The Anglo-Japanese Alliance and World War I
1. The Occupation of Tsingtao
On entering the war, the Tsingtao operation was carried
out. 870 soldiers from the South Wales Borderers Second Battalion stationed
in northern China under the command of Brigadier N. W.Barnardiston, landed
23-24 September. The Japanese side assumed that the British troops’ first
battle would be around Mt. Shihmen three days after they landed . But this
plan was cancelled by the British who proposed to stay at Puli from the
25th and to prepare for battle there. After the battles at Kushan and Fushan,
the British acquired half of the 36th Indian (Sikh) Regiment of 450 men
and reached the front line. Thereafter, for a month the British and the
Japanese prepared for a full-scale offensive and launched an all-out attack
on 31 October. But the British force did not move. 1 The Japanese units
concluded 'it was hard to trust you as war comrades if you permit only
our troops to engage in the fighting at this time...', that 'the British
army was baggage' and 'no more than decoration on the battlefield.' 2 Consequently,
Japanese newspapers and magazines reported that: British soldiers were
different in nature from Japanese soldiers and were excessively elegant
(cautious) when it came to launching joint operations. Only when nothing
happened were British soldiers wonderful and it was like taking a lady
on a trip. However, such a lady can be a burden and lead to total disaster
for a force when the enemy appears. Such reports, when reported back to
Britain, generated considerable antipathy by the British public.3
On the other hand, the Royal Navy dispatched an old battleship
Triumph , a destroyer Usk, and the Delta, a hospital ship. The Triumph
which had 10" guns was, although old, great support for the blockade
in terms of firepower and in landings greatly aiding the IJN which was
short of shells. Lieut. Cdr. Yamanashi Katsunoshin, who was dispatched
to China Squadron Headquarters, evaluated highly the British commanders’
indomitable spirits, continuous observation of the whole situation and
superb activities by each of the ships (in terms of organisation as well
as training). Captain Yoshida Seifu, involved in the joint operation as
chief of staff at the IJN Second Fleet, praised British preparations, stating
that 'during this battle, the British ships did not use gun plugs even
in heavy rain. Every evening the electric circuits of each gun were checked.
The scrupulous attention to detail was impressive.' 4 This praise reflects
clearly the view that RN morale and fighting sprit was higher and more
positive than that of the British Army who were merely participating because
of political considerations. 5 Although possibly diplomatic language, the
Japanese side evaluated RN operations as 'entirely successful' and highly
valued its effectiveness and full of good faith.6
As Tsingtao collapsed and the German Eastern Squadron
lost its base, the objectives of the joint Anglo-Japanese naval operations
were achieved. According to the British official naval history of the war,
'the Tsingtao operation did not only bring special benefit to Japan but
also performed the utmost and best service she could render to the Alliance.7
However, the British Consul, Sir John Pratt, resident in Tsinan recalled
that the dispatch to Shantung was a perfect farce for the British. Professor
Ian Nish also wrote that the Tsingtao operation brought condemnation rather
than satisfaction between Japan and Britain until the war ended. 8 The
British political goal of increasing its reputation and its influence in
China was not achieved. Moreover, the fact that IJA made light of the British
Army’s contribution was constantly repeated. This was all reported to
Britain and caused strains on Anglo-Japanese relations which contributed
to the breakdown in relationships between the two countries.
2. Occupation of the South Sea Islands
Although the IJN wished to acquire the South Sea Islands,
they stated: 'we are suspending our Southern advance and will observe and
await developments in the situation.' 9 This was due to anti-Japanese feelings
in the USA, the request by the British Government for Japan to limit her
theatre of operations and also Japanese government policy was that the
occupation of Kiaochow Bay would be the main operation. On 13 August, a
report came through the IJN attache in London, Captain Abo Kiyotane, attending
a celebration for Japan’s participation to the War, that the IJN were
being asked to dispatch the cruiser Izumo to Mexico and to Esquimault due
to the shortage of naval forces covering the security of the coasts. 10
This was beyond Japan’s 'limited' theatre of operations. This prompted
Foreign Minister Kato Takaaki to assert to Ambassador Sir William C. Greene
in Tokyo that 'limited theatre of operations' could not be included in
the final notification. In addition, the minister protested, 'it [the request]
is against the limitation suggested [by the Foreign Office] … nowadays,
it seems that the communication among authorities in your country is unreliable'.11
Then, Kato instructed Ambassador Inoue Kaoru that due
to differences between the Foreign Office and the Admiralty and the contradictory
demands of the Foreign Office and the C-in-C China Squadron' agreeing
that the IJN and the RN exchange two of their ships', that Japan oppose
proposals. 12 Later on 18 August, Admiral Sir Thomas M. Jerram, C-in-C
China Squadron, reported that the German Eastern Squadron would gather
at Yap in the Marshall Islands. On hearing this, the IJN judged that 'our
assertion regarding the theatre of operation was acceptable to Britain'.
Thus the IJN instructed its Third Squadron to take 'immediate action to
secure the route from the south of Shanghai to the north of Hong Kong and
protect commerce' and instructed the captains of the cruisers Ibuki and
Chikuma to head for Hong Kong and carry out joint operations with the China
Squadron. The IJN also commanded the captain of the cruiser Izumo that
in order to maintain security off the North American coast, which was beyond
the 'limited theatre', he make Esquimault his base and 'protect the commerce
of the Empire and our friends at the North American coast - Immediate action'.
Furthermore, it was reported that the Admiralty directly
requested Cdr. Sakurai Masakiyo, stationed as an assistant attache in London,
to request the IJN to dispatch battle cruiser Ibuki and two cruisers to
surround and destroy the German Eastern Squadron: 'although if [the request]
were to be directed by the Foreign Ministry, I would be afraid to lose
a chance otherwise.' On 19 August, Cdr. Yamanashi reported the British
request for additional ships to be dispatched. This request without Foreign
Office instructions was considered by Admiral Jerram, who decided 'there
would be no need to ask the British government’s intention or consult
with the Ambassador in Tokyo'. 14 Under such changed conditions, the IJN
now determined to send one unit because of the Admiralty requests and the
battleship Satsuma commanded by Rear-Admiral Matsumura Tatsuo led the 2nd
Southern Squadron, comprising the second class cruisers Hirado and Yahagi.
