Japan and the Struggle for Asia, 1894-1945
This chapter discusses political, cultural, economic, and military developments in Japan in first few decades of the twentieth century, and surveys its China war, launched in 1937. It examines the history of nationalist movements in Southeast Asia, which the Japanese hoped to exploit in their war against the Western Europeans and Americans. Japan's successes since the Meiji Restoration made many early twentieth-century Japanese think that they had a responsibility and a right to lead Asia and help it throw off the burden of European and American imperialism. Most politically conscious Chinese realized that after the defeat of Japan a struggle would break out between the Communists and the Guomindang for the future of China, and the Communists were building their strength. The chapter ends with an account of the triumphs and tragedies of the Pacific War and the sudden collapse of the Japanese Empire.