This article will be pubish may be up to 2018, from Ceanides-Association:Paris)
The First World War and Japan::From the Anglo-Japanese Alliance to the Washington Treaty
Dr. Hirama Yoichi
Rear Admiral, Ret.Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Russia’s Southward Advance and the Anglo-Japanese Alliance
From a historical and geopolitical view, the Korean peninsula has always been surrounded by powerful land-powers—Mongolia, the Chinese Empire, and Russia or the Soviet Union. For a long time, this Peninsula was a bridge connecting Japan and the Eurasian continent. It helped bring culture to Japan, but the Mongols and the Goryeo Dynasty also threatened Japan across this bridge. On entering the modern period, Japan maintained its security by allying with sea-powers against the land-powers.
Seeking ice-free ports, Russia built a coaling station in Jeoryeongdo, Korea, in 1888. Following the Triple Intervention, concluded in 1895, Russia leased the territory of Dalian and then began to show interest in the Korean Peninsula. As Russia increased its interference in Northeast Asia, Korea’s King Ko Jong leaned toward Russia. Japan negotiated with Russia and offered to recognize Russian dominance in Manchuria in exchange for Russia’s recognition of Japan’s sphere of influence in Korea. This resulted in the Yamagata-Lobanov Agreement in 1896 and the Nishi-Rosen Agreement of 1898. However, Russia ignored these conventions by deploying its military forces and financial advisors to Korea.
In 1896, the Russian cruiser, Admiral Nakhimov, entered the port of Inchon and invited King Ko Jong to stay in the Russian legation. King Ko Jong ordered the cabinet of the reform faction to dissolve, and he gave orders to kill reform and purge members of the pro-Japanese faction. Afterward, Russia sent three warships to the port of Masanpo, where they built another coal storage facility and leased Yongampo to establish a military base.
In response to Russia’s advance to Korea, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance was concluded in 1902. It enabled Japan to challenge Russian expansion without fear of French and German intervention. It won great prestige for Japan as it was the first alliance between an Asian nation and an advanced Western nation, even though it was not as much an equal treaty as a pact between a junior and a senior partner. The Japanese were very much delighted as the treaty fulfilled their dream of “prosperity and strong defense” which they had been working hard to achieve since the Meiji Restoration. There were, however, reasons for Britain to have abandoned her “Splendid Isolation” and step into an alliance with a small country in the Far East—her confrontation with Russia and Russia’s advance into China. Deeply involved in the Boer War, Britain was not in a position, even if she wanted, to increase her army in China to maintain her influence. Meanwhile, Britain could not depend on the United States which did not have many concessions in China or the capacity to send an army while she was putting 80,000 soldiers into the Philippines to suppress independence movements.
In the meantime, Japan had no clear idea whether she would choose Britain or Russia. Britain took the plunge to conclude the alliance with Japan after Ito Hirobumi’s visit to Russia. Britain had calculated Japan’s military power, especially her naval strength and logistical capabilities. At that time, the naval vessels of the major powers in the Far East was:
Japan Britain Russia France
Battleships 6(1_2nd class) 4 5(1_2nd class) 1(2nd lass)
1st Class Cruiser Armored) 7(6 new type) 3(2old type) 6 2(old type)
1st Class Cruiser protected) 4 2
2nd Class Cruiser protected) 10 8 1 5
3rd Class(Cruiser propected) 14 1
In Japan, logistical facilities such as the dry docks at Kure and the Yokosuka Naval Arsenals as well as the collieries at Miike and Karatsu were the only such facilities available in Northeast Asia. One clause of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, stipulating that “Mutual facilities shall be given for the docking and coaling of vessels of war of one country in the ports of others,” was added at British request.(1)
Russo-Japanese War and U.S.-Japanese Relations
On the night of 8 February 1904, the Japanese fleet under Admiral Togo Heihachiro opened the fire on the Russian ships off Port Arthur. A series of indecisive naval engagements followed until August, when the Russian Pacific (Far Eastern) fleet, hoping to deploy to Vladivostok, was defeated in the Battle of the Yellow Sea. Meanwhile, to weaken the Russian defense of the Lushun fortress, the Japanese Army under General Kuroki Tamemoto crossed the Yalu River into Russian-occupied Manchuria by the end of April, and the Japanese 3rd Army under General Nogi Maresuke captured the key bastion, Hill 203, in December. From this vantage point, long-range artillery was able to shell the remaining Russian vessels to destroy them in the port. After the Battle of Liaoyang in late August, the northern Russian force that might have been able to relieve Port Arthur had already retreated to Mukden. Major General Anatoly Stessel, commander of the Port Arthur garrison, surrendered on 2 January 1905.