By this reorganization, the Southern squadron Asama and Kurama, Tsukuba,
commanded by Yamaya Tanin, were renamed 1st Southern Squadron. These units
were directed to co-operate with the Australian Squadron.
The 1st Southern Squadron in particular was directed
'stay at the Eastern Caroline Islands as a temporary base and continue
preparations until something happens at the Marshall Islands'. Responding
to these instructions, Admiral Yamaya organized a combined landing party
to scout the situation on Yap. He indicated: 'this activity is not to occupy
enemy territory permanently. If the Germans appear, we will declare this
island is under the Japanese Empire’s authority. As soon as the scouting
mission finishes, we will leave the island and return to the ship by four
o’clock in the afternoon'. On the morning of 29 September, the unit landed
at Yap without any resistance and 'flew our flag after lowering the German
national flag'. The unit declared to the German governor on the island
that the island 'would be under our authority as long as the German squadron
keeps appearing' and then the unit seized official documents and weapons.
After lowering the naval flag, the unit went back to the ship at 3:10 p.m.
However, as 'the time was ripe for consideration of the
South Seas Islands under German control', on 2 October the Japanese Cabinet
debated whether the South Sea Islands should be occupied temporarily or
permanently. It was decided that the decision to opt for permanent occupation
or not would 'be determined depending on the subsequent situation' and
for the time being temporary occupation was agreed. Three days after the
cabinet decision, the IJN issued instructions to the 1st and 2nd Southern
Squadrons 'to occupy key locations on the islands and place a garrison
there'. The garrison 'will be replaced by troops dispatched from Japan
at an opportune moment.' 16
At that time, the German Eastern Squadron was situated
in the South Seas Islands area and the Emden was directed to the Indian
Ocean to maximize threat and damage to Allied marine traffic. As the First
Lord of the Admiralty Winston S. Churchill said, 'warships flying the Japanese
flag committed themselves to escorts for most of the transportation in
the Pacific and the Indian Ocean'. 17 In fact, the IJN dispatched the battleship
Satsuma, cruisers Kurama, Tsukuba, Hirado, Yahagi, Nisshin, Kasuga plus
two destroyers to the Southern Pacific from Canada in order to surround
the German Eastern Squadron at the Admiralty’s request. The IJN also dispatched
the cruisers Ibuki, Chikuma and Nishin to the Indian Ocean to deal with
the Emden. Britain now had to rely totally on the IJN for the security
of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and therefore had no reason or indeed
power to limit the activities of the IJN.
The RN may have been concerned that the willingness of
the IJN to co-operate would evaporate if the attempts, at the outbreak
of the war, to limit the IJN sphere of operations had remained in place.
Churchill’s telegram of 2 October thanked 'the crucial contribution' of
the IJN and reiterated an expectation of strong and continuous support.
The telegram was sent under the name of the Admiralty and the RN greatly
appreciated not only the main goal of the Japanese fleet in destroying
Germany’s key bases in the Pacific but also the IJN’s unlimited support
in areas such as searching for the enemy’s fleets, protecting commerce
and providing troop escorts ships. In addition, the congratulatory telegram
celebrating the victory at the Battle of the Falklands from Navy Minister
Yashiro Rokuro, Churchill expressed British gratitude for IJN support that
'we finally have victory in our hands after four months of joint operations…
due to the strong and continuous support by the Japanese navy. We ensured
the peace in a vast area of the sea from Mozambique to South American Continent
as the result of destroying the German Eastern squadron. Taking this opportunity,
we as the representatives of British and Australian navies would like to
express our appreciation for the unlimited and precious support by Japanese
3. Occupation of the South Seas Islands
and Mistakes by UK and Australia
The South Seas Islands were occupied by the IJN due to
both an unfavorable situation for Britain at this time in the war and the
strong desire and willingness of the IJN to occupy the islands. Yet it
ended disappointingly since the RN adopted the strategy of reducing its
naval power in the Far East. The British China Squadron lacked the ships
and power to pursue the German Eastern Squadron alone. On top of that,
Churchill’s operational leadership was inappropriate after the outbreak
of the war. By assuming that the German Squadron would return to Tsingtao
for supplies, the C-in-C China Squadron was going to carry out a plan to
advance to a point that would prevent the German Squadron from returning.
However, Churchill ordered to Admiral Jerram that all ships stationed in
the Far East should meet at Hong Kong, just before an order was to be carried
out. Therefore, the deployment off Tsingtao was cancelled and all ships
gathered at Hong Kong 1,000 miles south of Tsingtao. 19
Afterwards Jerome went into action off the River Yangtse
to block supply ships from Tsingtao. But the British squadron arrived after
coal and supply ships left there. Admiral von Spee therefore gained vital
supplies to sustain long-term operations from more than ten supply ships.
If Churchill had considered the anxieties of residents and had not ordered
the concentration of ships at Hong Kong, the German squadron would not
have been able to gather so many supply ships at Pagan Island and its activities
would have been greatly limited according to Peter Lowe. ‘Regarding Jerram’s
utilisation of his ships, Captain T G. Forthingham blamed too much emphasis
on planning to attack Yap and an underestimation of the ability of German
supply ships in Tsingtao to support the German Eastern Squadron thus precipitating
long-term activity by the German Squadron’. 20
As mentioned above, the dispersion of Anglo-Japanese
naval units was the result of the Hong Kong concentration command by Churchill,
Admiral Jerram’s misjudgment of the German Squadron leaving for the Indian
Ocean, 'Destruction' as the first priority of naval strategy and the inappropriate
use of their own naval units by Australia and New Zealand. These mistakes
gave great freedom of action to the Germans, invalidated the limited theatre
of operation of the IJN and provided the IJN with good reason to occupy
On the other hand, the RN did not land on Yap but bombarded
it on 11 August and again on 12 September since it was reported by Ambassador
Greene that an Australian force would be sent there and the IJN did not
have a plan of occupation. 21 The situation of Yap Island was unclear to
Jerram. Although the communication facilities were destroyed, there was
always a possibility that the system had been temporarily repaired and
was being used. Thus, the 2nd Southern Squadron had been asked to investigate
and landed temporarily when it was passing there. Having received a telegraph
from Britain that the Australian force had been dispatched, the admiral
Matsumura, Commander of the 2nd Southern Squadron was directed to 'complete
the procedure of the transfer of the Island'. 22
However, a mistake by Australian Minister of Defence
Geroge P. Pearce altered things completely. Pearce misinterpreted the telegraph
'Yap and others' as Yap and all of other Pacific Islands under German suzerainty.
