8 Pages


The story of the Japanese Foreign Ministry contains many elements of tension. Among these the tension between Kasumigaseki and Miyakezaka was by the 1930s to prove to be the most important one. But it was not new and had been present throughout the three-quarters of a century of its existence which are covered in this book. The Foreign Ministry was established soon after the Meiji restoration. It rose meteorically like the Japanese nation-state itself. But, since Japan's fortunes seemed to be punctuated by wars and 'incidents' the Foreign Ministry inevitably found itself confronted with the dilemma of co-operating with military agencies. In the course of time, the Ministry, with its liberal, internationalist approach, came under special attack. But it did not fall. Shorn in the 1930s of many of its privileges and divided within itself, it none the less survived these tribulations. And, when the military agencies were destroyed in battle, the Foreign Ministry (but in the disguise of the Liaison Bureau) emerged into the postwar era. We are concerned in this study with the period of its rise and fall, but not its rebirth. 1

2 Introduction

I have tried to write a history of Japanese foreign policy with special emphasis on the role of the Foreign Ministry. I have sought to do this by way of interpretative essays on a selected number of foreign ministers which focus on the main aspects of policy which occupied their attention. This approach is deliberately personal and selective. It is personal because it has always seemed to me that there has been a tendency to neglect 'personality1 in Japanese foreign policy studies. Among non-specialist readers overseas, many Japanese foreign ministers have appeared as 'cardboard figures1. I shall therefore be trying to throw a little light on the men behind the policies. For reasons of space this book has had to be selective. I have selected those foreign ministers whose contribution has been greatest in two respects: to the development of the Ministry and to the formulation of policy. Opinions differ widely on the merits of different ministers as one might expect. Some of those included were more important than others and influenced the diplomatic scene much longer. Some have been included, I acknowledge, because they are interesting rather than important. Nor can I say that I like all those selected: in many cases quite on the contrary. But this is healthy because it is a common mistake for foreigners to dwell on those Japanese with whom they can identify.