With the fall of Port Arthur, the Japanese 3rd Army continued northward to reinforce the Japanese forces under General Oyama Iwao. The Battle of Mukden commenced on 20 February 1905. After three weeks of harsh fighting, on 10 March 1905, General Aleksei Kuropatkin decided to withdraw to the north. Having sustained heavy casualties, the Japanese lacked ammunition and reserve forces to destroy the retreating Russian army, so the final victory depended on the navy.
The Russian navy was preparing to reinforce the Pacific Fleet by sending the Baltic Fleet, under the command of Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky. The main squadron, renamed the Second Pacific Squadron, departed Libau on 15 October 1904 for a seven-month voyage to the Pacific via the Cape of Good Hope. It contained eight battleships, including four new battleships of the Borodino-class, as well as 30 cruisers, destroyers and other auxiliaries. During a stopover of several weeks at Nossi-Bé, Madagascar, that had been reluctantly allowed by neutral France, the demoralizing news that Port Arthur had fallen reached the fleet.
The Japanese Combined Fleet had lost two of its original six battleships to mines, but still retained its cruisers, destroyers and torpedo boats. By the end of May, the 2nd Pacific Squadron was on the last leg of its journey to Vladivostok, taking the shorter, riskier route between Korea and Japan. The Japanese engaged the Russians in the Tsushima Straits on 27–28 May 1905. The Russian fleet was virtually annihilated, losing twenty-seven ships including eight battleships, numerous cruisers and destroyers as well as over 5,000 men while the Japanese lost three torpedo boats and 116 men. Only three Russian ships escaped to Vladivostok.
The defeats of the Russian army and navy shocked Tsar Nicholas II, and he elected to negotiate peace. The negotiations took place in August in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and were brokered by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. The final agreement was signed on 5 September 1905. As a result, Russia lost the southern half of Sakhalin Island and many mineral rights in Manchuria. In addition, Russia's defeat cleared the way for Japan to annex Korea outright in 1910. The victory greatly raised Japan's international stature, but the Treaty of Portsmouth marked the last real event in the era of U.S.-Japanese cooperation that had begun with the Meiji Restoration in 1868. In the Russo-Japanese War, the United States supported Japan to check the Russian southward advance to China. Once the war was over, however, the military, racist groups, and Yellow journalism in the United States started to voice the threat of the Japanese “Menace".
World War I and the Anglo-Japanese Alliance
Japan entered World War I by declaring war on Germany on August 23, 1914. The Japanese navy and army soon moved to occupy the German East Asia Squadron base of Qingdao, German-leased territories in China's Shandong Province as well as the Marianas, Caroline, and Marshall Islands in the Pacific. During the war, the Japanese navy completely established sea control of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean for the Allied Powers. With Japan’s assistance, Great Britain was able to maintain its control of the sea-line communication in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean without any interruption.
To borrow the words of the Genro, or elder statesman, Inoue Kaoru, “the First World War was a miracle and a boon for expanding Japan’s exports and realizing its industrial modernization. However, in Britain there were great distrust and dissatisfaction toward Japan’s role in the war. The British negatively perceived Japan for having hesitated to co-operate and for demanding rewards despite being an ally. Britain’s Naval Attaché, Captain Edward H. Rymer, reported this dissatisfaction in his report on “The present situation of Japan”:
Every Japanese is an absolute Japanophile—an egoist who thinks about only himself and has no feeling of sacrificing himself for other countries.… The Japanese are not interested in War and Alliance. If we strongly suggest how Britain supported Japan in the past, what Japan should do as an ally, and Japan should have an obligation as an ally, Japan would desert us. If Britain conceded and begs for their support, the wise Japanese simply increases his complacency inwardly with doing well or the ignorant Japanese would simply increase his confidence and escalate his demands.… Japan was spellbound by money and blinded by the dream of being the leader in the Pacific.