He announced that the Japanese government had agreed to transfer these
islands to Australia and Australian forces would be sent to occupy these
islands until the end of the war.23 When he saw this newspaper report,
Foreign Minister Kato informed Ambassador Inoue that it was only Yap that
would be immediately transferred and that 'the British authorities should
attend to instructing Australian officials to correct the misunderstanding'.
Ambassador Inoue visited Foreign Secretary Edward Grey and
passed on this message on the 24th. But, two days previously a telegram
had arrived stating that the IJN objected to the transfer of Angaur and
Yap. Therefore, the dispatch of an Australian force might cause friction
between Britain and Japan. The Japanese occupation of Yap was only for
military purposes and Foreign Minister Kato also agreed that the resolution
of the territorial matter could be solved at the end of the war. Therefore,
the decision to dispatch an Australian force should be reconsidered in
order to maintain a smooth relationship between Japan and Britain, according
to Greene’s telegram.25
In addition, the RN lost two cruisers, the Monmouth and the
Good Hope when Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock was defeated by the
German Eastern Squadron at Coronel off the South-West American coast on
1 November. The RN now had to ask the IJN for support in order to seek
out and attack German Eastern Squadron. Faced with such a difficult war
situation, Churchill sent Colonial Secretary Lewis V. Harcourt a message:
'I am sure that there is no reason to make Japanese navy repulse from the
Yap Island and this occupation is just military but not political. Australia
may push us for this matter but I would like you to hold it down. Naval
Ministry has gained the efforts by Japanese navy’s generous support and
would oppose any activity that might possibly cause misgivings or unpleasant
to Japanese navy. At this moment, we cannot afford to send cruisers to
the Yap Islands. It is also impossible to change our current plan.' 26
Harcourt on the 23rd and Foreign Minister Grey on 26th
wrote governor-general Ronald M. Ferguson of Australia the following: co-operation
between Japan and UK is mutually beneficial for both countries and the
Japanese navy’s support is sincere. Occupying the German territories in
the South Seas is to achieve the military goal and military consideration
has to be taken seriously during the war. Sending your force to Angaur
and Yap should be cancelled, as these territorial matters will be determined
after the war. 27 On 6 December, Harcourt also informed Ferguson as follows:
'currently the Japanese navy’s support is indispensable for our navy which
is short of strength while the Japanese government are strongly opposed
since the IJN has given so much support but gained nothing. I would like
you to convince other ministers to agree to give Japan the islands north
of the equator since you will have the Solomon Islands and others south
of the equator. 28 Thus Australia, through Defence Minister Pearce’s misunderstanding,
lost not only Yap but also all the South Pacific islands north of the equator
and this resulted in a great opportunity for Japan.
4. Rebellion of Indian soldiers stationed
Five days after Ambassador Greene had protested to Foreign
Ministry Kato against article 5 of the '21 Demands' on China, on the afternoon
the 15 February 1915, a rebellion of Indian soldiers stationed in Singapore
occurred at the Alexandria Barracks. A small party of Indian soldiers (about
25) stole weapons and ammunition and attacked the prison camp where Germans
were housed. They killed the commandant and officers there, stole weapons
and gave them to German prisoners. Then, the soldiers (about 400) advanced
into the town and some 17 White men and women were killed. In the afternoon
around 5:00 p.m., this force was repulsed by a force comprising 85 soldiers
of the Sultan of Johore’s private army and white volunteers, but the barracks
were surrounded and attacked.
By that time, most of the British units in Singapore had
been dispatched to the European front and those left behind consisted of
only 550 soldiers including the Sultan of Johore’s soldiers, while only
one gunboat Cadmus was available. Under such circumstances, the Governor-General
and Admiral Jerram, C-in-C China Squadron made a request to Japanese Consul
Fujii Minoru and Lt.Cdr. Araki Jiro, on the staff of the British China
Squadron, for volunteers and ships. Consul Fujii arranged a civilian and
sent 104 volunteer soldiers on 16th. On receiving the telegram about the
rebellion in Singapore, Rear-Admiral Tsuchiya Kanemitsu, C-in-C of the
IJN Third Fleet, aboard the cruiser Tsushima heading for Hong Kong immediately
rerouted to Singapore and also directed the cruiser Otowa, stationed to
watch for escaping German merchant ship off Manila Bay, at the request
of the RN, to head immediately for Singapore.
The Otowa reached Singapore on the evening of the 17th
and landed 82 marines. On the next morning, these troops, together with
men from the Cadmus attacked the rebels’ base, the Alexandria Barracks.
After occupying this without resistance, these units defeated the mutineers,
arrested 12 Indian soldiers and passed them over to the RN authorities.
As soon as the Tsushima arrived in port, a combined force from the Otowa
and Tsushima comprising 156 men was landed and they carried out city patrols
and provided escorts to the hospitals, the Alexandria Barracks, warehouses
from17-21 February. The number of soldiers dispatched to crush the riot
was 440 British soldiers (90 from the Cadmus; 200 regular soldiers and
150 volunteers plus 344 Japanese troops (including 186 volunteers ), 190
French and 42 Russian troops.
The reliable force available immediately after the riots
happened were 344 Japanese soldiers (158 from military units), the French
Montcalm’s 187 men and 42 men from the Russian merchant cruiser Orel which
had arrived in port the next morning. At the time the rebellion broke out,
its cause was unknown. Until 600 soldiers of the 4th Infantry arrived from
Rangoon, the force was small. Thus the RN was forced to rely on the IJN
as the main force for the assault on the Alexandra Barracks and for escort
duties after its occupation.29 The cause of the rebellion was considered
to be part of a German world conspiracy. Under these circumstances, Admiral
Jerram pointed out that 'the situation is very serious and inevitably a
great anxiety', and IJN ships patrolled threatening areas because 'people
were restless after the riot'. For all these reasons, ‘the existence of
Japanese navy must have been of “Utmost Value” to Britain. 30 On 25 February,
when a standing-down ceremony was held, the Governor-General praised the
IJN by citing Churchill’s speech in parliament where he stated 'your fleets
are "the most effective fleets" in the Pacific'.31 This incident
showed clearly the extent to which British security in East Asia was dependent
on the IJN at sea and on land.
