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Japan's Imperial Diplomacy

Japan's Imperial Diplomacy: Consuls, Treaty Ports, and War in China, 1895-1938

Barbara J. Brooks
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    Japan's Imperial Diplomacy
    Book Description:

    In November 1937, Ishii Itaro, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Bureau of Asiatic Affairs, reflected bitterly on the decline of the ministry's influence in China and his own long and debilitating struggle to guide China policy. Ishii was the most notable member of a group of middle-level diplomats who, having served in China, strongly advocated that Japan adopt policies in harmony with China's rising nationalism and national interests. Japan's Imperial Diplomacy profiles this distinct strain of "China service diplomat," while providing a comprehensive look at the institutional history and internal dynamics of the Japanese Foreign Ministry and its handling of China affairs in the years leading up to and through World War II. Moving from a thorough examination of a wide range of primary sources, including the extensive archives of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, memoirs, diaries, and unpublished speeches, Japan's Imperial Diplomacy offers integrated interpretations of Japanese imperialism, diplomacy, and the bureaucratic restructuring of the 1930s that were fundamental to Japan's version of fascism and the move toward war. Specialists of China, Japan, comparative colonialism, and World War II diplomacy will find this well-conceived and carefully researched and organized work of first-rate importance to the understanding of modern Japanese history in general and Japanese imperialism in particular.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6316-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    On November 2, 1937, diplomat Ishii Itarō, head of the Bureau of Asiatic Affairs of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, noted in exasperation in his diary, “It seems that Fascism is happening here not by means of people but through institutions.”¹ Ishii summed up trends he witnessed in the Japanese bureaucracy, although the immediate impetus for his remark was Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro’s announcement of the decision to create the Supreme Command (Daihonei), a new agency that considerably strengthened military power over decisions regarding Japan’s actions in China.² His comment also reflected his bitterness at the declining power of the Foreign...

  5. 1 The Rise of Kasumigaseki Diplomacy The Struggle for Autonomy
    (pp. 15-44)

    The ordinances(shokuinrei)that set up Japan’s new imperial government in 1869 provided for the establishment of a foreign ministry. Within two years, the leading statesman Iwakura Tomomi assumed the post of foreign minister, in all likelihood to better assert the Foreign Ministry’s status as “first among the six ministries.”¹ Because of the importance of foreign relations and treaty revisions to the emerging Japanese state, the Foreign Ministry, like other newly created Meiji government agencies, was initially very much directed by thegenrōand other dominant Meiji statesman, such as Iwakura, Inoue Kaoru, Ōkuma Shigenobu, and Mutsu Munemitsu. The ministry’s...

  6. 2 The Development of the Career Diplomat Nurturing China Expertise
    (pp. 45-78)

    While many leading Meiji diplomats, including Yanagihara Sakimitsu (1850–1894), who as first Japanese ambassador to China presented diplomatic credentials on November 30, 1874, were broadly active statesmen, by the turn of the century the dominance of the career diplomat at all levels of the Foreign Ministry was becoming evident. Even though in the prewar period the post of foreign minister and other upper level Gaimushō positions changed with the shuffling of cabinets and the flow of political currents, the position of foreign minister was almost always held by an experienced, professional diplomat, and virtually all ambassadors and consuls-general were...

  7. 3 The Japanese Consul in China
    (pp. 79-116)

    Japan’s advance to imperialist power status began in the late Meiji, partly fueled by competition with Western Great Powers in Asia and stimulated by the models of imperialism set by these same powers. But Japan’s drive for expansion, at least in terms of China, soon exceeded the model set by the extraterritorial rights of Western nations, indicating other forces internal to Japan at work. The Gaimushō agents in Chinese treaty ports for many decades mediated the tensions between the conflicting Japanese desires to conform, at least outwardly, to accepted imperialist status in the ports while at the same time surpassing...

  8. 4 The Gaimushō’s Loss in the Manchurian Incident
    (pp. 117-159)

    While the Gaimushō played a major role in enabling consular offices to be used as tools for Japanese imperialism in East Asia, the ministry also steadfastly maintained its identity as a diplomatic bureaucracy. Indeed, the Gaimushō’s insistence on perpetuating a consular function sanctioned by the international legal system precluded it from responding effectively to administrative changes in Manchuria. Unwillingly to radically alter consular duties, the Gaimushō could not play along with the competing structures of Japanese authority in the field. The result was the increasing exclusion after September 18, 1931, of the Gaimushō from Manchuria, the region of China most...

  9. 5 The Path to War The Gaimushō’s Continuing Loss of Control in China Affairs
    (pp. 160-207)

    The reduction in Gaimushō authority in affairs in the Northeast did not end with the Manchurian Incident nor did competition in Tokyo for authority in China affairs. The subsequent ongoing decline of Gaimushō legitimacy and influence in the 1930s had its basis in several trends. First, the pressure continued from outside agencies, particularly the army, to encroach further into Gaimushō jurisdictions. Second, the climate of public and press opinion of the Gaimushō in the post-Shidehara years was so harsh that the ministry, in a situation parallel to that of the political parties, found its very reason for being undermined. Third,...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 208-214)

    In its early years, the Japanese Foreign Ministry occupied a premiere position among Japan’s new government institutions, in part because it was the chief agency responsible for the relations with the West that were so central to both the domestic and foreign goals of the Meiji state. The institution and its mainstream bureaucrats came to be Western-oriented, founding the tradition of orthodox Kasumigaseki diplomacy, which called for Japan’s cooperation with the leading Western powers: the United States and Great Britain. This foreign policy tradition remained closely identified with the Foreign Ministry both domestically and internationally, even when Axis-oriented diplomats dominated...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 215-262)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 263-280)
  13. Index
    (pp. 281-294)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-297)