Britain’s formal criticism of the Japanese might best be shown by the “Memorandum on Anglo-Japanese Relations”. This report was distributed at the Imperial Conference held in March 1917, one year before the end of the war, in Conclusion as follows;
‘Every Japanese is born and bred with ideas of aggressive patriotism, of his superiority to foreigners, of his national call to head a revival of the neighboring brown and yellow races. His success in the Russo-Japanese war had made these ideas a practical and living force in the national life. His Training, military and commercial, is on German lines, and his character appears naturally to assimilate German methods of organization and discipline. It is no exaggeration to say that he has become the Prussian of the Far East—fanatically patriotic, nationally aggressive, individually truculent, fundamentally deceitful, imbued with the idea that he is under a moral obligation to impose his own particular form of Kultur on his neighbors…………It is, and must, remain impossible to give gratuitously to Japan enough to satisfy her ambition. Should we not make up our mind that the moment will come when that ambition must be curbed by force ?’
This report also shows British criticisms and complaints. ‘Japan has proved luke-warm or actively disloyal to the Allied cause in the following ways:-.
1. She has permitted and even encouraged the use of her territory as a focus of intrigue on the part of the most active and dangerous Indian seditionists, and has placed every obstacle in the way of British authorities investigating the activities and preventing the passage by sea and subsequent arrest of such seditionists.
2. Up to the end of 1916 she had refused to adopt any adequate measures for suppressing the commercial activities of enemy subjects in Japan.
3. She has refused to curtail the profits of her own traders and industrialists by controlling the export of contraband articles which might reach the enemy, e.g., minerals to America, soya beans to Sweden.
4. She has permitted, if not encouraged, a series of violent press campaigns in opposition to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and to the adherence of Japan to the Allied cause, thereby casting doubt among neutrals as to the real solidarity of the Allies.
5. She has completely ignored the needs of this country for the raw material and manufactured products which essential for carrying on the war…
6. She has equally ignored our need to husband tonnage, and has protested continuously and violently against every attempt on the part of His Majesty’s Government to restrict unnecessary imports.
7. She has done her best –and with a large measure of success-to undermine our political position in China.’
This report also lists Japan’s contributions as an ally:
‘1. By Capturing Tsing-tao and destroying the principal German base in the Far East.
2. By seizing the German islands north of the Equator, and destroying the subsidiary bases there established.
3. By providing a naval force which co-operated in hunting down the German Far Eastern Squadron (Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, &c.), and providing escorts for Australian transports.
4. Subsequently, by providing two cruisers for the Indian Ocean, a destroyer flotilla for the Malacca patrol, and two cruisers to watch the German merchantmen sheltering in Chinese harbours.
5. Recently, by agreeing to allocate eight destroyers for patrol duties in the Mediterranean [finally two cruisers and twelve destroyers were sent], and two cruisers for the Cape Station.
6. By supplying munitions of all kinds to the Allies, and especially to Russia.
7. By taking up British and Russian Exchequer Bonds.
8. By redeeming some considerable protection of her external debt outstanding in France and England.
9. By providing, on two occasions, cruisers to convoy bullion from Vladivostok to Esquimalt.’ [Two escorts followed].
Foreign Secretary Edward Grey, however, evaluated Japan’s support during the war more favorably:
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 honorable 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.
The Japanese Responses and the Background
When World War I ended, Japan was internationally isolated. Anti-British feelings, touched off by Britain's high-handed Indian Policy, intensified the Indian refugee extradition issue. In July 1915 Indian independence hard-liners, Bhagawan Sing and Raj Bibari Bose, had defected to Japan as Britain tightened its control in India.
The Indian, Tarakanath Das and the Chinese professor at Shanghai University, Dr. Fan Chun Zong, asserted that because Japan could neither confront the Great European Powers alone nor acquire real allies in Europe, it would therefore be natural for Japan to seek allies in Asia. This idea of “Along with Asia” became influential in Japan. Dr. Okawa Shumei wrote The Present State and the Future of National Movements in India, in which he contended that the Indian people detested British tyranny, desired independence and expected Japanese help. The Japanese, Dr. Okawa wrote, had to bravely take on this holy task—Japan as an Asian leader had to acquire real power to spread justice throughout the world.
During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 Japan proposed a clause on racial equality to be included in the League of Nations Covenant. The clause was rejected due to opposition from the British dominions of Canada and Australia. This rejection helped turn Japan away from cooperation with West and toward nationalistic policies.