5. The Dispatch of the Second Special Squadron to the Mediterranean
In 1916, Germany reinforced its submarine operations
against commercial shipping and inflicted even greater damage. On 18 December
1916, the Admiralty again requested Japan’s Foreign Ministry to provide
ships. They requested two of the four cruisers of the First Special Squadron
at Singapore to be sent to Capetown and four destroyers from this same
squadron to be sent to the Mediterranean. 32 This request caused 'a great
deal of concern within the IJN. They were advised by the Rear-Admiral Akiyama
Saneyuki that the allies needed further co-operation.' The cabinet agreed
to the request with the following conditions: Japanese shipping was also
being sunk and the IJN had to consider their own duty to protect themselves
and therefore any further requests would be rejected. As to the destroyer
unit (4 ships), there was the fear that they would be placed under British
command. The cruiser and the two destroyers units must be under independent
(IJN ) command.
The decisions received cabinet approval on 10 December,
but with the condition that the Japanese occupation of the South Seas Islands
be approved. 33 Meanwhile three days prior to the cabinet decision, the
IJN had instructed Rear-Admiral Sato Kozo. to board the cruiser Akashi
and 10th and 11th destroyers units(8 destroyers) and depart for Malta on
18 February 1917, and arrived at Malta on 13 April via Colombo and Port
Said. After that there was a request from King George V and the IJN sent
the 15th Destroyer unit by 1 June. Thus Second Special Squadron become
totally 17 ships, 1 cruiser, 12 destroyers, British made 2 destroyers and
The Second Special Squadron was based at Malta. This unit
carried out on direct escort duties for the most important (troop) transport
vessels of the allied armies on the Alexandria-Malta-Marseilles, the Alexandria-Taranto
and the Malta-Salonika routes. They were under the British C-in-C Mediterranean
who controlled transport, escorts and anti-submarine operations. There
were some 348 escort trips with the total number of escorted ships reaching
788 and the number of soldiers transported was around 700,000. This unit
containing the IJN ships contributed greatly to the war effort through
these activities as well as saving the lives of some 7,075 people from
damaged and sinking ships.34
COUNTRY WARSHIPS TRANSPORTS
Fig.1: Number of Allied Ships Escorted by Japanese 2nd Special Squadron
In the Mediterranean, there were anti-submarine ships
from UK, France, Italy, Japan and USA. The report by the C-in-C Mediterranean,
G. C. Dickens, to the Admiralty described the Italian navy as 'inefficient
and incapable of anti-submarine in terms of offence and defence. The Italians
limited themselves to defence off their own coast. Therefore we cannot
rely on its support.' The French navy, he said, had a positive attitude
but a problem with its organization. Hence, its operations could not be
trusted and lacked military common sense. The Japanese navy was wonderful
but small whilst the Greek navy was not taken into account. The US Navy
was active from Gibraltar to the Atlantic and so not available. 35 Although
escort duty was the main task for the IJN, the contribution may have been
exaggerated since the size of the units was small and not one submarine
was sunk. Nevertheless, the IJN escorted 100,000 soldiers from Alexandria
to Marseilles between mid-April and mid-June 1918 and also escorted Allied
troops from Egypt to Salonika at the end of September.
These efforts may well have had a considerable influence
on easing the tense military situation of the Allied armies at the time.
36 The following was reported to the Admiralty by Rear-Admiral George A.
Ballard, Commodore of the Malta naval base: we often have conflicts with
French and Italian navies about the policy of operation. But Commander
Sato always responds to our requests so that there is no problem between
the Japanese navy and us, which is satisfying. The support of Japanese
fleets is precious. The net working rate of French navy is low comparing
to British while the Italian Navy is much lower than French. But the Japanese
navy is different. The C-in-C Mediterranean, G. C. Dickens, reported: 'Commander
Sato always prepares his fleets to respond to my request and his officers
always practice their duty perfectly. … Needless to say, Japanese ships
are wonderful.' 37 The active duty rate (days at sea) for ships (the number
of actions/30days as one month) of Allied destroyers reached a maximum
of 60 per cent for the RN, 45 per cent for France and Italy, but the IJN
units were at sea reached 72 per cent.
The number of days at sea reached 25-26 days per month
and the cruise average was 6,000 miles per month. These events were noted
in the official naval war history that when lightning hit the Transylvania,
'in spite of the danger from the lightning they (IJN) performed courageously'
and saved 3,000 of the 3,600 passengers and crew. When lighting struck
the Multin, 'the unit saved all but one of the 664 people on board because
of their skilful operation.' The Times evaluated most highly the IJN ships’
speedy and courageous actions and concern: 'Speedy arrival and seamanlike
handling' and 'Good seamanship and the greatest rapidity of action'. 38
The activity of these IJN ships stationed in the Mediterranean had a significant
influence on the fighting as a member of the Allied militaries.
When Japan had received the request to dispatch ships
to the Mediterranean, they demanded that Britain guarantee to support the
Japanese occupation of Shantung and the South Sea Islands at the peace
conference: 'the previous cabinet limited the theatre of operations of
our navy so that we refused to dispatch ships. In consideration of this
the present cabinet needs a strong case to back a decision (to dispatch).'
In these negotiations, Ambassador Chinda Sutemi 'implied that the issue
of the dispatch will result in a deadlock' without this guarantee. Japan
then obtained a guarantee from Britain which would provide 'support for
the request that Japan submit regarding to Shantung and Islands of German
territories north of the equator.' 39 The strong desire to occupy German
Pacific Islands therefore influenced the decision to dispatch IJN ships
to the Mediterranean.
