Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Japanese Informal Empire in China, 1895-1937

The Japanese Informal Empire in China, 1895-1937

Peter Duus
Ramon H. Myers
Mark R. Peattie
Banno Junji
Barbara J. Brooks
Alvin D. Coox
Peter Duus
Albert Feuerwerker
Nakagane Katsuji
Kitaoka Shin’ichi
Sophia Lee
Ramon H. Myers
Mark R. Peattie
Douglas R. Reynolds
Mizoguchi Toshiyuki
William D. Wray
Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 496
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Japanese Informal Empire in China, 1895-1937
    Book Description:

    Building upon a previous study of Japan's colonial empire, this volume examines the period from 1895 to 1937 when Japan's economic, social, political, and military influence in China expanded so rapidly that it supplanted the influence of Western powers competing there. These fourteen essays discuss how Japan's "informal empire" emerged in China and how that "empire" influenced Japan's own internal development. "Describes in rich detail Japan's organization of a wide range of cultural, educational, economic, military, and bureaucratic institutions that formed the mainstays of Japanese influence in China along with the trading, manufacturing, intelligence-gathering, and political intriguing which they managed."--Wen-hsin Yeh, The Journal of Asian Studies

    Originally published in 1991.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4793-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction Japan’s Informal Empire in China, 1895–1937: An Overview.
    (pp. xi-xxx)
    Peter Duus

    What so often obfuscates the study of modern imperialism is the fact that not every imperialistic relationship is necessarily a colonial one. Since the onset of the industrial revolution, the ability of one country to dominate another is often a function of greater economic development rather than sheer military strength, and the boundaries of empire do not always align themselves with where the map is painted red. Imperialist expansion can, and often does, take less visible and less direct forms than territorial conquest. As Ronald Robinson and John Gallagher pointed out in a classic essay, any attempt to understand nineteenth-century...

  5. PART I: Trade and Investment

    • [PART I: Introduction]
      (pp. 3-9)

      The rapid expansion of the Japanese economic presence in the informal empire in China during the first three decades of the twentieth century was nothing short of extraordinary. Whether one measures that expansion by value of foreign assets, direct investment, total trade, number of firms, size of resident population, or shipping tonnage, it is clear that Japan had caught up with or surpassed Great Britain by 1930 (table 1.1). In China south of the Great Wall, British investments, estimated as balance sheet values, still exceeded Japan’s by a 2:1 ratio.¹ But if the values of foreign assets in all of...

    • CHAPTER 1 The Changing Pattern of Sino-Japanese Trade, 1884–1937.
      (pp. 10-30)
      Mizoguchi Toshiyuki

      Japan underwent a remarkable economic development between the Meiji Restoration and World War ii. The rapid growth of foreign trade was a key factor in this development. Because Japan had few raw materials to sustain rapid industrial growth, foreign sources of supply like China had to be found and developed. Modern technology, too, was acquired by importing machinery and equipment from the West. To earn the foreign exchange to buy these goods, Japan had to produce what foreigners wanted badly enough to buy. Trade, therefore, was an important two-way traffic.

      Yet the role of foreign trade in Japan’s economic development...

    • CHAPTER 2 Japan’s Big-Three Service Enterprises in China, 1896–1936.
      (pp. 31-64)
      William D. Wray

      During the decade between the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars, Japan’s key service firms rapidly built internationally integrated trading networks. By providing commodities that Japan lacked, China played a key, and sometimes decisive, role in the strategies developed by these service firms and in the operations of their international networks. The most important of these firms were Mitsui Bussan (Mitsui Trading Company), Nippon Yūsen Kaisha (nyk, Japan Mail Steamship Company), and the government-controlled Yokohama Shōkin Ginkō (Yokohama Specie Bank). The services they performed for manufacturing industries helped to change Japan’s industrial structure by expanding opportunities for manufacturing in Japan. These service...

