Elliot Fernandez

Imperial system: the Middle East, India, Japan and China

Power structures after World War I change to the European imperial system with possessions in the Near East, India, and Japan's possessions in China.
Elliot Fernandez
Elliot Fernandez
He has a degree in History from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2009) and a Master's in World History from Pompeu Fabra University (2011).
Post on 2022-11-30

The European imperial system changed after the World War I. The occupied populations in the European possessions of the Middle East, India, Japan and China began to question the metropolis and the first independence or changes in the power structure occurred.

Colonial territories of the Middle East

In the occupied territories of the Middle East, the historical component of the conflict was very present. When the decline of the Ottoman Empire began at the end of the 19th century, the English and French colonial powers took advantage of this to enter the area. To all this we must add the fact that since the end of the 19th century started the claims of the Jewish people to return to the historical territory of Israel.

General context of the Middle East:

The disintegration of the Ottoman Empire
Map of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in 1914

The return of the Jewish people to the historical territory of Israel

In 1890 began the Jewish immigration from Europe. In the territory of Palestine it had just over half a million inhabitants. It included a strip that ran from southern Lebanon to the Sinai Peninsula. It included the West Bank and Transjordan. The inhabitants were 86% Muslim Arabs, 9% Christians, 1% Druze Arabs and 3% non-Arab Jews. The reason for the Jewish immigration was mainly their persecution in the Russian Empire.

The Zionist movement invoked the historical right to return to the territory of Israel. Israel was the historical territory, usurped from their fathers. Between 1200 BC and 63 BC, two Jewish states had existed intermittently: the Kingdom of Israel and Judah. His historical right to return there was established in the Bible. Much of the historical discourse was based on the Bible, which cast doubt on this discourse.

The Israelis were a Semite people, from a heterogeneous linguistic-cultural group. Supposedly originating in Egypt. This people oppressed by the Egyptians was freed by Moses. The Jewish people drew up their own history, based on an oral account, which would later become the Bible.

Around 1200 BC this people settled in the south of Israel and there they faced two enemies: the Philistines and the Canaanites. Palestine derives from the word Philistine, which means invaders. Invasions of Indo-European peoples took place in this Semitic world. The Philistines settled in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians invoke Canaan as predating Israel. The historical problem is that this was a transit zone inhabited by many different human groups.

The unified kingdom of Israel lasted only 100 years. In the 8th century BC it was occupied by the Semites. The existence of the Kingdom of Israel disappears in the sixth century. In 164 BC the Kingdom of Israel was restored. In this process of cultural loss of the Jewish people, one proposal was the Hellenization of Israel. Against this Judas Maccabeus restored the kingdom.

In 63 BC the kingdom was conquered by Rome. In the second century AD there was a reactivation of the Jewish vindictive movement, when between the years 132-136 there was a second Jewish revolt (Bar Kokhba revolt) which entailed the expulsion of the Jews by Rome. In retaliation, Rome changed the name of the territory to Palestine. This territory was Romanized and Christianized.

At the end of the VII century, this territory was Islamized. From then on there was a territory in Palestine that was identified as Arab. This Arab territory of Palestine was territory of conflict between Muslims and Christians during the time of the Crusades. It was occupied by the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century until its fall in 1923.

Distribution of the population in the territory of Palestine
Distribution of the population in the territory of Palestine in contemporary times.

Decay Ottoman Empire

At the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire began to decline, when it experienced the pressure of the European empires and, on the other hand, Great Britain and France began their process of colonial expansion over Africa. Napoleon set out to conquer Egypt, but was driven out by the British and the local Mamluk dynasty. Muhammad Ali Pasha, Mameluke, practically became independent of the Sultan of Istanbul, he even tried to replace him as religious authority. The independence of  Muhammad Ali Pasha (considered the founder of modern Egypt) was followed by a process of French colonial expansion (colonization of Algeria) in 1830 and Tunisia in 1850.

In 1869, the Suez Canal was inaugurated, which was initially a French project. The defeat of Napoleon III caused the Suez Canal to go bankrupt. The British took advantage of it to turn it into a perfect communication route with India.

Faced with the Ottoman decline, several reactions occurred:

When the World War I broke out, the British government present in Egypt wanted to open a new war front. The British wanted to take control of a new commodity found in Mesopotamia, the oil of Basra and Kurdistan. The British government had the idea of ​​promoting the uprising of the Arabs against the Ottomans and contacted a notable Arab, Hussein bin Ali, (sheriff of Mecca), head of the Hashemites.