6. Anti-Japanese Criticism by Britain
To borrow the words of the Genro(Elder stateman), Inoue
Kaoru, 'the First World War was a miracle for the development and fortune
of Japan in the new Taisho era'. However, in Britain there was great distrust
and dissatisfaction regarding Japan’s role in the war. Japan was perceived
as having hesitated to co-operate and seemingly demanding reward for such
requests despite being an ally. Captain Edward H. Rymer RN noted this dissatisfaction
in his report on 'The present situation of Japan' as follows:40 Japanese
politicians claim that the alliance between Japan and UK is 'the Keystone'
of Japanese diplomacy. But Japanese basic rules for this war are, first
of all, pursuing the most economical benefit, and next considering international
relations after the war. That is to not cause strong anti-Japanese feelings
Thus, support for the allies would be made minimally.
These two rules control every activity by Japan. Although pro-German feelings
are too much, it is because Japanese leading academics, doctors and lawyers
learned from Germany and Japanese military was modeled on German military.
Especially, the defeat of the German military would devalue the evaluation
of Japanese military and this would be unpleasant. But, why have Japanese
applied German customs and methods? That is because Japanese consider that
applying German methods is the most convenient way to make money. Hence,
it is a mistake that Japanese are pro-German. Every Japanese is an absolute
Japanophile - an egoist who thinks about only himself and has no feeling
of sacrificing himself for other countries.
Japan does not accept the request of dispatching fleets
because dispatch would affect trading and lose benefit. Dispatch is against
the first rule that is to pursue the maximum benefit. Japanese are not
interested in us pointing out that Japan is not an undeveloped country
in East Asia but has a lot of responsibilities as a member of the western
camp. If we strongly suggest how Britain should support Japan, what Japan
should do as an ally, and that Japan should have an obligation as an ally,
Japan would desert us. If Britain concedes and begs for their support,
the wise Japanese would become complacent inwardly with doing well or the
ignorant Japanese would simply increase his confidence and escalate his
demand……Japan was spellbound by money and blinded by the dream of being
the leader in the Pacific.
In addition to this the British government received many
anti-Japanese criticisms and complaints not only from Ambassadors in Japan
and China but also residents there (especially traders). There were numerous
complaints of Japanese interference and limits placed on British traders
resident in China, pro-German speeches by high ranking government officials,
Japanese academics and journalists supporting Indian independence activists,
and entry and trading limitations in the South Seas Islands. According
to Ambassador Greene, who spent four years in Japan during the war and
dealt with four Japanese Foreign Ministers (Kato Takaaki, Honno Ichiro,
Goto Shunpei and Ishii Kikujiro), all adopted the same style of response
to British requests for co-operation. Namely, they either rejected the
requests immediately, rejected by saying that they would answer later or
waited for time to run out by saying that they have not yet considered
and thus reject.41 The collection of British formal complaints toward such
Japanese attitudes might best be shown by the ‘Memorandum on Anglo-Japanese
Relations’ distributed at the Imperial Conference held in March 1917 one
year before the end of the war. The memorandum noted the following:42
The Japanese possess fanatic loves of the nation, national
aggression and individualistic brutality and is full of deception. Japan
is an aggressor nation by nature. The Japanese believe that they have a
great political potential in the future. They were taught the idea of superiority
and that they are more superior race than any other races such as the yellow-skinned
race and the brown race. And, they consider it a moral obligation that
they force their own culture upon neighbouring countries. Is there any
room for harmonizing such Japanese aggressive ambition and British appropriate
demand? Japan and Britain are so far apart in terms of morality. As long
as British ideals and Japanese ambition are different, it is impossible
to build a common foundation between the two countries. As Japanese education,
commerce, organisation and rules have followed the German system, consequently
Japanese characteristics mirror the German-style. It is not an exaggeration
that Japan will become the Eastern version of Prussia.
It has been said that Japan has to expand. That is
true. However, why doesn’t Japan develop Korea, Taiwan, Manchuria and
Sakhalin? These districts should absorb the increasing population of Japan.
Regarding resources, Japan’s political aims in part involves the fall
of the British Empire so that there is no common purpose of co-operation
between Japan and Britain. If we cannot approve of such Japanese ambition,
we must determine that the time will come to stop Japanese ambition by
military force. The Alliance between Japan and Britain is built on sand.
Sooner or later, it is necessary to determine whether to take action to
stop expansion of Japan and become the faithful nation that took an honourable
and moderate course for the world, or whether to take action against Japan
by basically considering it as the eastern version of Prussia. This alliance
is the result of two racially and culturally different counties bound by
the fragile paper of a written provision.
7. The Japanese Responses and the Background
As Captain Rymer pointed out, the Japanese constitution
was modelled on the German and many Germans were invited to visit Japan.
Also a great number of Japanese who studied in Germany occupied important
positions in government. In addition, the IJA, which had great influence
on domestic politics, was modelled on the German system and had an underlying
pro-German feeling as well as an admiration for the German system. On top
of all this there was, semi-officially, a strong admiration for the German
ability to put up such a good fight against the Allied armies. In addition
to this pro-German feeling, there was an ongoing controversy over the Anglo-Japanese
Alliance amongst Japanese leaders where the national interests of Japan
were clearly in conflict with those of Britain.
The Anglo-Japanese Alliance had been a pivotal element
in Japanese foreign policy since the Russo-Japanese War. However, in 1907
a trade agreement was concluded with Russia, originally a target of the
Alliance. This caused a rift between Japan and Russia on the one hand and
Britain and the USA over the Chinai Railway. In 1911, the third Anglo-Japanese
revised agreement specifically excluded the USA. Japan had opposed Britain
over the demand for guarantees regarding the occupation of the Kuanwai
railway during the 1911 revolution. The pursuit of advantage in China led
to serious antagonism between Japan and Britain. Therefore there was a
movement to discard the alliance because of a growing distrust in its feasibility.
The Anglo-Japanese Alliance had, as one of its aims,
to maintain common benefits on China by protecting the independence and
the territory of the Qing dynasty and equal commercial opportunities for
the Allies. Yet when British attention was distracted away from China after
the outbreak of the war, Japan certainly strengthened its foundations for
business in China. There were only 966 offices of Japanese trading companies
prior to the outbreak of the war, but the number had increased to 4,483
in 1918 when the war ended.43 When Britain protested and challenged such
an aggressive expansion into China by the Japanese, they in turn protested
that Britain had 'no obligation to support' Japan in the event of a US-Japan
war whilst Japan had an obligation to protect India. As the Alliance increasingly
was viewed as of 'small benefit for Japan but a great benefit for UK',44
arguments concerning revision or abrogation of the Alliance increasingly
appeared in public in Japan.
