"Japan's Total Empire" - Essay Sample

Published: 2024-01-15
"Japan's Total Empire" - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Political science Historical events & places
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1295 words
11 min read

Historical works regarding Japan's imperial development in Northeastern China through the 1930s, famously referred to as "Manchukuo," have concentrated scarcely on fiscal and tactical features concerning Japan's marionette state. Louise Young's Japan's Total Empire suggests an exceedingly inclusive, inspiring look at Japan's imperial development in Manchuria. She excellently integrates political, communal, economic, and ethnic proportions of the state's growth of the puppet colony into her articulate reason.

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The comprehensive theoretic lunge of this effort is to clarify complex associations regarding modernism and empire construction through probing techniques in which the kingdom structure in Manchuria is comprehensively interrelated with its contemporary state and civilization at home. Young argues that during the 1930's Manchuria, which was at the rear of Japanese imperial consciousness, moved to the front during the building of the new jurisdiction in the northeast. She reveals the extent of Japan's grand project and conscription for the regal scheme stirred, which distorted several domestic contemporary organizations. Young chooses to debate six current transformations that took place during the imperial quest by Japan as his approach to studying this history: first, she assesses the formation of "Manchukuo"2 and how it changed and extended the function of progressively commercialized and municipalizing mass philosophy in policy; second, how utilization of numerous social clusters at home for the territory construction in Manchuria changed the association between the nation and society at large; third, Young illuminates on how the building of puppet colony aided in the production of tenuous alliances between the nation and cloistered commercial benefits; fourthly, how the Japan's structure presented various occupation chances for expatriate Marxist and liberal intellectuals in Manchuria and its neighborhood, making it possible to advance their perfect social ideals and ideas through the 1930s; the fifth was how Japan's empire in Manchuria later in 1931 converted to a scheme for trialing with state entrepreneurship, which later left their tracks on Japan's local economic organizations. Last, she assesses how the method of empire building, mainly its relocation and colonization plan, stimulated the growth of state apparatus " Over these leased territories, which represented but a small fraction of South Manchuria, Japan ruled directly through a formal colonial apparatus."

Although Manchukuo was formed in 1932, its origins went back to 1905, a time Japan acquired an array of powerful tools in the southern part of Manchuria as an outcome of conquest in the Russo-Japanese Warfare4 A combination of official and informal rudiments, the South Manchurian scope of inspiration was fastened by longstanding contracts on the Liaodong Peninsula together with the lands held by Japan's royal railway corporation, the South Manchurian Railway. Above these leased zones, which embodied but a minor portion of South Manchuria, Japan reigned directly with formal colonial tactics. In South Manchuria, Japan was able to exert influence secondarily, through the association with native Chinese rulers, done by economic supremacy of the markets, and by constant intimidation of force by Japan's garrison army5.

'Japan's Total Empire' looks at the upsurge of warfare fever in Japanese society immediately after the incident in September 1931, which occurred in Manchuria. Young argues that, far from the more mutual interest of the government's intent of arming the media to assist in the process of imperialism, the media took the lead in doing so increased the circulation and magnitude of the imperial movement: "Japan's war fever of the 1930s revealed the relationship between an expanding marketplace for cultural manufactures and the rise of jingoism as a key force behind military imperialism"6 (Young, 1998). Going through multiple strands of the jingoist discourse as well as the publishing mechanisms that allowed it to reach unprecedented levels of saturation in Japanese society, Young concludes that "massification gave to the media the power to constitute, to unify, and to mold a national opinion on imperialism." The discourses of xenophobia, of thanatophile heroism regardless of tactical or strategic value (in marked contrast to the narratives of heroes in Japan's earlier imperial wars), of individual glory through suffering projected onto the empire, and of family obligation all combined to produce an iron-clad widespread consensus for imperialism.

The author explores the transformation of the Manchurian economy after the formation of the puppet state, discussing the establishment tot the controlled economy, in which the army government embarked on a grand experiment in planned economic development and state capitalism; economic expansion in Manchukuo became a solution to Japanese domestic economic problems, and the integration of the metropolitan and colonial economies into the "Japan-Manchuria bloc" meant that neither could quickly extricate themselves from the other. Although the business community claimed after the end of the empire that it had been strong-armed into providing the capital to develop Manchukuo, the army and the business community entered into an uneasy partnership in which business provided capital as long as the government assumed all the risk7 (Young, 1998). Thus, the business effectively ceded control over economic policy to the army, with the result, that by the invasion of China in 1937, Manchukuo and Japan had entered into an economic cul-de-sac from which there was no easy escape: heavy industry in Manchukuo was putting Japan proper into an import/export imbalance with the rest of the world due to the need for raw materials to supply that industry, thus accomplishing precisely the opposite of what the army had intended, namely a self-sustaining autarkical economic bloc independent of the West. Army economic policy putting the squeeze on the Chinese peasantry also obviated the possibility of Manchukuo becoming a sizable market for Japanese exports of consumer goods, thus harming business interests8. However, due to the expansionist logic of imperialism, the answer to this, rather than change economic policy in Manchukuo, was to go out and conquer China, creating in essence both a self-fulfilling prophecy and a negative feedback loop in which conquest ran up costs that called for more conquest to defray. As Young summarizes, "At every stage implementation was impeded first, by problems created by the conflict of public and private interests, and second, by the essential inability of an imperial trade bloc to overcome Japan's economic dependence on Western markets for imports, exports, and capital".

It would not have occurred to me to think of the transformation as cultural history; this is because it is captivated that the preconception that "cultural history" concerns "soft" and "non-weighty"10 things, as compared to imperialism, which is integrally Weighty and Important. This book is a brilliant example of the extent of cultural history, and it distresses me that there exists a turn away from social history presently happening in the field.

In Young's conclusions, it is considered they are significantly exact, as she gets all the pertinent players in the discussion and presented for in a way that several other books (such as Carol Gluck's Japan's Modern Myths) fail to achieve. It is believable that there existed a ratcheting consequence in the interaction between community opinion as stated in the media, dogma and policy-makers, and civilization that joined and then consecrated the imperialist accord in Japan 1930s. Additionally, thinking that her edginess with the Marxist (kĂ´zaha, to be specific) row that Japan continued to be "semi-feudal," and the idea that Manchukuo did not exist as a modern empire would be correct.

The region was ultra-modern, not only in its expertise but also in its domination, which remains one reason that finds the discussion fascinating. Imperialism in Japan's empire produced peculiar unions among military generals, capitalists, administrators, and progressive intellectuals. However, despite unification under the ultimate ideal of full imperialism, individual groups projected different ideological empire descriptions. Existing inconsistent forces continuously held the course of empire structure in a dangerous balance


Gregg Huff. World War II and SouthEast Asia, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Cambridge University Press,2020.

Louise Young, Japan's Total Empire: Manchuria and The Culture of Wartime Imperialism, University of California Press, 1999.

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