Japan in the 1930’s Part II

From the conflict with China onwards, Japanese foreign policy has been very active and has recorded real successes. It basically pursued three objectives: the recovery of total freedom of action; the affirmation of the increased national power; the continuation of its Chinese policy.

According to SPORTSQNA.COM, the action aimed at the first goal was begun with the abandonment of the League of Nations (March 27, 1933) following the Genevan condemnation of 1933 (consequence of the conflict for Manchuria) and with the withdrawal of all diplomatic and military forces in the Asian sector.. The denunciation of the naval treaty of Washington followed in London (1935), and finally the recent renunciation of any form of collaboration (hitherto provided in Geneva, outside the political field), as a consequence of the motion condemning his current action in China. With regard to Italy, a manifestation of this regained freedom of Japanese politics took place in the refusal to apply the sanctions imposed against Italy and in the Japanese recognition of the Italian empire in East Africa, with the abolition of the Japanese legation in Addis Ababa and its transformation into a consulate general (2 December 1936). The political advantage of an association of its own forces with those of Germany in the struggle against communism (the VII congress of the Comintern had designated Japan as the next target of communist activity) led the imperial government to conclude, with Germany, the anti-communist pact (23 November 1936), based on a common – non-military – defense action. In publishing it, the express possibility for any country to join it and the absence of points against any state was underlined. But the Moscow government (which in 1932 had proposed a non-aggression pact to Tokyo, without ever having had a definitive answer) felt impressed and suspended the signing of the painstakingly reached agreement for the settlement of Japanese fishing rights in Russian waters (recognized to Japan by the Portsmouth Treaty). The situation, which seemed to precipitate also in connection with serious incidents that occurred on the Siberian border and to Japanese citizens in Siberia, gradually moved towards normality, to the point of resuming the usual physiognomy of Russian-Japanese relations up to now: constantly thesis, but not tragically decisive. With the protocol signed in Rome on November 6, 1937, the anti-communist pact became a tripartite agreement, as Italy is considered, by virtue of it,  a signatory to all effects of the original pact concluded in Berlin.

The attitude of unshakable energy in the different questions and various declarations of responsible men revealed the new political and military strength of the empire, even if in some ways they were harmed by the verbal excesses of the gen. Araki, in his capacity as Minister of War. A reflection of this new consciousness appeared in the relentless reaction to the almost universal wave of threats and reprisals against the so-called Japan trade offensive of 1932-33. And the law immediately enacted for this purpose forced the countries concerned to come to fair agreements. Later, on the occasion of the noise raised by the head of the press office of the Foreign Ministry, who believed (April 1934) to be able to proclaim, with regard to China, a kind of Monroe doctrine for the East Asia in favor of Japan, there was the unequivocal statement Hirota, Foreign Minister: “with respect to the treaty of the nine powers and the principle of the open door, but it is inadmissible for Japan, even within the framework of this act, to tolerate a exploitation of China by another power for its own particular ends “. Finally, the categorical request for absolute equal rights with England and the United States intervened for technical reasons, but also as an exponent of national dignity. This essentially means making the world understand that the axis of the Far East has now shifted towards Tōkyō.

The Tanghu armistice (May 31, 1933) put an end to the armed conflict with China for Manchuria, which now included Jehol in the newly created state. Concluded between the respective military representatives, it contemplated the creation of a demilitarized zone and the establishment of a Chinese police force, reserving the right to monitor, by air or other means, the execution of the agreements for Japan. A year later, rail traffic resumed normally and issues relating to the postal and customs service were gradually resolved. Relations between the two countries thus seemed to be moving towards a point of conciliation. Hirota, on his assumption of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, manifested conciliatory dispositions towards China, however, enunciating as essential conditions for their realization the suppression of the anti-Japanese movement, the common struggle against communism, the Chinese recognition of the Man-chu kwo, the full economic collaboration between the three countries. At the beginning of the year (1935), Hirota confirmed these statements and his Chinese colleague Wiang ching-wei responded to them with promising sympathy. General Dohihara, the omnipotent personality of the Kwan tung headquarters, approached Hu Han-min, head of the Southern movement, trying to mitigate his obstinate nippophobia. In May, the two governments, following the example of Italy, decided to raise their respective diplomatic representations to the rank of embassies (England, France, Germany, the United States followed). But the clear sky did not last long.

Japan in the 1930's 2