Japanese colonial empire
|Capital||Tokyo City (1895–1943)|
Japanese military yen,
The territorial conquests of the Empire of Japan in the Western Pacific and East Asia regions began in 1895 with its victory over Qing China in the First Sino-Japanese War. Subsequent victories over the Russian Empire (Russo-Japanese War) and German Empire (World War I) expanded Japanese rule to Taiwan, Korea, Micronesia, southern Sakhalin, several concessions in China, and the South Manchuria Railway. In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria, resulting in the establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo the following year; thereafter, Japan adopted a policy of founding and supporting puppet states in conquered regions. These conquered territories became the basis for the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in 1940.
Including the naichi, colonies, occupied territories, and puppet states, the Empire of Japan at its apex was one of the largest empires in history. The total amount of land under Japanese sovereignty reached 8,510,000 km2 (3,300,000 sq mi) in 1942. By 1943, it accounted for more than 20% of the world's population at the time with 463 million people in its occupied regions and territories.
After Japan was defeated by the Allies in 1945, the colonial control over the far-flung territories from Tokyo ended. The extent of Japanese governance was restricted to the naichi (excepting Karafuto Prefecture, which was annexed by the Soviet Union); the Nanpō and Ryūkyū Islands were returned to Japan in 1968 and 1972 respectively.
The first overseas territories that Japan acquired were the islands of its surrounding seas. During the early Meiji era, Japan established control over the Nanpō, Ryukyu, and Kuril Islands; it also strengthened control of the naichi. But this effort was less an initial step toward colonial expansion than it was a reassertion of national authority over territories traditionally within the Japanese cultural sphere.
At the start of the twentieth century the rate of population increase in Japan was seen as a potential problem for the Japanese government, and colonial expansion into Korea and Manchuria was seen as a possible solution.
Main article: Taiwan under Japanese rule
Between 1895 and 1945, Taiwan, including the Pescadores, was a colony of the Empire of Japan; following the defeat of Qing China in the First Sino-Japanese War, it ceded Taiwan to Japan under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The short-lived Republic of Formosa resistance movement was quickly suppressed by the Japanese military. The fall of Tainan ended organized resistance to Japanese occupation and inaugurated five decades of Japanese rule.
Since Taiwan was Japan's first overseas colony, the central and colonial governments turned their efforts into making the island a "model colony". These resulted in the modernization of the island's economy, infrastructure, industry, public works, and assimilation of its population.
In 1945, after the defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II, Taiwan was placed under the control of the Republic of China with the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. The experience of Japanese rule, Kuomintang rule, and the February 28 Incident (1947) continues to affect issues such as Retrocession Day, national and ethnic identity, and the Taiwan independence movement.
Main article: Korea under Japanese rule
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, various Western countries competed for influence, trade, and territory in East Asia, and Japan sought to join these modern colonial powers. The newly modernized Meiji government of Japan turned to Korea, then in the sphere of influence of China's Qing dynasty. The Japanese government initially sought to separate Korea from Qing and make Korea a Japanese satellite to further their security and national interests.
In January 1876, Japan employed gunboat diplomacy to pressure Korea, under the Joseon Dynasty, to sign the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, which granted extraterritorial rights to Japanese citizens and opened three Korean ports to Japanese trade. The rights granted to Japan under this unequal treaty, were similar to those granted to western powers in Japan following the visit of Commodore Perry. Japanese involvement in Korea increased during the 1890s, a period of political upheaval.
Korea was occupied and declared a Japanese protectorate following the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905; it was annexed in 1910 through the annexation treaty. Korea was renamed Chōsen and remained a part of the Empire of Japan for 35 years; from August 22, 1910, until August 15, 1945, upon the surrender of Japan in the Pacific War. The 1905 and 1910 treaties were officially declared "null and void" by both Japan and South Korea in 1965.