Image of the Arab Revolt
Image of the Arab Revolt

The Hashemites were a group commissioned by Muhammad to protect Mecca. In 1915 Hussein was elected spokesman for all Arabs in the Ottoman Empire. The British government approached him through the diplomat Sir Henry McMahon. McMahon offered Hussein to support the Arab rebellion in exchange for recognizing an independent Arab state. This promise was accompanied by the dispatch of a secret agent, Thomas Edward Lawrence (a sympathizer of the Arab cause, popularly known as "Lawrence of Arabia").

Arab rebellion
Map of the Arab Revolt

Instigated by the British Empire and financial support, Hussein started the Arab rebellion in 1916 from Mecca and headed for Jerusalem arriving in 1917. Great Britain and France agreed in 1916 through the secret Sykes-Picot agreements which did not envisage the creation of any Arab state (as the Arab rebels wanted) but the distribution of the territories as follows:

Lawrence of Arabia was unaware of this secret treaty. In 1917, before the Arabs arrived in Jerusalem, the British army took Jerusalem and began to control together with the army of Faisal I the whole area of ​​the Middle East. Faisal had himself proclaimed Emir of Syria and his brother Abdullah I of Jordan of Transjordan (including Palestine). Here the British intervened, blocking this process and launching a new diplomatic process that was to decide the fate of the territory, for which the Hashemites had to resign.

In 1919 the President of the United States Wilson commissioned an arbitration study to some diplomats, who wrote the King-Crane Report, to determine what should be done with the non-Turkish territories of the Ottoman Empire. The report formulated a proposal: the best was to constitute a unified Arab state and what had to be done was to guarantee the national rights of the minorities, in particular of the Hebrew minority. The proposal was not made public because it did not interest either France or Great Britain. It was not until 1922 that this report became known, but it was no longer useful, because in 1920 the British and French met in San Remo where it was decided to divide the territory into three:

Sypes-Picot Agreement of 1916
Sypes-Picot Agreement of 1916

Great Britain appointed Abdullah I as a king of Transjordan and Faisal I as a king of Greater Syria and then king of Iraq (1921-1933). These protected kingdoms would be the future ruling dynasties. Britain invented another name for the territory east of the Jordan: Transjordan, to give Abdullah I a consolation prize. The San Remo Conference ruled out the possibility of creating another state, Kurdistan, which will be divided between Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.

Palestine conflict

The renewed anti-Semitic wave in the 19th century made a part of the Jewish intellectuals begin to spread a proposal: to establish itself as an independent state. Hebrew began to be recovered, and a flag was invented. The International Zionist movement was founded at the Congress of Vienna in 1897 with the idea of ​​establishing a Jewish national state within 50 years: the 1947 State of Israel. The natural place was Israel. At the beginning of the 20th century, it began to take on the characteristics of an emigration with political objectives.

During the First World War Great Britain considered establishing relations with the Zionist movement. British interest in obtaining credits from Jewish bankers and an offer from a historic Zionist leader, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, to constitute a Zionist legion in favour of the Allies. Britain publicly supported the Zionist cause. Arthur James Balfour sent a telegram reporting the government's support for the Zionists (the Balfour Declaration of 1917).

This created a problem. Great Britain divided Palestine in two: the territory that remained under direct British mandate and another territory under the government of King Abdullah I and British tutelage in Transjordan. This situation caused conflicts in the population, which intensified from 1918.

The owners of the lands were notable Arabs and Turks. Sometimes they were bought in Istanbul. These lands were worked by peasants, a Fellah. The Fellah were left without land, because the Jews settled there. It generated another population displacement from Palestine.

In 1936, the Great Arab Revolt of 1936-1939 took place in the mandate of Palestine. The Palestinians were Arabs, they had no Palestinian national identity. The revolt was directed against British Mandatory authority, supported by Arab parties and also directed against Jewish immigration. They wanted the creation of an independent State.

From the conflict the Palestinians ended up adopting a national identity. An interclass, popular, rebellion movement was created. The conflict lasted until 1937. Faced with the conflict, the British considered that their support for the creation of a State of Israel was not viable. Now they envisioned a single Palestine, cutting off Jewish immigration to Israel and proposing a solution to the conflict with the so-called Peel Commission:

Map showing the Peel Commission's proposed partition of Palestine, 1937
Map showing the Peel Commission's proposed partition of Palestine, 1937

The proposal was not accepted by either the Arabs or the Jews. A division occurred in the Zionist movement between: Jabotinsky (who rejected the State of Israel because it was indefensible without control of the Golan Heights) and Chaim Weizmann (who did accept the state).