    • CHAPTER 3 Zaikabō: Japanese Cotton Mills in China, 1895–1937.
      (pp. 65-100)
      Peter Duus

      A passenger on the starboard side of a steamer sailing up the Whangpoo (Huang-pu) River into Shanghai in the mid-1930s could scarcely have failed to notice the serrated roofs, towering smokestacks, and loading docks of the great cotton mills along the opposite riverbank. At the western edge of the International Settlement along the southern side of Soochow Creek there was another equally impressive cluster of mills. The observer might have discovered to his surprise that many of these mills were owned by Japanese companies, not British. The British might dominate the clubs and racetracks in the foreign city, but there...

    • CHAPTER 4 Japanese Imperialism in Manchuria: The South Manchuria Railway Company, 1906–1933.
      (pp. 101-132)
      Ramon H. Myers

      At 2:00 p.m. on September 4, 1905, Gotō Shimpei and three companions arrived at the Mukden railway station, having just come from Taipei. Several officers from the Japanese imperial staff headquarters met them and gave Gotō a horse. He quickly mounted and began galloping toward the city’s north gate, where the Japanese military headquarters was located. When his companions finally caught up, they found him “engaged in a heated conversation” with General Kodama Gentarō, chief of the military staff in Manchuria.¹ Two days later, Kodama returned to Tokyo to join the Katsura cabinet. Gotō spent the next week touring southern...

    • CHAPTER 5 Manchukuo and Economic Development.
      (pp. 133-158)
      Nakagane Katsuji

      Although Japan’s leaders tried to project Manchukuo as an independent state, Manchukuo’s leaders and their policies were completely subordinated to Japanese control and interests. Japan’s leaders hoped that Manchukuo would serve to counter the Soviet Union and the force of Chinese nationalism. But more important, imperial Japan intended to launch the industrialization of Manchukuo at a pace unprecedented in mainland China’s economic history.¹

      After briefly describing the region’s development before 1945, this chapter examines policy making in Manchukuo, discusses economic planning and control, traces the financial flows from Japan to Manchukuo, and, finally, evaluates how the Manchukuo government promoted that...

  6. PART II: Culture and Community

    • [PART II: Introduction]
      (pp. 161-165)

      By 1930, not only had Japan begun to emerge as the paramount foreign presence in China, its citizens made up the largest foreign population in the treaty port communities and in the interior. As Mark Peattie’s chapter shows, in certain ways the Japanese community in China resembled the rest of the foreign community there. Like the other foreigners, most Japanese lived apart from the indigenous population (except for those Chinese who sought residence in the foreign settlements), governed by their own officials and protected by their own police. Like the other foreigners, the Japanese tried to create islands of the...

    • CHAPTER 6 Japanese Treaty Port Settlements in China, 1895–1937.
      (pp. 166-209)
      Mark R. Peattie

      With a history of cultural contact with China that spanned more than fifteen centuries, Japan nevertheless came late to China in the nineteenth-century scramble to establish a foreign presence in that grand, decaying empire. By the time that modern Japan first opened diplomatic and trade relations with China in 1871, the West had been inside the gates of that country for three decades: a score of treaty ports had been opened to an aggressive and dynamic new order based on the principles of extraterritoriality and strengthened through nearly two decades of diplomacy, trade, and military force; Western merchants had founded...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 7 Training Young China Hands: Tōa Dōbun Shoin and Its Precursors, 1886–1945.
      (pp. 210-271)
      Douglas R. Reynolds

      For China, the years from 1900 to 1945 were the worst of times, some of the most turbulent in its long history. For students at Tōa Dōbun Shoin in Shanghai, judging by their fond memories and recollections, they were the best of times. This chapter looks only incidentally at the good times of the students; its main interest lies in their alma mater—Japan’s “largest cultural facility outside of Japan and its colonies,” and “by far” its oldest external institution of higher learning.² Its particular concern is threefold: the background of Tōa Dōbun Shoin (how it was founded, why it...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Foreign Ministry’s Cultural Agenda for China: The Boxer Indemnity.
      (pp. 272-306)
      Sophia Lee

      Cultural exchange has become a regular feature of diplomacy in the twentieth century. Officially sponsored opportunities for education and research, and performances in the arts are often touted as one of the more civilized aspects of international relations. However noble the ideal, cultural diplomacy is in reality an alloy of pure self-interest and avowed altruism in variable proportions (some would claim that it is simply a clever ploy to cloak self-interest in the haze of altruism). Whether or not the presence of altruism is verifiable, cultural diplomacy is undeniably fraught with tension between the desire to seek knowledge and express...

