Rise of Imperial Japan: COMICS! Leading to Pearl Harbor

These comic strips summarise the rise of modern Japan after the Meiji Restoration. Events till the Pearl harbor are covered.


The rise of Japanese militarism in the 1930s was due to many factors. Firstly, the emergence of Shintoism in the late Tokugawa era provided Japanese militarism with the ideological foundation. Japanese people were the offspring of Sun Goddess. Hence they were racially superior to other nations.


The rise of Japanese militarism in the 1930s was due to many factors. Firstly, the emergence of Shintoism in the late Tokugawa era provided Japanese militarism with the ideological foundation. Japanese people were the offspring of Sun Goddess. Hence they were racially superior to other nations.


The rise of Japanese militarism in the 1930s was due to many factors. Firstly, the emergence of Shintoism in the late Tokugawa era provided Japanese militarism with the ideological foundation. Japanese people were the offspring of Sun Goddess. Hence they were racially superior to other nations. The motives for racial superiority lie with the Japanese belief in the mythological origins of their land and people. In spite of China’s traditional cultural dominance of Asia, Japan has a long and proud tradition of unique cultural achievements in arts, philosophy and religion. However, China’s influence in Asia has historically forced Japan to search for an independent identity and place within that shadow.

Along with Japan’s emergence as the premier power in Asia, there was a corresponding realization that China had all but collapsed politically. Further, events of the recent past seemed to suggest that the West was also beginning to wane. The fragmentation of politics, the destruction of the First World War, the rise of material culture, individualism, and the dehumanizing effects of industrialization, all appeared to herald the eminent collapse of Western culture. More concerning to the Japanese was the consciousness that the corrupting influence of the West was so pervasive and globally penetrating, that a collapse threatened to pull the entire world into the void along with it. In light of this, Japan felt the need as the new, young and vibrant cultural center to extend its influence from being the premier Asian power, to become the premier world power as well. The desire for more global influence did not imply merely a political control of territory, but a power over ideology, ethics, and culture as well.


In December 1937, the Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking. Within weeks, more than 300,000 Chinese civilians were systematically raped, tortured, and murdered--a death toll exceeding that of the atomic blasts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Using extensive interviews with survivors and newly discovered documents, Iris Chang has written what will surely be the definitive history of this horrifying episode. The Rape of Nanking tells the story from three perspectives: of the Japanese soldiers who performed it, of the Chinese civilians who endured it, and of a group of Europeans and Americans who refused to abandon the city and were able to create a safety zone that saved almost 300,000 Chinese. Among these was the Nazi John Rabe, an unlikely hero whom Chang calls the "Oskar Schindler of China" and who worked tirelessly to protect the innocent and publicize the horror. More than just narrating the details of an orgy of violence, The Rape of Nanking analyzes the militaristic culture that fostered in the Japanese soldiers a total disregard for human life. Finally, it tells the appalling story: about how the advent of the Cold War led to a concerted effort on the part of the West and even the Chinese to stifle open discussion of this atrocity. Indeed, Chang characterizes this conspiracy of silence, that persists to this day, as "a second rape."



Japanese militarism and imperialism steadily developed for five principal reasons. Although all five reasons existed from early in the Meiji period to the start of war in China in 1937, the relative importance of these reasons differed depending on the time period. The first two reasons, Japan's desire to be a Western-style imperialist power and Japan's concerns for its security and safety, played important roles in the growth of militarism up to the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. The next two reasons, Japan's belief in its leadership role for Asia and Japan's frequent provocations by Western powers, gave rise to an expansion of militarism and imperialism from 1905 to the 1930s. The final reason, Japan's desire to secure its economic interests, rose in importance as Japan entered the decade of the 1930s.


Shintoism provided a religious justification for nationalism and support for the militaristic government. Shintoism before the 1930's was primarily a nativistic religion which stressed nature and harmony. But during the 1930's it became a ideological weapon teaching Japanese that they were a superior country that had a right to expand and that its government was divinely lead by a descendant of the sun god.