Main article: Karafuto Prefecture
During the 19th century, Russia and Japan vied for control of Sakhalin Island. Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japanese settlers were sent to southern Sakhalin to exploit its resources. Japan ceded southern Sakhalin to Russia in 1875 in exchange for the Kuril Islands under the Treaty of Saint Petersburg. After achieving victory in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan was ceded southern Sakhalin under the terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth. Japan established its colonial government in 1907, whereupon South Sakhalin was renamed Karafuto Prefecture.
Japanese and Korean migrants to the colony developed the fishing, forestry and mining industries. Taking advantage of the Russian Civil War, the Imperial Japanese Army occupied northern Sakhalin between 1920 and 1925; afterwards Japan retained favorable coal and oil concessions therein until 1944. In 1943, Karafuto was elevated to naichi status.
The Soviet Union invaded and annexed Karafuto at the end of World War II.
Main article: South Seas Mandate
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Empire of Japan declared war on the German Empire and quickly seized the possessions of the German colonial empire in the Pacific Ocean (the Northern Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Marshall Islands) with virtually no resistance. After the end of the war the Treaty of Versailles formally recognized the Japanese occupation of former German colonies in Micronesia north of the equator. A League of Nations mandate put them under the Japanese administration known as the Nan'yō Agency or South Seas Agency (南洋廳, Nan'yō Chō) and the post of Governor of the South Seas Mandate was created.
The main significance of the South Seas Mandate to Japan was its strategic location, which dominated the sea lanes across the Pacific Ocean and provided convenient provisioning locations for ships. During the 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Navy began construction of airfields, fortifications, ports, and other military projects on the South Seas Mandate islands, viewing them as "unsinkable aircraft carriers" with a critical role to play in the defense of the Japanese home islands against potential invasion by the United States. The islands became important staging grounds for Japanese air and naval offensives during the Pacific War but were lost to American military action between 1943 and 1945. The League of Nations mandate was formally revoked by the United Nations on July 18, 1947, according to Security Council Resolution 21, making the United States responsible for administration of the islands under the terms of a United Nations trusteeship agreement which established the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
Main article: Manchukuo
After emerging victorious against Qing China in the First Sino-Japanese War, Japan was ceded the southern part of the Liaodong Peninsula under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Diplomatic pressure from Russia, Germany, and France forced Japan to quickly relinquish the territory, which allowed Russia to lease it from China in 1898. In 1905, Russia was defeated in the Russo-Japanese War; under the terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth, Russia returned the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan, whereupon it was renamed the Kwantung Leased Territory. A governor and an Imperial Japanese Army garrison were established, the latter becoming the Kwantung Army in 1919.
As a result of Russia's defeat, it also lost influence in Inner Manchuria, which allowed Japan to take its place. In 1906, Japan laid the South Manchurian Railway to Ryojun. Japan temporarily occupied Outer Manchuria in 1918, but returned it to in Soviet Union in 1922. Inner Manchuria came under the control of the Chinese warlord Zhang Zuolin during the warlord period in China. He initially had Japanese backing, but the Kwantung Army found him too independent; he was assassinated in 1928.
The Japanese invasion of Manchuria took place in 1931 following the Mukden Incident, a staged event engineered by Japanese military personnel from the Kwantung Army as a pretext for invasion. The region was subsequently separated from Chinese control and the Japanese-aligned puppet state of Manchukuo was created. The last Emperor of China, Puyi, was installed as head of state in 1932, and two years later he was declared Emperor of Manchukuo. The city of Changchun was renamed Hsinking and became the capital of Manchukuo. An imperial palace was specially built for the emperor. He was, however, nothing more than a figurehead and real authority rested in the hands of the Japanese military officials. The Manchu ministers all served as front-men for their Japanese vice-ministers, who made all decisions. Anti-Japanese Volunteer Armies were organized by the Chinese in Manchuria and the pacification of Manchukuo required a war lasting several years.
