Japanese pre-war imperialistic activities from the late 1890s to 1945 were motivated by the ambition of expanding the boundaries of its outer territories for resources by colonizing neighboring countries: Taiwan (1895-1945), Korea (1910-1945), Micronesia (1914-1945), China (1931-1945), and southeast Asia (1942-1945) such as the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma and other areas. The aim of this paper is to introduce and discuss how did Japanese imperialism shape East Asia between 1910 and 1945, which is the period of that Japan has regression in many East Asia countries, by viewing the aspect of militaristic/political, economic and cultural hegemony. Therefore, the structure of this discussion is going to be divided into four main parts which are included the influences of that Japanese imperialism dominated the polity, economy and culture of four significant colonies, which are Taiwan, Korea, China and southe...
ast Asia, between 1910-1945.
The Japanese colonization of Taiwan was divided into three periods: Armed Uprising (1895-1919), Non-violent Resistance (1919-1936) and Resumption of Military Rule (1936-1945). Thus the period of 1910 to 1945 have come through these three periods. In the first period, there are two persons resisted to the Japanese imperialism, Lin Shao-mao who was executed in May 1902 and Yu Ching-fan who rebelled from 1907 through 1915. Before 1919, Japanese imperialism sent military governors to Taiwan with absolute executive, legislative and judicial powers conferred by the Japanese Diet. During this period, there were more than 100 uprising in Taiwan in addition to tens of thousands people dead. Also, Japanese imperialism began to bring their system and culture to Taiwan in this period. The investigation of the old Taiwanese customs was carried out and they revised old Taiwanese laws
and regulations with enacted new ones to pave a way for smooth Japanese colonization of Taiwan. Besides these, three major foundation projects was developed:
- scientific survey of flat lands for tax collection purposes,
- railroad construction to connect the west coast formerly separated by east-west rivers,
- modernization of Keelung and Kaohsiung harbors with railroad terminals.
1919-1936 is the period of Non-Violent Resistance in Taiwan. Following the end of the World War I, there was a wide spread of nationalism in the Third World. For instance, the Korean independence movement in 1919 forced Japan to adopt a new policy of "Japanese extensionism" to extend her cultures to her colonies. Under such a new policy, civilian governors of Taiwan were appointed. Since 1920, the Japanese Empire began to phase in a public policy of " Industrial Japan Proper and agricultural Taiwan" to meet the needs of the growing population in Japan. In 1930, the empire further introduced her industrial plan to satisfy the requirements of her military expansion to China and Southeast Asia, thus forcing Taiwan to play the role as a war base. This period non-violent resistance was broken out in Taiwan. The New People Association, formed in 1919 to claim the Japan Diet to establish an independent Taiwan Parliament, which existed between 1920 and 1934.
The Taiwan Cultural Association was set up in 1921 to send experts to make speeches around Taiwan to give guidance to Taiwanese. Afterwards, right-wingers of the association broke away and established the Taiwan Commoners Party in 1927, the first of its kind in Taiwan. Also other civic organizations such as Taiwanese Federation of Farmers Unions, Taiwanese Federation of Workers Unions and even Taiwanese
Communist Party took part in the non-violent resistance against to the Japanese imperialism. But the Japanese colonial government banned those organizations.
The Taiwan government was led by militarists once again since 1936. Under the Japan's "Super National Defense" and "General Mobilization" policies, Taiwan was placed in the wartime system of Japan during World War II. Due to the general mobilization purposes, the Japanese Empire, following its radical assimilation policy, forbade Taiwanese from maintaining their old customs and encouraging them to speak the Japanese language and to use Japanese-style names. Controlled by the militaristic government, Taiwan became a source of soldiers. A mandatory military system was introduced during this period and many people were sent to the war effort since 1942. Again, Taiwan played a role as a war base for Japanese southward adventure.
Korea, the same as Taiwan, was one of the colonies of Japanese imperialism during 1910-1945. At that period, Japanese Empire had some contests with China and Russia over Korea. Between 1910 and 1919, Korea was ruled under military. Political apparatus of colonial domination was pretty strong before 1919. Japanese overdeveloped bureaucracy of highly authoritarian kind, for instance there was a strong police force as many as 14,000 policemen existed in 1919 Korea. And Japanese imperialism used that police force to suppress any unrest brutally by killing them. More than 7,000 Koreans were killed during the suppression of March 1, 1919 nationalist movement. The hatred of the Japanese was appeared led by the mass expropriation of land by the Japanese imperialism. On the other hand, Korean landlords, who were the main suppliers of rice for export in Korea, have collaboration with Japanese. Therefore, because the
reaction became more and more enthusiastic, anti-Japanese attitudes were becoming main basis for growing national consciousness.
The second periodization of that Korea was ruling under Japanese Empire was 1920-1935. As China became new Japanese periphery since 1930s, Korea and Taiwan were less tightly. Thus Japanese imperialism carried out the assimilation in Korea. Similar patterns of educational goal and practice were employed by the Korea Government-General since Japan annexed Korea in 1910. In 1911 the Korea Education Rescript was legislated, stressing cultivating in Korean children qualities of Japanese nationals and diffusing the national language. The same emphasis on ethics education, as the Imperial Rescript on Education stated, and Japanese teaching was employed as the educational goal in Korea as well as in Taiwanese education. Revision also was made several times. The third revision in 1938 abolished Korean language teaching, leaving it voluntary and stressed the teaching of imperialization/Japanization in the curriculum contents.