German propaganda efforts to spread anti-Japanese racial animosity among the Western countries were effective during the war and did not diminish after the war in spite of Japan’s contribution to the Allied victory. While the Japanese navy was escorting British troops in the Mediterranean, London refused to loan submarine detection devices to the Japanese destroyers and did not allow Japan’s liaison officers to handle crypto-logical intelligence. After the war, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance was increasingly viewed as of small benefit for Japan but of great benefit for the UK. Arguments concerning revision or abrogation of the alliance increasingly appeared in public in Japan.
After the war, why did the British and the Allied countries so quickly forget Japan’s assistance and why have Western naval history neglected Japanese contributions to the Allies? In Australia, Japanese loyalty and service were discredited by the First Naval Member, and a report titled the “Misleading Reference to Japanese Naval Action in the Pacific Ocean during the War” was submitted to Prime Minister William M. Hughes. Thus Japanese help quickly and completely disappeared from Western naval history.
After the Germans were eliminated in Northeast Asia, the Pacific was considered secured. However, for Australia and New Zealand, this simply meant that the German threat was replaced by a Japanese threat. Australia began prohibiting coloured immigration, even though many nations in Asia were suffering poverty due to overpopulation. Paradoxically, Australians feared that their policy of a “White Australia” might offer the newly powerful Japan an excuse for invasion. Japan’s occupation of the former German Pacific territories, despite the Versailles Treaty’s requirement that they not be fortified, had given rise to suspicions that these islands were being developed as bases to protect against America’s westward advance and to use for Japan’s southward advance toward Australia.
Meanwhile, British industrialists urged the annulment of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Soldiers and diplomats, dissatisfied with the amount of Japan's wartime cooperation, also pushed for annulment. In the British Parliament arguments intensified over ending the alliance, with many believing that Japan was planning to invade China by abusing the alliance.
The Anglo-Japanese Alliance was diluted in its significance, because their common enemies, Russia and Germany, were weakened and because Britain had made it clear to the United States that it had no intention of carrying out its obligations under the alliance. The alliance had become ineffective. But to avoid international isolation Japan wanted to continue with it and planned a cooperative arrangement with Britain. Britain also wanted to continue the alliance, fearing that if it were abolished, Japan would become a threat to its dominions such as Australia and New Zealand. Britain also hoped to use it as a diplomatic channel to settle conflicts of interest in China.
European naval power had been shattered in Asian waters, leaving Japan and the United States as the foremost powers. Japan and the United States, however, soon clashed on the Shandong issue at the Peace Conference in Paris, and tensions intensified with Japan’s continued dispatch of troops against the Red Army in Siberia and with the United States’ restrictions on Japanese immigration. Under the slogan of “Open Door” in China, U.S. diplomatic policy toward Japan during the Interwar Period sought to change Japan’s policies on the continent by directing international criticism toward Japan and by denying the reality of Japanese successes in China during the war.
Fearing that Britain would take the initiative, on 11 July 1921, President Warren G. Harding called for a conference to be held in Washington, D.C. France was added to the attending powers to prevent rapprochement between Britain and Japan. The resulting Four-Power Pacific Treaty was signed and simultaneously brought the Anglo-Japanese Alliance to an end. The Four-Power Treaty was a general agreement for recognizing and mutually respecting the rights of the four signatories toward the islands and territories in the Pacific.
Furthermore, the Nine Power Treaty, which protected Chinese interests and defined the principles of the ‘open door’ and equal opportunity in the Chinese market, was concluded. The United States annulled the Ishii-Lansing Agreement, which had allowed Japan to hold special privileges in China. Thus, by the events of the Washington Conference, the United States had succeeded in not only annulling the Anglo-Japanese Alliance but also in securing the safety of the Philippines. The United States had also gotten international recognition of the ‘open door’ and equal opportunity policies, which had been an objective since the days of John Hay. At the Washington Naval Conference, Japan also signed the Five-Power Naval Disarmament Treaty. By this treaty, Japan conceded a 40 percent disadvantage in tonnage of capital ships compared to the United States and Britain. These three treaties established the so-called Washington Treaty System as a comprehensive, international, cooperative, peace organization.