The Peel project was the antecedent of the territorial division of 1947, as a UN solution to the Jewish uprising. The Peel project entailed another precedent: dissemination of the Jabotinsky approach: a strong State of Israel with military superiority over its neighbours, an iron wall between Jews and Palestinians.

1947 UN Partition Plan
1947 UN Partition Plan

British India

It was inconceivable to think of the British Empire without India. The history of the colonization of the Indian subcontinent began in the 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese. The Portuguese set up factories and exported cinnamon, spices, cotton and dyes (raw materials) from India. After the Portuguese, the French and the British arrived in the 18th century, thus displacing the Portuguese.

French and British competed for control of access to the Indian world. Finally, the British took control by driving out the French and Portuguese. In the 18th century they set up factories on the coast with no intention of colonizing. But soon a system change took place and the territory was occupied with a new business, opium (India-Burma triangle). In the 18th century they discovered that opium was of great interest to the East India Company and for this reason they colonized the territory of Burma to control the cultivation of opium.

The colonial system contemplated the occupation of the territory. The last territory controlled was Eastern India. The East India Company conquered a part of India, but economically. Mughal India was a decentralized state with an emperor in Delhi. The East India Company maintained recognition of the Mughal emperor, but the actual control of the territory was held by the English Company. Great Britain took the opium it sold to China in exchange for tea and silk.

Procession on the occasion of a Durbar (audience) of the Great Mogul Akbar II.  (1760-1837)
Procession on the occasion of a Durbar (audience) of the Great Mogul Akbar II. (1760-1837), which was probably celebrated after Ramadan. Next to the monarch, who was the Mughal Emperor of India (1806-1837) are his children, high-ranking Indian and British dignitaries and army troops.

Indian manufacturing industries were dismantled by the East India Company. India's industrialization process was put on hold. The expansion of the cultivation of cotton and opium was done to the detriment of the crops intended for own consumption. At the end of the 19th century, when the Indian population began to grow, a dysfunction was created.

The situation in the mid-19th century was complex. The East India Company ceased to be a monopoly and was replaced by a direct intervention of the Crown with the entry of different private companies. The base of the army was the native population that was subdued by the British, the sepoys. In 1857 there was a rebellion of the sepoys because that year they changed the ammunition of the rifles (cartridges were wrapped in a layer of pork fat), which produced a rebellion of the sepoys that spread throughout the centre of India against the British. This meant the end of the Mughal Empire (1857) and the establishment of a direct government with a viceroy (The British Raj, direct rule of the British Crown over the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947). The English began to develop an apparatus of the state and to massively exploit India: construction of the railway.

Map of British India
Map of British India. Source: Edinburgh Geographical Institute; JG Bartholomew and Sons. – Oxford University Press, 1909

The direct government of India favoured the urban growth of the country. The new emerging middle class in cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, faced a problem. Just as in the army where access to high positions was not allowed to the indigenous population, neither could the highest positions be reached in the civil service. Lawyers or doctors could only practice among natives.

This created a great social grievance in the Indian population who saw personal and social promotion within the colonial structures as impossible. This feeling of exclusion led to the birth of a movement: the Indian National Congress of 1885, which drew up a vindictive program to demand an end to the limitations imposed on the local population. In 1900, this movement gave rise to the Congress Party, a movement to reaffirm religious and national identity.

In 1905, the British proposed the division of Bengal into two territories, which led to the protest of the Indian National Congress. This was a pivotal year towards the transition to political nationalism. Claims of self-government, under the leadership of the most extremist faction of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He had an answer in India itself. The Muslims who did not feel represented by the Congress Party formed their own movement, The Muslim League or Awami, founded among others by who would be the father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The British reaction was to try to neutralize nationalist dissent with a reform in 1909 (the Indian Councils Act 1909). Among its main reforms stand out:

In 1906 the Muslim League proposed that elections be held by religious districts. The nationalist agitation was reopened with the World War I because of the Muslims. The Muslim League asked not to engage India in the war but did not succeed. In 1916 the Lucknow Pact was signed for self-government between Muslims and Hindus. He contributed to mobilizing the rural world.

Meanwhile, in 1915 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who had spent his youth working as a lawyer in South Africa, returned to India. Gandhi elaborated a political doctrine of his own, the Satyagraha (force of the soul). He proposed a fight against the colonial occupation as a pacifist movement. Gandhi called for a first Satyagraha in 1917, an event that made him a popular figure. The British government responded with the Amritsar Massacre of 1919.

The British government proposed reforms in 1919 (Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms) that introduced institutions of self-government in India. The main features were:

The resistance movement continued until 1922 when Gandhi was arrested. Then there was a radicalization of nationalism. In 1920, the Non-Cooperation Movement had begun, in which prominent personalities such as Jawaharlal NehruSubhas Chandra Bose and Ghandi himself participated.