Ultranationalist movements such as the Genyosha and Kokuryukai
had emerged at the time of Japanese modernisation. Such nationalist feelings
were influenced by race-related and independence-related activities of
Asian peoples triggered by the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War.
Opposed to the invasion of Asia by the Western powers, this Japanese nationalism
developed a new principle that Asian races should help each other against
the White races. Especially as Germany supported the Guadal party (the
independence group) financially in order to cause confusion in India, the
Indian independence group became very active. In 1915, July Indian Independence
hard-liners Bhagwan Singh and Raj Bihari Bose defected to Japan as Britain
tightened controls in India.
When the British government requested extraditing these
activists, the Japanese government nearly agreed. But Inukai Tsuyoshi(Kokumin-to),
Tokonami Takejiro (Seiyukai), Terao Toru(Professor of Tokyo University),
Oyama Mituru(Genyosha), Uchida Ryouhei(Kokuryukai), Okawa Shumei(India
researcher), journalists from the Asahi, Yamato and Kokumin newspapers
and so forth sympathised with the Indian activists and protected them.45
The Yamato newspaper criticised the government, stating that there was
no clause concerning the transfer of criminals within the Alliance agreement.
Even if the government had ordered these activists to be deported there
would be only five days to leave and there were only steamer services to
Shanghai and Hong Kong during this time. Hence, a deportation order whilst
'formally expelling' them was actually the transportation of criminals
and 'expelling foreigners for such hollow reasoning is a disgrace to national
dignity and national sovereignty'. In addition, the Yamato newspaper interviewed
these Indians and reported that the IJN had supported the suppression of
the Indian revolt at Singapore: 'the Japanese dispatched to the units stated
they had never dreamed of firing on rioting soldiers'. Such actions, the
newspaper reported, would have a 'serious detrimental influence’ on 100
million Indians and their feelings toward Japan afterwards. 'Japanese citizens
should keep this in mind'. 46
Meanwhile, the Indian Taraknath Das asserted that China,
Japan and India join together in a united Eastern peoples and needed to
prepare for coping with Western colonisation and 'race competition in the
future'. Although Japan had alliances with European countries, Professor
Fang Chun-zong at St. John University in Shanghai questioned whether Japan
would still manage to continue the alliance. He asserted that the alliance
between Japan and European countries was a mistake and Japan should act
for Asia with Asians. The issue of racial discrimination in USA and Australia
touched off this assertion which was increasingly welcomed in Japan. These
assertions above dealt with the argument: 'Japan alone fighting against
the Great Powers of Europe would lead to its extinction. However, it is
impossible for Japan to gain a real friend (ally) in Europe. Consequently,
it is natural for Japan to seek its real friend in Asia.'47 This Asian
principle of acting 'with Asians' increasingly separated Japan and made
Japan more passive in its support for Britain.
Although there were numerous British criticisms of Japanese
co-operation with Britain during the war, I should like to evaluate this
by reference to 'Memorandum on Anglo-Japanese Relations' at the 1917 Imperial
Conference mentioned above. This report was distributed at the conference
and shows the overall evaluation from a British perspective of the Japanese
contribution during the war times.
1) Benefits Japan gained from the Anglo-Japanese Alliance
*Secured the German right to the Shantung Peninsula and the German-held
South Seas Islands north
of the equator.
*Acquired the transfer of the Northern China railway and the fishery rights
along the coast of Russia.
Gained some privileges from the agreement between Russia and Japan but
weakened the Anglo-
*Acquired the right for Japanese doctors to provide medical treatment in the Malay Peninsula.
*Gained significant benefits from exporting weapons and ammunition to the Allies.
*Accelerated industrial development.
*Ensured the Japanese economic position by increasing exports towards India,
Australia, South Africa and Thailand while European countries were
too involved in the war.
*Gained 'a free hand' in China by supporting the southern military clique in China.
2) Unfaithful actions as an ally
*Protected Indian independent activists in Japan and failed to co-operate with British investigations.
*Took no appropriate measures to stop German commercial activities until the end of 1916.
*Did not make any effort to reduce trading with Germany through neutral nations.
*Did not restrain the protest against the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and created
a negative influence on
*Totally ignored the need to secure the raw materials Britain needed and
furthermore demanded from
Britain repeatedly war supplies such as iron and gold.
*Did not co-operate with British attempts to limit the import of unnecessary
supplies but obstructed
*Made great efforts to weaken the British position in China and succeeded.
3) Contributions as an Ally
*Occupied Tsingtao and destroyed the German base in the Far East.
*Occupied the German South Seas Islands and destroyed German support bases.
*Carried out joint operations such as escorting ANZAC troops to Europe
as well as helping to seek out and attack and destroy the German Eastern
*Sent two cruisers to the Indian Ocean and a destroyer to Singapore.Later
agreed to dispatch two
cruisers to Capetown and 1 cruisers and 12 destroyers were sent to the
*Supplied weapons and ammunition to Allied countries, especially Russia.
*Accepted government bonds from Britain and Russia, (later France).
*Escorted gold from Vladivostock to Canada twice (note: additional two
Secretary Sir Arthur J.Balfour, when asked in the USA
his views on the Alliance, recalled 'there were almost no cases where Japan
did not co-operate with British requests. Again, Foreign Secretary Grey
evaluated the actions of Japan during the war as follows: 'during the last
year that I served as Foreign Secretary Japan was always fair in her obligations
as an ally and in sharing the benefits. The Japanese government and Ambassadors
stationed in UK were honourable and faithful allies.' The First World War
was 'a great opportunity' for Japan to expand its territories. 'If there
were any European country like Japan which had surplus population and if
they needed territories, it is doubtful that they (the European countries)
would have managed to control themselves in the face of such an immediate
opportunity as Japan did.'48
However, Britain believed that the immature nature of Japanese
journalism, which reported carelessly and sensationally and instigated
anti-British feelings, was actually controlled by the Japanese government.