  7. PART III: Experts and Subimperialists

    • [PART III: Introduction]
      (pp. 309-313)

      Although Western involvement in the collective informal empire in China contracted during the 1920s and 1930s, the role of the Japanese expanded dramatically with the Manchurian incident. That event marked the beginning of an attempt to abandon the institutions of informal empire for more direct and visible forms of political control in China. What role was played in this process by those Japanese most familiar with and affected by conditions in China?

      As a number of scholars of imperialism have argued, the expansion of an imperialist metropole is often not the result of political or economic pressures at home but...

    • CHAPTER 9 Japanese Industrialists and Merchants and the Anti-Japanese Boycotts in China, 1919–1928.
      (pp. 314-329)
      Banno Junji

      The economic interests of small Japanese merchants and the large Japanese spinning companies in China were very different in the 1920s. Similarly, Japanese exporters at home and Japanese merchants and industrialists in China had different interests.¹ For these reasons, the activities of these different interest groups exerting pressure on the decision making of the Japanese government may also have differed. Japanese parliamentary democracy was at its height in the 1920s. This new openness made it possible for business associations to exert more power to influence the government and the opposition parties. It is not surprising, then, that these new domestic...

    • CHAPTER 10 China Experts in the Army.
      (pp. 330-368)
      Kitaoka Shin’ichi

      Prior to any analysis of China experts within the Imperial Army of Japan, such as that of their policies, ideas, roles, and backgrounds, it is necessary to find out who they were. This is not easy at all. The army was a much bigger organization than the Foreign Ministry, for example, and was concerned much more deeply with China problems than most other political institutions. Many officers had worked in China and continued to have a keen interest in Chinese affairs. To be regarded as a China expert, one had to have spent much time there. However, it was not...

    • CHAPTER 11 China Experts in the Gaimushō, 1895–1937.
      (pp. 369-394)
      Barbara J. Brooks

      Japan’s remarkable and rapid progress from closed country in the 1860s to aggressive and autonomous expansionism in the 1930s is an historic phenomenon not yet adequately researched or understood, especially in terms of the more subtle, informal facets of the story. The explanation for the rise of this small non-Western nation must take into account the key role of its diplomacy and, within that, its Gaimushō (Foreign Ministry). The rapid development of this institution, following its inception in 1869, was keyed both to Japan’s initial priority of raising its diplomatic status vis-à-vis the Western powers¹ and to the overall Meiji...

    • CHAPTER 12 The Kwantung Army Dimension.
      (pp. 395-428)
      Alvin D. Coox

      Any discussion of the Japanese military garrison in Manchuria after 1905 must address the question of nomenclature and function. Until the 1930s, the force that came to be known as the Kwantung Army possessed a rather misleading geographical identification deriving from its historical antecedents and, more importantly, constituted an army in name alone. In Western usage, an army usually consists of at least two corps, each built around two divisions or more, in addition to organic and supporting troops and trains. Not until after the Manchurian incident of 1931–1932 did the Kwantung Army ever attain such strength.¹

      Although confusing...

  8. PART IV: Commentary

    • CHAPTER 13 Japanese Imperialism in China: A Commentary.
      (pp. 431-438)
      Albert Feuerwerker

      The chapters in this volume intentionally restrict their focus to the origins and operations of the principal China-based institutions established by Japanese imperialism, and to the impact of Japan’s China “empire” upon forces and conditions within Japan itself. These are, of course, central matters to any consideration of Japanese imperialism in China. But they do not, by far, exhaust the subject or the possible viewpoints and questions from which it might be approached.

      If the essays had been undertaken by Chinese scholars or by a group of experts on China, rather than by scholars of modern Japan, for instance, their...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 439-442)
  10. Index
    (pp. 443-454)