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Alliance of the Colored Peoples

Alliance of the Colored Peoples: Ethiopia and Japan before World War II

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Alliance of the Colored Peoples
    Book Description:

    With the Japanese posing as the leader of the world's colored peoples before World War II, many Ethiopians turned to Japan for inspiration. By offering them commercial opportunities, by seeking their military support, and by reaching out to popular Japanese opinion, Ethiopians tried to soften the stark reality of a stronger Italy encroaching on their country. Europeans feared Japan's growing economic and political influence in the colonial world. Jealously guarding its claimed rights in Ethiopia against all comers, among Italy's reasons for going to war was the perceived need to blunt Japan's commercial and military advances into Northeast Africa. Meanwhile, throughout 1934 and the summer of 1935, Moscow worked hard and in ways contrary to its claimed ideological imperatives to make Collective Security work. Ethiopia was a small price to pay Italy for cooperation against Nazi Germany in Austria and Imperial Japan in China. 'Yellow' Japanese and 'black' Ethiopian collaboration before the war illuminates the pernicious and flexible use of race in international diplomacy. In odious terms, Italians used race to justify their actions as defending western and 'white' civilization. The Japanese used race to explain their tilt toward Ethiopia. The Soviets used race to justify their support for Italy until late 1935. Ethiopia used race to attract help, and 'colored' peoples worldwide rallied to Ethiopia's call. J. Calvitt Clarke III is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville University, Florida.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-010-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. 1 Early Ethio-Japanese Contacts & theYellow Peril
    (pp. 1-6)

    The historical relationship between Japan and Africa stretches back to the seventh century, when Japanese and Africans presumably met each other in China and elsewhere in East Asia. With the arrival of Europeans by the midsixteenth century, encounters between Japanese and Africans in and outside Japan had increased. Japanese contacts with Africa before World War II, however, were always an appendage. Moreover, distinguishing North and Northeast Africa geographically from Black Africa by stressing racial, historical, religious, cultural, and linguistic differences, Japan’s foreign ministry officially classified that region as part of the Middle East.¹

    After the Meiji restoration of 1868, Japanese...

  6. 2 Ethiopia’s Japanizers
    (pp. 7-21)

    From the second half of the nineteenth century, mainly through European missionary schools, a smattering of young Ethiopians began receiving the rudiments of a modern education. Europe impressed these youths, even if most had never been there. they did, however, have contacts with the colonial territories bordering Ethiopia, and most studied foreign languages and other modern subjects in mission schools or in the new state schools. In the early twentieth century, these students with foreign educations often sought positions at court, and many of them refused to share the complacency of their compatriots after Ethiopia’s military victory over Italy at...

  7. 3 Japanese Views on Ethiopia
    (pp. 22-30)

    In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Japanese first met Africans and Indians working as servants for Portuguese and Dutch merchants, who taught the Japanese analogies comparing blacks to animals. Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry’s first visit to Japan on the Blackships in 1853 reinforced the denigrating stereotypes of African peoples. When he returned in the following year, he held a reception for his Japanese guests onboard his flagship and the entertainment included a blackface minstrel show, which the Japanese enjoyed. In 1860, a Japanese mission visited the United States to learn about American culture. Its members accepted black slavery in the...

  8. 4 Promise of Commercial Exchange 1923–1931
    (pp. 31-40)

    In 1923, when Regent Teferi Mekonnen sent a delegation to Geneva to seek his country’s admission to the league of Nations, Ethiopia’s representatives met their Japanese counterparts for the first time. Heruy, then a judge in the Special Court, was one of those delegates. Sugimura Yotaro, later Japan’s ambassador in Italy, approached Heruy, who recalled, ‘the Japanese representative showed great friendliness to the Ethiopian Empire. And our present Emperor eagerly wished contact with Japan, a great empire in the East.’¹

    While the Western powers had admitted Japan to the league of Nations as a member straight away, they initially refused...

  9. 5 Japan’s Penetration of Ethiopia Grows
    (pp. 41-61)

    Heruy remained eager to see if Ethiopia could model its modernization along Japanese lines. On November 19, 1930, he asked Yoshida about sending an Ethiopian mission to Japan to improve relations. Receiving a favorable reply, Hayle Sellase then officially asked Japan to accept an ambassadeur extraordinaire to Japan, and the foreign ministry in Tokyo directed Yoshida to discuss details.¹

    Having told an unhappy Rome of his plans, Heruy left Addis Ababa on September 30, 1931. Traveling with him were Teferi Gebre Mariam (Ethiopia’s consul in Djibouti), Araya Abeba, and Daba Birrou. Official duties, including ratifying the Ethio-Japanese treaty signed the...

