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Foreign Policy Analysis
#29 Japanese Imperialism

#29 Japanese Imperialism

Lecture 29: What events caused Japan to end its isolation and begin to westernize? So we’re going to take a look at how Commodore Perry ended the isolationism, the Meiji Era, and then the era of Japanese Imperialism Japan is an archipelago; it’s a series of islands. And if any foreigner landed there, they would cut their heads off. Japan was like China. They were very traditional, very xenophobic. But because they had an advantage of an island and a relatively smaller population They could prevent any foreign influence But lots of people wanted to control Japan because it was another market. It had good harbors, and the Americans were really interested in it. So, President Fillmore sends Commodore Matthew Perry into Yokohama Harbor. He fired off his guns in his steamships, and he really scares the Japanese And he threatened to use force if he was not able to meet with the highest ranked member of the government And ultimately the Japanese succumb, and they sign a treaty with the United States and this is called “gunboat diplomacy” So the United States and Japan introduce each other when the United States basically fired guns upon Yokohama Harbor So the Treaty of Kanagawa happens Japan opens up two ports to trade with the United States US opens embassy. In Japan, they get extraterritorial rights like the British gave to Chinese And now the United States becomes the power on the Pacific Rim And here are the countries on the Pacific Rim They are the countries that touch the Pacific Ocean So the Pacific Ocean is about twice the size of the Atlantic So if you control the Pacific Rim, you control a great trading empire. So the United States is becoming this imperial power once again. Now at this time, the next emperor in line, his name was Mitsuhito He was 15 years old, and he rules in a time called the Meiji Era in the late 19th century It is known as an enlightened era of rule and he looks at what happened to China and how the Opium War destroyed China And so he decides not to remain traditional he decides to westernize his country, and you can see he dresses like a European soldier here It’s an example of westernization, and he begins to massively industrialize his country. This has a huge impact, and this actually was the focus of a movie called the Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. So, what he does is he decides to increase the army and navy like the Europeans. He copies the best European army, the Prussians, and he really likes their obedience. He copies the British navy and their steamships and he builds a great navy, one of the best in the Pacific Ocean The only navy who’s better is the United States And he also copies American public education They copy the American system of education They send students abroad to study in America And they promote that feeling of nationalism which really led to imperial power So, they’re beginning to expand their empire They become the strongest military power in Asia They eliminate extraterritoriality Here’s Japan. They’ll conquer Manchuria, Korea, most of China during World War II. They’ll conquer all of these areas: French Indochina, Indonesia, and the Philippines as well And this is the biggest empire they have during World War II in 1942 How do they do this? Well, because they have such a strong army that’s westernized They imperialize Korea first. China and Japan fight a war over Korea, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 Japan wins. And then, they have to deal with Russia They have to fight the Russo Japanese War in 1905 And the way they did it is going to sound very familiar. They had a sneak attack on the Russian fleet of Vladivostok, and in the morning and they destroy the entire Russian navy and the Russians had to sail the fleet all the way from the Baltic Sea, around the entire continents to get over there, and by the time that second fleet arrived, the Japanese had won Teddy Roosevelt negotiates the peace treaty between Russia here and Japan here and the result is more imperialism of Korea by Japan and so now, the only country that is more powerful than Japan on the Pacific Rim is the United States and that leads us nicely into World War II Alright thank you, bye.

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