The Imperial Defense Policy and Japanese Tendencies
In early Meiji-era, Japan’s navy took a secondary position to the army, both functionally and organizationally. In 1892, Lt. Commander Sato Tetsutaro (later Vice Admiral) wrote Teikoku Kokuboron [Theory on Imperial National Defense]. In this book, he insisted that the best defense was never to let a foe reach the homeland. He emphasized naval defense and foresaw Japan as a maritime nation. He argued that Japan should not involve itself in continental matters. Teikoku-kokuboron became the fundamental text for naval officers and influenced Japan’s population. The Japanese navy, however, could not change Japan’s national strategy preferred by many Japanese leaders, who envisioned their nation as the dominant continental power of Northeast Asia rather than as a leading maritime state. To gain standing, the navy utilized the doctrine of navalism—the idea of sea power, based on great battle fleets, was the key to national greatness propounded by the “Blue Water” school. Alfred Thayer Mahan gained the attention of Japanese naval circles. His The Influence of Sea Power upon History was translated and published by Suikosha, the naval officers’ professional association, in 1896.
Japan’s highest and most authorized formulation of military policy, approved by the emperor, was the Imperial Defense Policy as well as its allied documents, the forces Necessary for Defense and Imperial Defense Methods. These documents were first formulated in 1907, immediately after Russo-Japanese War.
In this policy, however, the strategies of the army and of the navy were split. The army insisted that Russia was preparing for revenge against Japan and was preparing the Siberian Railway to get back Manchuria. Considering the large casualties and cost of the Russo-Japanese War, the army quoted the public opinion that favored Japan’s maintaining her hold over Manchuria and Korea. Meanwhile, the navy upheld Mahan's maxim, “Sea power brings greatness for countries and prosperity for peoples.” Specifically, the navy’s slogan was to prepare “sufficiently for defense but not enough to attack." In the simultaneous adoption of the policies of Nanshin (southward advance) and of Hokushin (northward advance), the army foresaw Russia, while the navy made the United States, as potential enemies.
Having learned lessons from World War I, the policy of 1918 stressed an initial offensive operation to achieve a quick victory. The new thinking also recognized the need to move to a long-range, total war strategy, if the initial campaign failed to end hostilities. While Japanese strategists recognized the possibilities of a total war, they formed no concrete plan to prepare for one. With increasing demands for disarmament within Japan and throughout the world, the army and the navy parochially concentrated on building up their own separate forces.
The Defense Policy was again revised in 1923. The navy disagreed with the army’s strategy of northward advance because of U.S advances in China and friction with Great Britain, while the army declined to stand on the defensive in the North and strongly insisted on facing USSR and China. But both understood that Japan could not fight a total war without her significant control over Chinese resources. Thus the army and the navy were condemned to advance into Northeast Asia. The navy adapted a strategy of defense of the mainland and added the maintenance of sea communications between Japan and the Chinese mainland. However, no plan was offered for the possibility of the U.S ,USSR, Britain and China being united: it was noted to be ‘decided at that time’.
The Defense Policy in 1936 showed an even wider divergence of strategies between the army and the navy—the army saw the Soviet Union as a potential rival for control of the Asian continent, while the navy saw the United States as a potential rival for control of the western Pacific. Furthermore, Japan needed to prepare for possible conflicts against China and Britain, and the army and the navy both insisted on “the enclosed military power –The Force Necessary for Defense” for this purpose.
After being subjected to inferior ratios for capital ships at the Washington Conference and for auxiliary ships at the London Naval Conference, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s strategic thinking was preoccupied by the question of “how to contend successfully against heavy odds.” The navy formulated an “interception-attrition-strategy” to deal with American naval power by efficient utilization of airplanes, submarines and torpedo squadrons (cruisers and destroyers). The navy began to manage naval education and training，fleet formations，and armaments all with an American enemy—an overwhelmingly powerful one—in mind. This became their dogma by the late 1930s.
In evaluating Japan’s path to World War II, some suggest that Japan should have gradually developed its economic and industrial power and should have chosen Communist Russia as its main enemy. This would have kept Japan within the Washington Treaty System and would have avoided friction with Britain and the United States. But China at the time was in chaos and was ignoring international laws. Its central government had broken down, and multiple governments were competing for power. This produced constant civil war among war lords, between the Communists and the Nationalists as well as within the Nationalist Party itself. None were able to assume their responsibilities abroad. In Japan anti-Chinese feeling was roused, and state leaders agitated the population through journalism. The army and the navy also used this populism, to build up their strength.
Japanese Tendencies after the Washington Conference
What could Japan have done when she lost her strong partner? After the annulment of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which path could Japan have taken? Japan was isolated and had to take the option of independent armament. Vice Admiral Sato Tetsutaro wrote in 1933, that ‘Diplomatically, Japan must pursue peace in the Pacific area. Because this peace falls on the shoulders of Japan and the United States, which are both located on the North Pacific, whatever happens, Japan and the United States should not be hostile but must maintain peace by mutual cooperation so long as they exist. For this, mutual respect is important.’