Thus, as described above, Britain always suspected the Japanese were not
keeping faith with them. In addition, Japan continued to pursue its own
national interests such as territorial rights and territorial expansion.
Japan at that time was also affected by the active psychological game being
played by the Germans who hoped to make Japan desert the Allies. In the
self-governing dominions of the Allied countries, in the USA and in the
UK, there was racial discrimination towards the Japanese. The Dominions
refused to sign the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation. There
was also the incident when the cruiser Yahagi was fired from a coastal
fort when entering Freemantle after her patrol duties.49 Under such circumstances
Japan’s responses were not necessarily unfaithful as Foreign Secretary
Grey pointed out.
Certainly Japan repeatedly claimed the possession of the
German Pacific Islands and obtained it. But Britain and her dominions got
not only African German colony, but also the Pacific Islands south of the
equator, New Guinea, New Britain, Solomon Island and Samoa. While, Japan
got only the North of German Pacific Islands which are just ‘a peace of
bread waste’ for Japan.While during the War, IJN established sea control
of the Pacific and Indian Ocean completely, and without Japanese assistance,
Great Britain would have lost control of the Pacific and Indian sea line
of communication. In the Mediterranean, at peak strength in 1917, the Japanese
flotilla numbered seventeen warships. But after the war, why did British
and Allies so quickly forgot Japan’s assistance, and why Western naval
history neglect this Japanese contribution to the allies.
The most obvious reason was the situation in the Pacific
after the War. After the War, The German threat to Britain’s Far East
possessions eliminated and the nascent Soviet Union no longer threatening
India, "The common enemy" disappeared and Japan became Britain’
“Most likely enemy in future conflict”.50 Hostile views of Japan prevailed
during the war by German propaganda of racial animosity of anti-Japanese
did not diminish during the struggle, despite Japan’s assistance. Beside
racial prejudice, naval rival animosity of Royal Navy and United States
navy were quickly re-emerged. In the Mediterranean while escorting British
troops, Japanese destroyers were not leased the submarine detection device,
and Japanese liaison officer’s were not allowed to handle with crypt intelligence
In Australia, Japanese devotions and services were denied
by the First Naval Member and report of the ‘Misleading Reference to
Japanese Naval Action in the Pacific Ocean during the War was submitted
to Prime Minister William M Hughes.51 Thus Japanese assistance are quickly
and completely disappeared from the western naval history after the war.
Then at the peace conference, the clause for abolishing racial discrimination
was rejected because of opposition from British dominion of Canada and
Australia. The unfavorable Japanese naval ratio compelled by an apparent
conspiracy by the U.S and British at the Washington conference, the fortification
of Singapore immediately after the cancellation of the Alliance developed
an image of “ungrateful Britain” to the Japanese people.52 The reason
for these aggravated anti-British feeling is explained by the Japanese
navy as follows53
Until World War I, Britain took full advantage of its relationship
with Japan, fully employing Japan’s military strength and goodwill at
all times, including the period of Imperial Russia’s aggression to China,
restraining of the Indian independence movement, blocking China’s anti-foreign
activities, and protection of its dominions after it concentrated its fleets
in the North Sea. Once peace resumed, however, its attitude suddenly changed
and Britain refused to give Japan even the slightest concessions .This
led to the Japanese isolation at the Washington conference. The return
of Shantung, the annulment of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, the conclusion
of the Nine Power Treaty, and eventually to all-out suppression of Japanese
trade.” Thus, both Japan and Britain walked on separate pass for collision
course to the disaster.
1 Rikugun Sanbo Honbu ed., Hi Taisho 3 Nen Nichidoku Senshi(Secret History
War of 1914), 2 vol. (Rikugun Sanbo Honbu,1916), vol.1, p.81, p.332
2 Rikugun Sanbo Honbu ed., Taisho 3 Nen Seneki Shoken Shu(Collection of
the Reports and
Observations on War of 1914)(Rikugun Sanbo Honbu,1915), p102, NIDS.
3 Doc.No.345, Abstracted of News Paper(August 1918), FO.371-3816, PRO.
4 Sakano Junji, ed, Takarabe Nitsuki Kaigun Jikan Jidai(Diary of Takarabe:Navy
Vice Minister Era)“,
2vol (Yamakawa Shutsupan, 1983), vol.2, p.374, Capt.,Yosida Seifu, Dai
1 & Dai 2 Kantai Senji
Nitsuki(War Diary of First and Second Fleet), NIDS.
5 Osaka Asahi Shinbunsha ed., Chintao Senki Hokushin Kansenki(Boxer’s
Rebellion and Capture of
Tsingtao) (Senki Meicho Kankokai, 1930) , p.32.
6 Letter from Capt. Rymer to Admiral Yashiro, Nichiei Kaigun Kosho Tuzuri:Taisho
3-6 Nen (Document
File of Anglo-Japanese Naval Negotiation File of 1914 to 17; hereafter
cited as Kosho Tuzuri), NIDS .
7 Julian S.Corbett, History of the Great War: Naval Operations (Lonndon:
Longmans, Green and Co.),
8 Jhon T.Pratt, War and Politics in China(London;Jonahan Cape Ltd.,1942),
p.137, Ian H.Nish, Alliance in
Decline:A study in Anglo-Japanese Relation 1908-1923 (London:The Athlone
Press, 1972), p.132,
9 Kaigun Gunrebu ed., Kimitsu Taisho 3-4 Nen Seneki Kaigun Senshi ( Top
Secret Naval Operation of
1914 to 15(hereafter cited as Kaigun Senshi)(Kaigun Gunreibu, 1919),
10 Ibid., pp. 400-01.
11 Gaimusho ed., Nihon Gaiko Bunsho Taisho 3 Nen, vol.3 (hearafter NGB
Taisho 3-3), (Gaimusho,
12 NGB Taisho 3- 3, p.147, p.167.
13 Kaigun Senshi 3-4 Nen, vol.1, pp.241-243,258-259.
14 Ibid., p.438, p.452.
15 Ibid., pp.286-88.
16 Ibid., p.320, also refer to Vol.5, pp.141-230.
17 Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis 1911-1914(London:Thornton Butterworth
Ltd., 1923), vol.III,
18 Message from Churchill to Yashiro’17 October 1914, Kosho Tuzuri, p.60,
Maritin Gilbert, ed.,
Winston S. Churchill: Documents July 1914-December 1916 (London: William
vol., 3, Part 1, pp. 247-8, 301-2.
