Imperialism is a practice used by countries to extend its sovereignty and power over other developing countries or territories by gaining political and economic influence over them. Japan was one of the first to develop imperialism throughout the 20th century, which was later dissolved during the US occupation after World War II. Japan’s imperialism developed with anti-Western, anti-colonial themes against powers such as the US, UK, France and many others. Japan derived social Darwinism from the west and concluded that it needs an empire if its own. It rejected foreign influence and developed anti-globalism when the US forced Japan to adopt foreign influence. As a result, Japan moved over to isolationism and commits acts that corresponds with the Nazi-Germanic type. Japanese imperialism was harsh. The techniques that Japan used when it was influencing nations like Korea and China were cruel acts of violence.
Japan was interested in taking over Korea, and saw it as an asset that benefit Japan’s industrialization and economy. As a result, Japan took over Korea from 1910 to 1945. Japan led to Korea to split and got divided forming North Korea and South Korea. Later after World War II ended a war between North Korea and South Korea occurred which lasted 3 years and did not resolve. Some may argue that Japan had a good influence on Korea, since it made Korea to be one of the most industrialized countries in Asia by building factories, buildings and roads. However, this is untrue depending on the way Koreans were treated. They were forced to fight for Japan and work in its factories. Also in Korea, Japan prevented the Korean language to be taught in schools. It forced many thousands of Korean women to be abandoned from their families and be sex slaves known as ‘comfort women’ to the Japanese soldiers. Some of these women were young teenagers. It was identified that a 14-year-old named Maria Rosa Henson was captured by the Japanese and forced to have sex with soldiers. Not just that, she was forced to have sex with hundreds of soldiers in a period of 9 months. She testified in court that she would have an intercourse with 12 soldiers at the same time. This is obviously a cruel brutal act done by Japan. As well as forcing 80% of Korea to change their names into Japanese names. Japan wanted to end the Korean culture and make it a culture of its own. Clearly, this shows how brutal Japan was. These acts committed by the Japanese Imperialists still leave a mark till now. Japan caused Korea to split and made North Korea and South Korea in danger of war till now. Although Japan taking over Korea was many years ago, there is still hate and anger between the two countries due to the way Japan annexed Korea.
Greedy for raw materials and economic growth, Japan came up with an event to take over Manchuria, which is located in north China. Japan’s military staged a bombing in a Japanese railway line it owned in Manchuria called the South Manchuria Railway. Japan blamed China for this incident and used it as an excuse to start a war with China. Japan later planned a puppet regime in the state of Manchukuo in China. After a few years Japan made a massacre in Nanjing known as the ‘Nanking Massacre’, which was the capital of China during that time. Japan bombed this area, killed over hundreds of thousands of Chinese residents. Between 20,000 and 80,000 women were raped. Also, the Japanese soldiers looted and burned the residents. As well what happened in Korea, women were collected by military trucks to become comfort women. Women who came out during the day to wash clothes got raped. The Japanese weren’t hesitant and not showing any shame from what they had done to the Chinese people. Soldiers sent pictures to their families containing them smiling while carrying separated heads of the Chinese people. Some pictures also included Japanese soldiers sticking swords to the necks of Chinese prisoners; moreover, other pictures consisted of proud Japanese men standing next to a nude woman. As for the looting, it was quite obvious that it was organized. Japanese soldiers were divided to steal rare antiques and ancient valuable books by breaking-in libraries and private collections. Soldiers even removed religious figures and symbols from the Chinese temples. There are explanations to how these Japanese soldiers acted in Nanjing. During that time, the Japanese were taught a racist education that considered the Japanese people to be superior to all people and that the Chinese are a backward declining civilization. Also, superiors in the Japanese military would promise their soldiers to have women and plunder to stimulate the massacre. As result these mass murders, rapes, and looting happened. Certainly, this was a cruel act done by the Japanese imperialists. This shows how they were involved and organized these vicious actions and that the Japanese soldiers were told what to do.
Japan wasn’t just harsh on its neighbor countries it was cruel to its soldiers too. Superiors would beat up and slap the soldiers. The whole group of 80 to 150 soldiers would get punished and forced to march as a response to an action of just one member. Soldiers were trained not surrender no matter what happens. They were told that if they surrendered, they would get tortured and killed by the allies any way; however, this was untrue. This was known as the ‘Senjinkun’ military code, which was issued to the Japanese soldiers. The wounded Japanese soldiers were sometimes killed by their own medical officers or given grenades to commit suicide during an attack. Japan didn’t just implement this belief in its soldiers but also the civilians. The Japanese military formed a propaganda to its soldiers and civilians stating that if they surrendered and got captured, the Americans would torture, rape and kill them. The Japanese military also distributed grenades to the civilians to commit suicide before being captured. The propaganda worked a lot with the soldiers and the civilians. enormous number of the Japanese people had committed mass suicide attempts. Men killed their wives, and mothers killed their children. They felt as this was the right thing to do. This shows how cruel Japanese Imperialists were to launch a propaganda that would trick its civilians to commit suicides and kill their loved ones. Some soldiers have failed to commit suicide and got captured by allied and Chinese forces. During World War II, about 50,000 Japanese soldiers surrendered and became ‘prisoners of war’. The Japanese government prevented the information to reach to the families of the prisoners. Also blocked any letters sent from Japanese prisoners to their families to not make Japanese soldiers consider surrendering. Japan neither cared for its soldiers nor its civilians by taking these actions.
Japan in the beginning of its imperialism during World War I succeeded to globally rise and become recognized as a great power. It was the first non-western power to industrialize by itself. Japan expanded its empire and established overseas colonies all over East Asia like Korea, Taiwan and areas in China. Japan expanded its economy through trade and shipping; therefore, gaining dominance in Asia. In 1919, Japan was one of the ‘Big Five’ powers in the Versailles Peace Conference. However, it had reached its goals violently and cruelly.