After the annulment of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the Japanese navy still had a stronger affinity with Britain. This was indicated by the message sent from Naval Minister Admiral Kato Tomosaburo while staying in Washington as the plenipotentiary for the conference, to the Naval Deputy Minister: ‘Henceforth a system of civilian ministers will appear, therefore we must prepare for it. It should be similar to the British system.’
But, at the Peace Conference in Paris, the clause for abolishing racial discrimination was rejected because of opposition from Australia, a dominion of Japan’s allied country. Then the fortification of Singapore began immediately after the Anglo-Japanese Alliance was brought to an end. These developments portrayed an image of ‘ungrateful Britain’ to the Japanese people. Humiliating memories and dissatisfaction among those who participated in joint maneuvers became an issue, thus anti-British sentiment increased even in the navy, which was previously strongly pro-British. The reason for these aggravated anti-British feelings is explained by the Japanese navy’s Confidential document, as follows:
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 against China, the restraining of the Indian independence movement, the blocking of China's anti-foreign activities, and the 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 Paris Conference and the demand for the ratios of 5-5-3 for battleships at the Washington Conference, the return of Shandong, the annulment of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the conclusion of the Nine Power Treaty, and eventually to all-out oppression of Japanese trade.
The British door was closed to Japanese officers following the annulment of the alliance, so the Japanese navy gradually changed its destination for study abroad and technical transfers to Germany. As a result, the number of those who returned from Germany gradually increased in the navy. Admiral Sato's assertions changed. In his book, On Defense, published in 1934, he wrote, “Every alliance or agreement is based on one's own interests and never a pure spiritual combination. Therefore, whenever any difference arises in interests, a friend yesterday will be discarded almost without hesitation.” He also asserted the necessity of self-armament, stating, “Those who have no real power on their own cannot remain independent.”
One year before for the Naval limitation conference, Captain Yamashita Tomohiko and Lt. Commander Waraya Hidehiko who had studied in Germany presented a ‘Proposal to cooperate with Germany’ to the Naval Counselor Admiral Kato Kanji .
‘Promote an alliance with Germany, whose armaments are restricted and would be the only country to support Japan’s claim for equal armaments at the disarmament conference. Japan should renounce reparations from Germany, promote pro-Japanese feelings in Germany, and turn the disarmament conference to its advantage by collaborating with Germany to break the unequal armament of nations’.
The unfavorable Japanese naval ratios driven by an apparent conspiracy by the United States and Britain at the Washington and London Conferences brought the Japanese navy, which was increasingly dissatisfied with the Washington Treaty System, closer to Germany. During 1939 and 1940, a period in which crucial events (the 1st Nankin Incident, Jinsn Incident, Marco Polo-Bridge Incident, 2nd Shanghai Incident etc.) altered Japan's destiny, the pro-German faction, represented by those who had studied in Germany, became the driving force in the navy and had a large hand in its decision to join with Germany in World War II.
The Miscalculations of Annulling the Anglo-Japanese Alliance
The termination of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in August 1923 was a psychological blow to the Japanese. Japan was to remain without allies until the conclusion of the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy in 1940. Thus independent armament increased the military, strengthened the voice of the military and led Japan to become a country led by the military.
In concluding this paper, I would like to quote books of two people, first Winston Churchill's The Second World War: The Gathering Storm.
‘The United States made it clear to Britain that the continuance of her alliance with Japan, to which the Japanese had unctuously conformed, would constitute a barrier in Anglo-Japanese relations. Accordingly this alliance was brought to an end. The annulment caused a profound impression in Japan, and was viewed as the spurning of an Asiatic Power by the Western world. Many links were sundered which might afterwards have proved of decisive value to peace. At the same time, Japan could console herself with the fact that the downfall of Germany and Russia had, for a time, raised her to the third place among the world's naval Powers, and certainly to the highest rank. Although the Washington Naval Agreement prescribed a lower ratio of strength in capital ships for Japan than for Britain and the United States (five: five: three), the quota assigned to her was well up to her building and financial capacity for a good many years, and she watched with an attentive eye the two leading naval Powers cutting each other down far below what their resources would have permitted and what their responsibilities enjoined. Thus, both in Europe and in Asia, conditions were swiftly created by the victorious Allies which, in the name of peace, cleared the way for the renewal of war.’