19 Corbett, op.cit., pp.146-47.
20 Peter Lowe, Great Britain and Japan, 1911-1915;A Study of British Far
(London:Macmilan, 1969), p.176, Thomas G. Forthingham, The nval History
of the World War,
Ofenssive Operations 1914-15(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925),
21 Greene to Kato(12 October 1914), Ann Trotter, ed., British Documents
on Foreign Affairs:Reports
and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print, Part 3: From
the First to the Second World
War Series E, Asia, 1914-1939, Japan August 1914-1915 (hereafter cited
Publications of America, 1991), (Hereafter BDFA III-1), p.84, Ibid.,
NGB Taisho 3-.3., p.668, Telegram
from Naval Office Melbourne(25 November 1914), Ibid, Kosho Tuzuri.
22 Kaigun Senshi, vol.1, pp.498-499.
23 Ibid., NGB Taisho 3-3, p.670,
24 Ibid., Gaigun Senshi 3-4 Nen, vol.1, pp.498-99.
25 Ibid, NGB Taisho, 3-3, p.672, Doc.(74103), Greene to Grey(21 November
1914), G1: Governor’s
Records, N18: NZA.
26 Churchill to Harcourt(18 October 1914), Maritin, op.cit.,vol.3, part 1, p.203.
27 Doc.330, Doc.329, BDFA II-1, p.136, Telegram Sir Edward Grey(25 November
1914), Ibid., Kankei
28 Harcourt to Ferguson(6 December 1914), Nova Papers , No.4, ANA.
29 NGB Taisho 4-3, Ge, pp.1194-1205, Kaigun-Senshi 3-4 Nen, vol., 4, pp.380-388,
“Indohei no Bodo
ni Kanshi Houkoku(Report on Indian rebellion)” Taisho 4-Nen Kobun
Biko（Official Documents of
Supplement 1915）, vol.116, refer also Jerrame Papers General Letter
No.36, Jerram to Admiralty
(27 February 1915), NMM.
30 Letter Greene to Kato, Kankei Tuzuri, NIDS.
31 Op. cit. ‘Indohei no Bodo ni kanshi Hokoku’ p.1202.
32 Doc.No.96, No.102, NGB Taisho 6 Nen, vol.3, p.99, Doc.No. 217, Greene
to Balfour(27 January
1917), BDFA vol.II, Part 2, p.196.
33 Kaigun-Senshi Furoku Kmitu Hokan (Top Secret Supplementary File of the
34 Kaigun Senshi 4-9 Nen,vol.2, pp.288-313, Dai2 Tokumu Kantai Seiribu
ed. Nihon Kaigun Chichukai
Enseiki(Dai2 Tokumu Kantai, 1919), Also refer, Yoichi Hirama, ”Rising
Sun in the Mediterranean:The
Second Special Squadron,1917-1918,”Ufficio Storico Della Marina Maritare,
ed. The Mediterranean
as an Element of Maritime Power(Roma;Commissione Italiana di Storia
35 G.C.Dickson to K.G.B.Dewer(9 May 1917), Paul G.Helpern,ed.,The Royal
Navy in the Mediterranean
,1915-1918 (London: Temple Smith,1987),p.469.
36 Kaigun Senshi 4-9 vol.,2, p.314.
37 Ballard to Admiralty (21 August 1917), Calthorpe to Admirality(28 October,
1917), op.cit., Halpern,
38 Enseiki, op. cit., pp.239-40, The Times ed., The Times History of the
War(London; Times Publishing
Co.,1916), vol.XVIII, p.458.
39 NGB, 6-3, p.106, Greene to Grey(17 January 1917), ADM116 Box 1702, FO.371-2950, PRO.
40 Doc.(XC3347), Japan at War 1914-191- (British Embassy Tokyo, 21 February
41 Doc(No.33087),British Embassy Tokyo(21 Feburary 1918),FO.371-3233.
42 Doc.242, Memorandum on Anglo-Japanese Relations(Written for the Imperial
1916), BDFA II Part 2, pp.218-227.
43 Towa Kenkyusho, ed., Nihon no Taisi Toshi(Japanese Investment to China)
(Towa Kenkyusho, 1927),
44 “Nichiei Domei o Kaitei Subesi(Revise Anglo-Japanese Alliance)”, Dai
Nihon, vol.3, No.2, 1914
45 Refer to Soma Kuromitsu, Ras Bibar Bose(Takeuchi Takashi, ed.,Gendai
Nihon Sisoshi Ajia Shugi
(Modern Japanese History of Philosphy:Asianism(Chikuma Shobo,1963).
46 Yamato Shinbun(29 & 30 November 1915).
47 Indo-Jin Dasu ni Kansuru ken(Issue on Indian Das), Shinbun, Zatsushi,
Torisimari Zatsuken Indo-Jin
Torisimari no Ken(Control of News paper and Magazine: The Indian activities),
48 Viscount Edward Grey, Twenty-five Years, 1892-1916(London:Hodder &
Stoughton, 1925), vol.3,
pp.33-34, Nish, op.cit., p.262.
49 Kaigun Senshi 3-4 Nen,vol.2,pp.56-57,Yahagi Senji Nitsushi(Yahagi War Dairy),NIDS.
50 Report on the Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa on Naval Mission of New Zealand,
vol. III The Naval
Situation in the Far Eastern Waters, N1-104, NZNA.
51 Memorandum prepared by the First Naval Member for the Acting Priminister(June
52 Ito Masanori, Sotei Tekikoku(Hypthesis Enemy)(Sasaki-Shutsupan, 1926), pp.296-7.
53 IJN Intelligence Devision,”Why anti-British feeling becomes strong
in Japan”, Okubo Tatsumasa,ed.,
Showa Shakai Keizaishi(History of Social-Economical :Showa Period)
(Daito Bunka Daigaku, 1989),
vol., 5, p.133.
All these details, refer to my Dai 1ji Sekaitaisen to Nihon kaigun(World
War I and Japanese Navy(Keio University Press, 1998).