By J. Davidann
The seeds of the Pacific warfare are available scattered in the course of the interwar interval. This research of unofficial international relations from 1919-1941 illuminates reasons deeply rooted and infrequently neglected in explaining the trail to conflict: cultural perceptions on either side, the pivotal position of public opinion, and the deterioration of Japanese-American relatives on either the person and the cultural degrees.
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Extra info for Cultural Diplomacy in U.S.-Japanese Relations, 1919-1941
Clan politics had its origins in premodern Japan. Warlords who were the heads of the ruling clans of the various regions controlled the political system. Many Japanese believed that the Japanese government was still controlled by the two clans who had overthrown the Tokugawa in the Meiji Restoration, the Satsuma and Choshu. Ruling through bureaucrats who were not accountable to the Japanese people, clan politicians were considered a major danger. This was not an issue of more democracy but whether Japan’s government ruled as the constitution specified or through some extra-constitutional and unelected clique hidden behind the scenes.
Other scholars argue that Japanese soldiers were imitators of samurai in their self-sacrifice and devotion to nation. This argument carries more weight but must be understood within the context of the rise of Japanese nationalism in the late nineteenth century. The samurai were loyal to their lord and region and did not have a modern concept of a Japanese nation. Only in the era of modernity when loyalty was inculcated nationwide through public schools, nationwide media, and military training was deep loyalty to the Japanese Emperor created.
Perry sailed into Yokohama harbor in 1853 forcibly opening Japan to the West. Later in 1858, the Americans and Japanese signed an unequal treaty similar to the Chinese unequal treaties. The initial opening of Japan by the Commodore Perry and his black ships in 1853 was a shock. This shock could be interpreted in many ways. Maruyama Masao the famous postwar interpreter of Japanese modernization construed it as a positive shock that pushed Japan to modernize itself on the Western model. The Perry expedition was interpreted more negatively by other Japanese as an early blow in a war of Western imperialists against East Asians that put Japan at risk.