Japan and the League of Nations
Empire and World Order, 1914–1938
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
The guidance and assistance of others in this project on Japan and the League of Nations extends over a career in Japanese history. For help in the early stages during graduate school, I owe deep gratitude to Roger Hackett, Roger Dingman, Ernest Young, Bradford Perkins, Naomi Fukuda, William Hoover, Warren Cohen, and Jerry Voris Burkman. In the first stints of research and consultation in Japan, Hosoya Chihiro opened to me his Hitotsubashi...
The peace settlement following World War I gave birth to the League of Nations. Japanese diplomats labored with those of other victorious powers to fashion the constitution of the League, and the Empire of Japan joined the organization in 1920 as one of forty-two charter members and one of four permanent members of the League of Nations Council. Japan was active in League political, humanitarian,...
Note on Japanese and Chinese Names
1. The World War I Experience
“Heaven’s help in the new Taishō era for the fulfillment of Japan’s destiny.” With these words the Ōkuma Shigenobu cabinet welcomed the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in August 1914.1 The First World War had profound consequences for Japan. It created the unanticipated opportunity for the Empire to assert its claims to regional leadership and international equality. At the postwar peace conference in 1919, Japan for the...
2. The Idea of a League
The League of Nations movement in the West was spawned by the dream of lasting peace and the realization that international law was unenforceable by any mechanism then in existence. The League idea entered Anglo-American diplomatic correspondence as early as September 1914. Within a year the term “League of Nations” was in general use by the newly founded League to Enforce Peace (LEP)...
3. The Great Debate
The prospect of the Armistice brought the Foreign Ministry to the disconcerting realization that Japan’s preparation for the peace had ignored the Fourteen Points and formulated no position on President Wilson’s diplomatic program. The bureaucracy had narrowly focused its planning on concrete considerations of territorial expansion and economic rights. Ministry offi cials later recounted the rude...
4. Making the Covenant Palatable at Paris
Four of the five Big Power delegations arrived in Paris in January 1919 with their own draft versions of a League of Nations constitution in hand. The lone exception was Japan. While the establishment of the League of Nations led the peace conference agenda, it was a matter of low policy priority for the Empire. The projections of such internationalist diplomats as Komura and Makino notwithstanding, Japan’s ...
5. The Geneva Years
The League of Nations officially began its life when the Treaty of Versailles came into force on 10 January 1920. Acting from afar, the president of the United States — in accordance with the terms of the Covenant — summoned the first meetings of the Council and the Assembly. The Council was called fi rst and convened on 16 January in Paris, for facilities in Geneva would not be ready until the first...
6. The Japanese Face at Geneva: Nitobe Inazō and Ishii Kikujirō
Everyone who worked in the League of Nations Secretariat knew well what was meant by the “Geneva spirit.” The full poignancy of this ethos was apprehended by those who lived by the shores of Lac Léman. Sir Eric Drummond, Sugimura Yōtarō, Harada Ken, and William Rappard understood the ease with which nationals of diverse countries interfaced in their routine professional and social...
7. Crisis over Manchuria
When the 1930s opened, Japan had been a charter member of the League of Nations and a permanent member of the League Council for a full decade. Japan had served conscientiously and effectively, and its diplomats and lay members of the Secretariat had carried out their tasks with distinction. Carping could be heard at home that the League was a European club and too distant to be a reliable mechanism...
8. Japan as an Outsider
When he wrote his memoirs during the grim years of the Pacific War he had sought to avert, Ambassador Joseph C. Grew chose the date of 20 February 1933 as the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, with these words: Nobody could miss the political significance of Japan’s decision to quit the League of Nations. It marked a clear break with the Western powers and pre-...
Epilogue: Internationalism and International Organization in Interwar Japan
In the context of the World War I settlement, Japan joined the League of Nations. Japan remained connected until two surges of aggressive war with China, from 1931 and 1937, brought about a phased withdrawal from Geneva. To enter the League was not an easy decision in view of two general Japanese misgivings. One concerned the hegemonic proclivities of the powers that brought...
Index and About the Author
Publication Year: 2008
OCLC Number: 256837047
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