 20 December 2011. In all the ameliorating conditions every one must rejoice; but when these are coupled with the old-time lack of self-control leading to universal early marriages, a problem is rolling up before which Japanese statesmen are appalled. At the present rate of increase, there will, before the middle of this century, be a hundred million people to provide for. It is this prospect that is leading Japanese statesmen to make such frantic efforts to secure opportunity for colonization. Being practically shut off from going to other foreign countries, and Formosa being already largely occupied, Japan would naturally look to Korea and Manchuria; but of these places, Korea would afford only partial relief, both because of its limited area and of its present population. The northern region of Manchuria, however, is still almost as much in a state of nature as were the prairies of the Mississippi valley when the Indians roamed freely over them.
  8. ^ Pastreich, Emanuel. "Sovereignty, Wealth, Culture, and Technology: Mainland China and Taiwan Grapple with the Parameters of "Nation-State" in the 21st Century". ResearchGate.
  9. ^ Chen, C. Peter. "Japan's Surrender". World War II Database. Lava Development, LLC. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  10. ^ Duus, Peter (1995). The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895–1910. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-21361-6.
  11. ^ a b A reckless adventure in Taiwan amid Meiji Restoration turmoil, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  12. ^ Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko (1981). Illness, and Healing Among the Sakhalin Ainu: A Symbolic Interpretation. CUP Archive. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-521-23636-2.
  13. ^ Paichadze, Svetlana; Seaton, Philip A. (2015). Voices from the Shifting Russo-Japanese Border: Karafuto / Sakhalin. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia. Routledge. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-317-61889-8.
  14. ^ Wurm, Stephen A.; Mühlhäusler, Peter; Tryon, Darrell T. (1996). Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas. Trends in Linguistics. Documentation. Vol. 13. Walter de Gruyter. p. 379. ISBN 978-3-11-081972-4.
  15. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard (1962). Sovereign and Subject. Ponsonby Memorial Society. pp. 346–353.
  16. ^ The Cambridge History of Japan: The twentieth century, p. 294, Peter Duus, John Whitney Hall, Cambridge University Press: 1989 ISBN 978-0-521-22357-7
  17. ^ An instinct for war: scenes from the battlefields of history, p. 315, Roger J. Spiller, ISBN 978-0-674-01941-6; Harvard University Press
  18. ^ Concise dictionary of modern Japanese history, p. 120, Janet Hunter, University of California Press: 1984, ISBN 978-0-520-04557-6
  19. ^ Yamamuro, Shin·ichi (2006). Manchuria under Japanese domination. Translated by Fogel, Joshua A. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-0-8122-3912-6.
  20. ^ Prasenjit Duara. "The New Imperialism and the Post-Colonial Developmental State: Manchukuo in comparative perspective". Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  21. ^ Maiolo, Joseph Cry Havoc How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941, New York: Basic Books, 2010 page 30
  22. ^ Plowright, John (2007). The causes, course and outcomes of World War Two. Histories and Controversies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 167. ISBN 978-0-333-79345-9. Retrieved 2010-08-29. The success of the Japanese had other consequences for Britain's—and others'—former colonies. Lacking sufficient numbers of skilled personnel to administer their newly conquered lands, they sometimes either set up puppet governments or entrusted relatively high administrative responsibilities to the local native élites whom the former colonial powers had hitherto systematically kept in lower grade jobs[...]
  23. ^ Kohli 2004, p. 27.
  24. ^ Kohli 2004, p. 31.
  25. ^ Kohli 2004, p. 56.
  26. ^ Kohli 2004, p. 84.
  27. ^ Kohli 2004, p. 119.

Bibliography edit

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  • Paichadze, Svetlana; Seaton, Philip A. (2015). Voices from the Shifting Russo-Japanese Border: Karafuto / Sakhalin. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-61889-8
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