Japan: Rising Sun Notes

for The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

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Notes from

The Rising Sun, The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945
by John Toland

Book Club Edition, Random House, New York, copyright 1970, in two volumes
Page numbers continue in volume 2, so I’ll just note page numbers. Volume 2 begins at page 547

Manchuria in 1928 was ruled by Chinese war lord Marshal Chang Tso-lin. Two Japanese colonels, Kanji Ishihara and Seishiro Itagaki saw the development of Manchuria by Japan as a way to develop “a civilized, prosperous area, alleviating unemployment at home and providing an outlet for the overpopulated homeland.” It could also be a source of raw materials. Japan had occupied southern Manchuria both during the war with China in 1894 during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904. Japan “poured a billion dollars into the bandit-infested, sparsely populated territory, and maintained such law and order along the railroads that hundreds of thousands of Japanese, Chinese and Korean traders and settlers flooded into the area.” Ishihara and Itagaki envisioned an autonomous, democratic Manchuria that welcomed all ethnic groups. [p. 7-9]

The Japanese Kwantung army was stationed in Manchuria to guard the railways. Ishihara and Itagaki had Marshal Chang assassinated in 1928 and in the summer of 1931 planned to take Manchuria from China by force. The Japanese foreign minister and War Minister sent a general to prevent this, but the general already knew of, and approved, the plot. An incident was arranged and the Kwantung army grabbed Mukden (now Shenyang) on September 19, 1981, then most of the rest of Manchuria. A related coup attempt in Japan by military officers in the Cherry Society was, however thwarted on October 17, 1931. [9-11]

The Japanese government decided to accept the Manchuria situation, as they thought the Kwantung army would openly rebel if they did not. The situation “convinced many Japanese that politics and business were so corrupt that a military-led reform had to be supported.” The reform movement split. The Control clique “believed it was not enough to take Manchuria,” and sought to control China. The Kita, or Imperial Way clique, was against further expansion, but wanted to industrialize Manchuria. Extremists began a series of assassinations of business and political leaders including Finance Minister Junnosuke Inoue, the president of Mitsui corporation, Takuma Dan, and Tsuyoshi Inuki, the Prime Minister who had opposed the grabbing of Manchuria. [10-12]

In 1936 the American ambassador to Japan was Joseph C. Grew, who had attended Groton and Harvard with President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). He was a descendant of Commodore Perry and a Japanophile.

Japan notes continued, page 2

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