Fredrick Moore, an American who served as adviser at the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C. for fourteen years, attributed the outbreak of the Pacific War to the annulment of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance eighteen years before.
‘I felt strongly that it was a mistake in foreign policy for the United States to press the British for a termination of their Alliance with Japan. The Alliance could not menace us. The charge that it could was, I thought, false... The Japanese were shocked by its termination... This was the beginning of the nation's turn toward independent action.... It opened the way psychologically for cooperation with Germany. It is, I think, even probable that had the Alliance between permitted to continue there would have been enough restraint kept upon the Army by civilian and naval influence in Japan to prevent the alignment of Japan with the Axis Powers. Because of the Alliance with Britain, Japan took part in the First World War on the side of the Allies. I am sure the termination of it was a blunder on the part of our people and Government.’
The Japanese Navy rose to be the third largest Navy by learning the idea of sea power from the “Blue water” school, especially from the Royal Navy. But under the influence of a strong continental political system and thinking from ancient China and Germany, co-prosperity with maritime countries was dropped in favour of a dream of ‘Great East Asian Co-Prosperity. Thus she fought with the maritime powers, the U.S.A and U.K, and invited the tragedies of the Pacific War .
(1)Gaimusho [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] ed., Nippon Gaiko Bunsho [Japanese Diplomatic Documents], Vol. 35
(Nihon Kokusairengo Koyokai, 1957), p. 86.
(2)Doc. (XC3347), Japan at War 1914-191- (British Embassy in Tokyo, 21 February 1918), FO.371-3233. Public Record Office, London.
(3)Doc.242.Memorandum on Anglo-Japanese Relations (Written for the Imperial Conference in March 1917), in British Documents on Foreign Affairs.Vol II,Part II, From the First to the Second World War. Series E, Asia, 1914-1939 ed. K. Bourne, A. Trotter & D.C. Watt (Frederick, Md., University Publications of America,1991),pp.218-227.
(4)Viscount Edward Grey, Twenty-five Years, 1892-1916 (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1925), Vol. 3, pp. 33-34.
(5)Kaigun Senshi [Naval War History] 3-4 Nen, Vol. 2, pp. 56-57, “Yahagi Senji Nitsushi [Yahagi War Dairy]”, National Ministry of Defense War History Center, “Indo-Jin Dasu ni Kansuru Ken [Issue on Indian Das]”, “Shinbun, Zatsushi, Torisimari Zatsuken Indo-Jin Torisimari no Ken [Control of Newspapers and Magazines: The Indian Activities]”, Japanese Diplomatic Achieves.
(6)Okawa Shumei, The Present States and the Future of National Movements in India Okawa Shumei Shu [Collection of the Writings of Okawa Shumei] (Chikuma-Shob 1975), p. 13.
(7)Ref. Kurono Taeru, Teikoku Kokubou Houshin no Kenkyu [A Study on the Defense Policies of Imperial Japan] (Sowa-sha 2000).
(8)Hirama Yoichi, “Japanese Preparations for World War II: Strategy and Weapons Systems”in U. S. Naval War College Review, Vol. LIV, No. 2 (Spring, 1991)pp.63-81.
(9)Inaba Masao Kakuta Jyun ed.,Taiheiyo Senso Heno Michi(The Road to the Pacific War) Kaisen Gaiko(Diplomacy to War) Shiryo-He(Historical Documments) (Asahi-Shinbun,1963),p.7.
(10)Imperial Navy Intelligence Division, “Why Anti-British Feeling Became Strong in Japan", Okubo Tatumasa, ed., Showa Shakai Keizaishi [History of Social and Economic History of the Showa-Period], (Daito Bunka Kenkyusho,1989), Vol. 6, pp. 133-134.
(11)“Proposal to cooperate with Germany”,Ito Takashi,ed.,Zoku Gendaishi Siryo(5) Kato Kanji Nitsuki[Modern Historical Documents(5) Diary of Kato Kanji](Misuzu-Shobo, 1994), pp.557-563.
(12)Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: Gathering Storm (London: Cassell ＆ Co. Ltd, 1948), Vol.1, p.13.
F. S. G. Pigott, Broken Thread-An autobiography (Gale & Polden Limited, 1950), p. 148.