- Jun 2014
- Lisbon, Portugal
The highlighted quote is only partially true. Yes, by 1934 or so, Japan already decided its main objective was essentially to build a new order in East Asia - to establish Japanese hegemony and make Japan economically self-sufficient. The road to this new order ran through one single country - CHINA. That was the main focus of Japan all along. It just happened that the USA and other Western powers were in the way.Yes, it was the Emperor Showa. He had a number of Prime Ministers under him including General Tojo. The main role of Japan during WW2 was to accelerate the decolonization of Asia from Western Powers. After humiliating the colonial powers by seizing their colonies, the Japanese encouraged independence movements in such places like Burma and the Dutch East Indies. Coupled with the catastrophic losses suffered in Europe, the colonial powers lost their will to conduct a protracted struggle to maintain their possessions. To be sure, France held out until 1954 but folded quickly after Dien Bien Phu. The Americans were wise to grant the Philippines their independence in 1946.
The Japanese conquest over Southeast Asia and the Pacific - including the Japanese attack on the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor - has to be understood under the context of Japan waging a "Holy War" to force China to accept Japanese hegemony.
Of course the anti-colonial "Asia for the Asiatic" slogan was not only conveniently used as an excuse for taking over the resources in Southeast Asia, but was also firmly believed as an ideal by many top Japanese decision-makers - but still, it was a secondary objective. Japan wanted to create a new order in the region, and that meant that they should establish power over the biggest country in the region, which is China.