During the 1930s the Japanese colonized Manchukuo. With Japanese investment and rich natural resources, the economy of Manchukuo experienced rapid economic growth. Manchukuo's industrial system became one of the most advanced, making it one of the industrial powerhouses in the region. Manchukuo's steel production exceeded Japan's in the late 1930s. The Japanese Army initially sponsored a policy of forced industrialization modeled after the Five Year Plan in the Soviet Union but subsequently private capital was used in a very strongly state-directed economy. There was progress in the area's social systems and many Manchurian cities were modernized. Manchukuo issued banknotes and postal stamps, and several independent banks were founded. The Chinese Eastern Railway was bought from the Soviet Union In 1935. Traditional lands were taken and redistributed to Japanese farmers with local farmers relocated and forced into collective farming units over smaller areas of land.
During this period Manchukuo was used as a base from which to invade China. In the summer of 1939, a border dispute between Manchukuo and the Mongolian People's Republic resulted in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. During this battle, a combined Soviet Army and Mongolian force defeated the Japanese Kwantung Army (Kantōgun) supported by limited Manchukuoan forces. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on 8 August 1945 under the agreement at the Yalta Conference and invaded Manchukuo from outer Manchuria and Outer Mongolia. This was called Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation. The Army of Manchukuo was defeated and the Emperor was captured by Soviet forces. Most of the 1.5 million Japanese who had been left in Manchukuo at the end of World War II were sent back to their homeland in 1946-1948 by U.S. Navy ships in the operation now known as the Japanese repatriation from Huludao.
|Territory||Japanese name||Date||Population est.(1943)||Notes|
|Japan||Naichi (内地)||1868-1945||72,000,000||Present day Japan, South Sakhalin, Kuril, and Ryukyu Islands|
|Karafuto/South Sakhalin||Karafuto Prefecture (樺太廳)||1905-1943||406,000||Ceded by the Russian Empire to Japan|
|Taiwan||Taiwan (臺灣)||1895-1945||6,586,000||Ceded by Qing China to Japan|
|Mainland China||various||1931–1945||200,000,000 (est.)||Manchukuo 50 million (1940), Jehol, Kwantung Leased Territory, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Shandong, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, plus parts of : Guangdong, Guangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Fujian, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong (香港)||December 12, 1941 – August 15, 1945||1,400,000||Hong Kong|
|East Asia (subtotal)||Higashi ajia (東亞細亞) or Tō-a (東亞)||–||306,792,000|
|Vietnam||An'nan (安南)||July 15, 1940 – August 29, 1945||22,122,000||As French Indochina|
|Cambodia||Kambojia (カンボジア)||July 15, 1940 – August 29, 1945||3,100,000||As French Indochina, Japanese occupation of Cambodia|
|Laos||Raosu (ラオス)||July 15, 1940 – August 29, 1945||1,400,000||As French Indochina, Japanese occupation of Laos|
|Thailand||Tai (泰/タイ)||December 8, 1941 – August 15, 1945||16,216,000||Independent state, but allied with Japan|
|Malaysia||Maraya（マラヤ) or Marē（マレー), Kita Boruneo (北ボルネオ)||March 27, 1942 – September 6, 1945 (Malaya), March 29, 1942 – September 9, 1945 (Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan, North Borneo)||4,938,000 plus 39,000 (Brunei)||As Malaya, British Borneo, Brunei|
|The Philippines||Firipin (比律賓/フィリピン) or Hitō (比島)||May 8, 1942 – July 5, 1945||17,419,000||Philippines|
|Dutch East Indies||Higashi indo (東印度）||January 18, 1942 – October 21, 1945||72,146,000||Dutch East Indies|
|Singapore||Shōnan-tō (昭南島)||February 15, 1942 – September 9, 1945||795,000||Singapore|
|Burma (Myanmar)||Biruma (ビルマ)||1942–1945||16,800,000||Burma|
|East Timor||Higashi chimoru (東チモール）||February 19, 1942 – September 2, 1945||450,000||Portuguese Timor|
|:: Southeast Asia (subtotal)||Tō-nan ajia (東南亞細亞)||–||155,452,000|
|New Guinea||Nyūginea (ニューギニア)||December 27, 1941 – September 15, 1945||1,400,000||As Papua and New Guinea|
|Guam||Ōmiya Island (大宮島)||January 6, 1942 – October 24, 1945||from Guam|