From 1930s to 1945, Korea was colonized in an imperial subjectification period. Militarism became a fashion all around the world. Therefore, more and more roads, railroads, telegraph lines and factories were built in order to supply sufficient resources that Japanese used during World War II. Even some Koreans were sent to Japan to work in factories. In a word, Korea was the subordinate of imperial Japan between 1910 and 1945.
As we all know, for nearly a hundred years China has been a semi-colonial country jointly dominated by several imperialist powers and Japanese imperialism was one of them. The activities for Japan imperialism aggression to China were begun with the Twenty-one Demands signed by Yuan Shih-kai, the arch-traitor of that time in 1915. Thus Chinese people fight
against Japanese imperialism as a result. Later, the Incident of September 18, 1931 began the present stage of Japan's colonization of China. At the beginning, Japanese aggression was temporarily limited to the four northeastern provinces. But Japanese imperialists had shown their intention of penetrating south of the Great Wall and occupying all China. For instance, Japanese attacked Shanghai, which is one of the most important cities in China, in 1932. Since 1933 the Japanese aggression was spread to further south quickly and they occupied many other cities.
Eventually, War of Resistance against Japan was broken out as militaristic Japan attempted to extend its influence from Manchuria into China after 1937. Although Chinese had stand up and fought against Japanese imperialism, the gap of the power between China and Japan at that time was very large. Japanese imperialism had left lots of evidences of international crime in China. Since the Incident of September 18, 1931, Japanese imperialism began to regress China, in about 14 years, and they had committed cruel war crime as well as anti-humanity crime. In Manchuria, Japanese put fascist colonialism in practice.
In northern and middle of China, Japanese occupied many places and destroyed thousands of constructions including buildings, roads and even civil houses. Many families were separated with a large amount of children had to be homeless or dead. The most incredible action of Japanese regression was happened in Nanking. Japanese imperialism introduced "Burn all, Kill all and rob all" policy in Nanking and about 300,000 peoples were killed. During those 14 years, China lost more than 35,000,000 peoples including civil people and soldiers and had an economic lost over 600,000,000,000 US dollars, which
is an astronomical figure for us even now.
However, Chinese people did not give up to carry out the resistance movement against Japanese imperialism until Japan surrendered in 1945. China alliance with Russia after first year of resistance against Japan and Russia sent some munitions, advisors and supplies to help Chinese people. Also, there were many outstanding Chinese armed forces, such as New Fourth Army and Red Army, did lots of significant contributions to the War of Resistance against Japan. Statistically, Chinese armies destroyed about 1,550,000 Japanese imperialistic soldiers, about 1,283,000 Japanese soldiers surrendered.
Japanese imperialism did not only take action of military to China but also take action of culture. They forced all the Manchuria students to learn Japanese language and used Japanese names, just like they were doing in Korea. In addition, since 1910s, Japanese had over 200 million US dollars invested in China and did over five times trade in China than other colonies. To some extent, during 1910 to 1945, Japanese had brought some advanced technologies to China in the aspect of industrial and cultural.
Following the frantic colonialism, Japanese imperialism extended its talon to the Southeast Asia from 1942. Since then, Japanese occupied Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Burma and other areas successively. Here just let us to take Singapore to be an example, which was the first Japanese colony in Southeast Asia. The Japanese occupied Singapore from 1942 until 1945. They designated it the capital of Japan's southern region and renamed it Shonan, meaning "Light of the South" in Japanese. All European and Australian prisoners were interned at Changi on the eastern end of the island-the 2,300 civilians at the prison and the
more than 15,000 military personnel at nearby Selarang barracks. The 600 Malay and 45,000 Indian troops were assembled by the Japanese and urged to transfer their allegiance to the emperor of Japan. Many refused and were executed, tortured, imprisoned, or sent as forced laborers to Tailand or Sumatra.
Serious disruption of not only the economy but the whole fabric of society marked the occupation years in Singapore. Food and basic materials were in short supply since the allocative trade that Singapore depended on to provide most goods was severely curtailed by the war. But because of the time that Singapore was regressed was not the long as that Japanese did in Taiwan, Korea and China, the economy and civil system was rebuilt quickly after Japan surrendered. And since 1980s, Singapore became one of the four richest countries with HongKong, Korea and Japan in East Asia.
To sum up, Japanese imperialism influenced almost all the East Asia deeply between 1910 and 1945. On one hand, Japanese brutal regression destroyed the industries, economies and social system of many poor countries such as Taiwan, Korea, China and Southeast Asia countries. They killed millions of people and changed the order of those poor countries' society, which was the intention that Japanese wished to shaped East Asia as its territory.
On the other hand, to some positive extent, Japanese had developed East Asia's cultural and industrial technology and brought many investments to East Asia more or less, which pushed other countries forward. But anyway, the activities all Japanese imperialism did for other East Asia countries were cruel and harmful and people who lived or used to be lived in those under-colonized countries will
not forget that huge disaster for them forever.
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