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Japan's Imperial Diplomacy

Consuls, Treaty Ports and War in China, 18951938

Barbara J. Brooks

Publication Year: 2000

In November 1937, Ishii Itaro, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Bureau of Asiatic Affairs, reflected bitterly on the decline of the ministry's influence in China and his own long and debilitating struggle to guide China policy. Ishii was the most notable member of a group of middle-level diplomats who, having served in China, strongly advocated that Japan adopt policies in harmony with China's rising nationalism and national interests. Japan's Imperial Diplomacy profiles this distinct strain of "China service diplomat," while providing a comprehensive look at the institutional history and internal dynamics of the Japanese Foreign Ministry and its handling of China affairs in the years leading up to and through World War II. Moving from a thorough examination of a wide range of primary sources, including the extensive archives of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, memoirs, diaries, and unpublished speeches, Japan's Imperial Diplomacy offers integrated interpretations of Japanese imperialism, diplomacy, and the bureaucratic restructuring of the 1930s that were fundamental to Japan's version of fascism and the move toward war. Specialists of China, Japan, comparative colonialism, and World War II diplomacy will find this well-conceived and carefully researched and organized work of first-rate importance to the understanding of modern Japanese history in general and Japanese imperialism in particular.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

I am indebted to a senior generation of scholars for the initial concept and guidance for this book. Marius Jansen has been a patient and attentive supporter from start to finish; I consider it one of my greatest fortunes to have been among his students. Although the project began at his suggestion, a few years later, Kurihara Ken, the senior scholar of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, shared his vision of the project with me in a conversation at the...

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pp. 1-14

On November 2, 1937, diplomat Ishii Itarō, head of the Bureau of Asiatic Affairs of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, noted in exasperation in his diary, “It seems that Fascism is happening here not by means of people but through institutions.”1 Ishii summed up trends he witnessed in the Japanese bureaucracy, although the immediate impetus for his remark was Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro’s announcement of the decision to create the Supreme...

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1 The Rise of Kasumigaseki Diplomacy: The Struggle for Autonomy

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pp. 15-44

The ordinances (shokuinrei) that set up Japan’s new imperial government in 1869 provided for the establishment of a foreign ministry. Within two years, the leading statesman Iwakura Tomomi assumed the post of foreign minister, in all likelihood to better assert the Foreign Ministry’s status as “first among the six ministries.”1 Because of the importance of foreign relations and treaty...

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2 The Development of the Career Diplomat: Nurturing China Expertise

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pp. 45-78

While many leading Meiji diplomats, including Yanagihara Sakimitsu (1850–1894), who as first Japanese ambassador to China presented diplomatic credentials on November 30, 1874, were broadly active statesmen, by the turn of the century the dominance of the career diplomat at all levels of the Foreign Ministry was becoming evident. Even though in the prewar period the post of foreign...

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3 The Japanese Consul in China

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pp. 79-116

Japan’s advance to imperialist power status began in the late Meiji, partly fueled by competition with Western Great Powers in Asia and stimulated by the models of imperialism set by these same powers. But Japan’s drive for expansion, at least in terms of China, soon exceeded the model set by the extraterritorial rights of Western nations, indicating other forces internal to Japan at...

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4 The Gaimushō’s Loss in the Manchurian Incident

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pp. 117-159

While the Gaimushō played a major role in enabling consular offices to be used as tools for Japanese imperialism in East Asia, the ministry also steadfastly maintained its identity as a diplomatic bureaucracy. Indeed, the Gaimushō’s insistence on perpetuating a consular function sanctioned by the international legal system precluded it from responding effectively to administrative changes in...

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5 The Path to War: The Gaimushō’s Continuing Loss of Control in China Affairs

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pp. 160-207

The reduction in Gaimushō authority in affairs in the Northeast did not end with the Manchurian Incident nor did competition in Tokyo for authority in China affairs. The subsequent ongoing decline of Gaimushō legitimacy and influence in the 1930s had its basis in several trends. First, the pressure continued from outside agencies, particularly the army, to encroach further into Gaimushō...

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pp. 208-213

In its early years, the Japanese Foreign Ministry occupied a premiere position among Japan’s new government institutions, in part because it was the chief agency responsible for the relations with the West that were so central to both the domestic and foreign goals of the Meiji state. The institution and its mainstream bureaucrats came to be Western-oriented, founding the tradition of...


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pp. 215-261


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pp. 263-280


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pp. 281-296

E-ISBN-13: 9780824863166
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824820626

Publication Year: 2000

OCLC Number: 645275685
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Japan's Imperial Diplomacy

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Subject Headings

  • Japan -- Foreign relations -- China.
  • China -- Foreign relations -- Japan.
  • Japan -- Foreign relations -- 1868-.
  • China -- Foreign relations -- 1644-1912.
  • China -- Foreign relations -- 1912-1949.
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