chapter  7
26 Pages

THE SHIDEHARA PERIOD, 1920-7

The twenties are the age of Shidehara in Japanese diplomacy. As ambassador in Washington and foreign minister at critical periods, he set the tone of his country's foreign policy with its reputation for internationalism, commercialism and pacifism. While we shall have occasion to question some of the descriptions commonly applied to his policies, there is little doubt that they were popularly regarded as the hallmark of Shidehara diplomacy. CI I

Shidehara Kijuro (1872-1951) was born in Osaka and educated in the law faculty of Tokyo Imperial University. He passed the entrance examination for the Foreign Ministry in 1896, the fourth year that it operated. After a wide variety of postings and two long sojourns in the ministry, the first from 1904 to 1911 and the second as vice-minister from 1915 to 1919, he was sent to the key post of ambassador in Washington from 1919 to 1922. His period there coincided with the Washington conference where he served as one of Japan's plenipotentiaries. Returning to Tokyo on account of illness in 1922, he was appointed by Kato Takaaki as foreign minister in his three-party coalition Cabinet formed in June 1924 and served through to 1927. It is this period of his career which will be discussed in this chapter, except for his China policy which will be deferred to the next chapter. Shidehara returned as foreign minister from 1929 to 1931 and thus held office for five out of the seven years from 1924 to 1931.