|South Seas Mandate||Nan'yō guntō (南洋群島)||1919–1945||129,000||from German Empire|
|Nauru||Nauru (ナウル)||August 26, 1942 – September 13, 1945||3,000||from United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand|
|Wake Island, US||Ōtori Island (大鳥島)||December 27, 1941 – September 4, 1945||nil||USA|
|Kiribati||Kiribasu (キリバス)||December 1941 – January 22, 1944||28,000||from Gilbert Islands|
|:: Pacific Islands (subtotal)||–||–||1,433,000|
|:: Total Population||–||–||463,677,000|
Disclaimer: Not all areas were considered part of the Empire of Japan, but within its sphere of influence, included separately for demographic purposes. Sources: POPULSTAT Asia Oceania
Other islands occupied by Japan during World War II:
Plowman recounts how the lack of skilled personnel led to the establishment of puppet-governments and the promotion of indigenous elites in the administration of territories which came under Japanese control in the 1940s.
According to Atul Kohli, the David K.E. Bruce Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton, "the Japanese made extensive use of state power for their own economic development and then used the same state power to pry open and transform Korea in a relatively short period of time". Japan was "decisive in altering both the nature of the Korean state and the relationship of this state to various social classes." How the Japanese centralized bureaucratic style of government was transferred to Korea; how they developed Korean human capital by a considerable expansion of education; how the Japanese invested heavily in infrastructure. Kohli's conclusion is that "the highly cohesive and disciplining state that the Japanese helped to construct in colonial Korea turned out to be an efficacious economic actor. The state utilized its bureaucratic capacities to undertake numerous economic tasks: collecting more taxes, building infrastructure, and undertaking production directly. More important, this highly purposive state made increasing production one of its priorities and incorporated property-owning classes into production-oriented alliances". This sprawling bureaucratic state continued post-World War II and after the Korean War. Japan's early colonial industrialisation of Korea also made it easier to rebuild after the Korean War, because there was no need to begin industrialisation ab initio. Examining Korea's policies and achievements in the 1960s and 1970s, Kohli states that during this period the country was firmly heading towards "cohesive-capitalist development, mainly by re-creating an efficacious but brutal state that intervened extensively in the economy". South Korean economic development was not market-driven—rather the "state intervened heavily to promote exports, using both market and non-market tools to achieve its goals".
by 1942, this 'Empire' covered about 3,285,000 square miles
In all the ameliorating conditions every one must rejoice; but when these are coupled with the old-time lack of self-control leading to universal early marriages, a problem is rolling up before which Japanese statesmen are appalled. At the present rate of increase, there will, before the middle of this century, be a hundred million people to provide for. It is this prospect that is leading Japanese statesmen to make such frantic efforts to secure opportunity for colonization. Being practically shut off from going to other foreign countries, and Formosa being already largely occupied, Japan would naturally look to Korea and Manchuria; but of these places, Korea would afford only partial relief, both because of its limited area and of its present population. The northern region of Manchuria, however, is still almost as much in a state of nature as were the prairies of the Mississippi valley when the Indians roamed freely over them.
((cite journal)): Cite journal requires
The success of the Japanese had other consequences for Britain's—and others'—former colonies. Lacking sufficient numbers of skilled personnel to administer their newly conquered lands, they sometimes either set up puppet governments or entrusted relatively high administrative responsibilities to the local native élites whom the former colonial powers had hitherto systematically kept in lower grade jobs[...]