The London Treaty and Japan's rejection by large European powers at the Versailles
conference angered many in the military who felt that Japan was being denied its place at the table with the great powers. This lead to a disenfranchisement with the parliamentary government who the military felt had capitulated to the western powers in treaties and by stopping its colonial expansion during the nineteen twenties.

Japanese militarism occurred not by an organized plan but rather through passive acceptance by the Japanese public. A compliant Japanese public coupled with a independent army were two factors that pushed Japan toward militarism in the 1930's.

Childhood in Kanazawa: an interview with Yasuko Kurachi Dower, born in 1930s Japan

I was born in 1936. I was immediately aware of how rigid school was. It was military, even for first-graders. I remember my first day at school so clearly. All the students had to assemble in the assembly hall. The principal gave a speech about the emperor and the need to support him.
There was a tiny door on the stage, behind the principal. He opened this door of beautiful burnished wood. There was another door behind it. He didn't open that one. Behind that second door was supposed to be the emperor's picture. We never got to see it. It was too holy, too divine, to be looked at.
I got into trouble on that first day in school. We were told to look down the minute the principal touched the first door. We were not to raise our head to look at what was there. But I was too curious. I looked up. The teachers were all standing along the wall and picked out every student who looked up. We had to stand in the back of the assembly hall. Then we had to go on to the stage, say our name, and apologise. I have never forgotten that.
I really hated this military discipline. I could not understand why you couldn't look up. It was an ordinary neighbourhood school, but all the regulations were very strict. I strongly resented these rules.
Source: Guardian

Circumstances favourable to the rise of militarism - by the late 1920s., a number of developments accelerated the rise of militarism in Japan. In the first place, China by 1928 was on the verge of being unified by Chiang Kai-shek. A unified and strong China could threaten Japan’s position in Manchuria where the Kwangtung Army was stationed. Apparently, the Nanking government was trying to bring Manchuria back into China’s control. The Manchurian warlord, Chang Hsueh-liang defied Japan by associating himself with the Nanking government. In the eye of the militarists, Japan had to act fast in order to safeguard her vested interests. Consequently, in September 1931, the Kwangtung Army took independent action and seized control of Manchuria.

Another significant factor was the effects of the Great Depression on Japan’s economy. This world-wide depression led to a collapse of international trade because each country raised protective tariffs to protect her own interests. This development was fatal to Japan’s economy which depended heavily on export trade. Thus, between 1929 and 1931, Japan’s exports dropped 50%, unemployment reached 3 million, and peasants’ real income dropped one-third as a result of falling prices for silk. Then, there was a failure of rice crop in 1932. Such rural distresses intensified the discontents of the army officers, many of whom had connections with the rural population. They blamed the party governments in power and believed that parliamentary policies were ruining Japan. Consequently, there was a popular support for military adventures. Many Japanese believed that overseas expansion was an effective solution to economic problems. In short, the economic crisis made the nation desperate for military expansion. Thus took place the Manchurian Incident in 1931.



Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Popular Articles On This Site



Points To Ponder


It is difficult to distinguish between the quality of both the German and Russian soldiers. Both were motivated by their love for their motherland. But there were others factors that drove the two sides to such desperate fighting.

One, both sides knew that this was a no-holds bar war. Not fighting was thus not an option.

Second, both Hitler and Stalin had squads that killed any deserter. Turning away from fighting was just not possible.

Thus was seen some of the most bitter, brutal and desperate fighting on the WW2 eastern (Russian) Front.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana


"Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.'
--Mao Zedong


"The main thing is to make history, not to write it."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite."
--Winston Churchill


"In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers."
--August Bebel

"God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best."

Quotes about War....

"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war."
---Otto von Bismarck


"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
--Hermann Goering


"To conquer the enemy without resorting to war is the most desirable. The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy."
--Tzu Sun

"All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?"
--Emperor Hirohito