  10. 6 The Soviet Union, Italy, China, Japan & Ethiopia
    (pp. 62-77)

    Soviet russia closely followed Japan’s political, economic, and military advances, especially those in Manchuria that threatened Siberia, and they connected those threats with Japan’s successes in Ethiopia. Moscow’s worries dramatically affected Japan’s relations with Ethiopia and Italy.

    State interests, communist ideology, and legacies of earlier Italo-russian confrontation in Northeast Africa before World War I impacted Soviet policy between the two world wars. Russia’s imperial efforts in the region had fallen within the boundary of European power politics, and the Soviets suckled the milk of Tsarist experience. For both the Tsar and Commissars, state interests predominated. Yet, the universalistic and messianic...

  11. 7 The Flowering of Ethio-Japanese Relations 1934
    (pp. 78-100)

    In general, leaders in rome and Moscow could each outdo the other in their opportunism, but they were not entirely cynical in expressing their concerns about Japanese inroads into Ethiopia. their fearswere real, even if exaggerated.

    The year 1934 proved crucial for developing relations between Addis Ababa and tokyo, and rome evaluated their impact on Italian policy. One Italian report complained that Japan was dominating the cotton markets in East Africa, including Ethiopia. Further, tokyo and Addis Ababa were already engaging in ‘important’ negotiations of unknown content, but they probably would not complete them until Japan had established a legation....

  12. 8 The Sugimura Affair July 1935
    (pp. 101-130)

    The eventual rapprochement between Italy and Japan, marked first by the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1936 and ultimately by a common war against the Allies between 1941 and 1945, began with the Sugimura Affair in July 1935.¹

    In the first half of 1935, the world’s newspapers published many excited rumors about Japanese intrigues in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa and Tokyo, by contrast, consistently stressed the limited nature of their relations. For example, Ethiopia’s consul in Egypt told the press that several Japanese had negotiated to start businesses in Ethiopia but had failed. He insisted that Ethiopia was not favoring Japan at the...

  13. 9 Daba Birrou’s Mission to Japan
    (pp. 131-147)

    At the Majestic Hotel in Addis Ababa on August 1, the Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi sponsored a roundtable discussion, ‘Ethiopia in Danger’. Araya, Heruy, and thirteen other prominent Ethiopian officials attended, as did Iwabuchi Yosikazu. Yamauchi Masao, well-versed in Amharic, acted as chair. Iwabuchi, a correspondent for the Osaka Mainichi, took charge of the reception, and the 26-year-old Shoji recorded the proceedings. Although arranged in secret, British, American, and German journalists came to the hotel seeking information.¹

    Meanwhile, rumors continued to move beyond the facts of Ethio-Japanese relations. On August 2, reports claimed that demonstrators in Rome had...

  14. 10 The End of Stresa, the Italo-Ethiopian War, & Japan
    (pp. 148-167)

    Like the Japanese, the Soviets were offering little tangible support to Ethiopia beyond verbal forays. George Padmore starkly denounced the effort: ‘The Soviet Union failed to send a ruble, a bandage roll, or a ton of wheat to Ethiopia.’¹

    The last thing that Foreign Commissar Litvinov wanted was a confrontation between Britain and Italy, as this would would paralyze all efforts to form a united front against Germany and Japan. During the summer of 1935, he had worked hard to delay discussions at Geneva on Ethiopia, and he told Anthony Eden how earnestly he hoped to avoid in Ethiopia the...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 168-170)

    Italy’s war against Ethiopia held enormous consequences for international diplomacy. It became the pivot around which potential alliances turned. Within a year after Italy’s declaration of empire, the sides that took to the military field between 1939 and 1941 had become clear.

    Japan’s unpunished aggression in the Far East had inspired Italian Fascism and helped clear the diplomatic way for the Ethiopian adventure. The war then breached the united front the three great Western powers had reached at Stresa. This provoked conflict between Italy and Britain, sharpened Anglo-French antagonisms, and killed Soviet hopes for collective security against Germany and Japan....

  16. Appendix: The Ethiopian & Meiji Constitutions
    (pp. 171-174)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 175-188)
  18. Index
    (pp. 189-198)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 199-199)