Gandhi was already the leading figure in the Congress Party. Despite disagreements with Nehru, he ended up accepting that the Congress Party demanded independence and its constitution as a dominion.

In 1930 Gandhi launched a new campaign, the 'Salt March'. Gandhi proposed the fight against Great Britain, the fight for the economic emancipation of India by denouncing monopolies. The nationalist mobilization does not stop growing.

New British Government Reform: India Act 1935. Dyarchy at the provincial level with full election of provincial governments. Expanded the electoral body from 6 to 30 million voters. A distinction was drawn between an India ruled by administration and that of princes—federalism in disguise.

Nationalism rejected this proposal. Nehru and Gandhi claimed the right to vote for the untouchables (the poor). The Indian National Congress ran in the 1937 elections and won most of the provinces. The majority of the population supported independence from India or the creation of a new state, Pakistan.

The viceregal administration lost political control of India. With the second world war underway, while the Muslim League supported Britain in exchange for the independence of Pakistan, the Indian National Congress refused to participate in the war.

New civil disobedience campaign. In 1942 'Quiet India' (leave India). Chandra Bose separated from Gandhi and Nehru organized with the support of Germany and Japan the creation of an army. Again Gandhi was sent to prison.

Ghandi in one of his protest actions, approx. 1940

The popular success of the movement meant there was no turning back. The Labour government of Clement Attlee began to negotiate the process of Indian independence. One thing remained to be done: Great Britain acceded to the demand of the Muslim League for the separation of Pakistan from India, generalizing a process of ethnic cleansing with the massacre of important minorities.

In 1947 Gandhi accepted the separation and West Pakistan (Bengal became independent in 1970) and East Pakistan were created.

Map of the partition of India after the independence of Pakistan and India, 1947-1948
Map of the partition of India after the independence of Pakistan and India, 1947-1948


In 1915 the world was dominated by Europe. In the 20th century, a political and economic alternative to this European dominance grew: Japan and China, historically opposed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries but which converged in the 20th century.

Historically, China was the dominant power of the Far East with projections towards Japan. In the 19th century there was a rapid decline as a continental power parallel to the economic and political colonization by the European powers and Japan, which from its external opening experienced a rapid development, positioned itself as a competing power.

China's colonizing process

The European colonization of China begins in a late form. At the beginning of the 19th century China was not related to the outside world. But the breaking of the isolation was the result of opium, exported first by the Portuguese and then by the British. At the beginning of the 18th century, Portugal and Great Britain exported 200 boxes per year and each box contained 65 grams of opium. In 1819 there were already 4,000 boxes and in 1830 it would reach 200,000 boxes per year. At the end of the century, 100,000 boxes were exported. The opium market was on the rise. In the last decade of the 19th century, exports fell because they boosted the cultivation of opium in China as well. Opium was the key to European penetration into China.

At the end of the 18th century, the importation of opium was banned and a problem arose: contraband exports and corruption in the imperial administration increased. In 1839 an imperial administrator tried to cut off the process of introducing opium and confiscated a shipment of 20,000 boxes. British merchants who had smuggled opium were expelled from the country. This fact caused the First Opium War (1839-1842) between the British Empire and the Qing Empire (the last ruling dynasty of China).

The war will last 3 years. It was not a war of great fronts. It ended with the Treaty of Nanjing (1842) which obliged China to recognize free trade with the British through ports, including Canton (until 1949), Amoy (until 1930), Foochow (Fuzhou), Ningpo (Ningbo) and Shanghai (until 1949).

The Chinese government handed over a small island, Hong Kong, a key piece for the subsequent process of European penetration into China. In 1899 the process will be repeated. Attempts to resist this penetration caused the first popular uprising that culminated in the Boxer Rebellion, a movement against the commercial, political, religious and technological influence of the West in China. An alliance of foreign powers faced it, achieving victory.

The colonial powers took control of China's maritime front and managed to penetrate the interior of the country. Partial occupation of the territory. Thanks to the control of the ports, they began to control the interior. Development of an internal chieftaincy that sometimes faced the foreign. The successive defeats entailed that the defeated had to pay the costs and a progressive indebtedness to the foreigner.

Economic consequences

China usually has fluvial overflows and to control them it used mechanisms that the Empire took care of. The Empire assumed the cost of maintaining the overflows through dikes. The indebtedness of the Empire towards foreign powers reduced the effectiveness of the intervention of the State, which deteriorated the agriculture of the central part of China. This fact promoted the processes of popular mobilization against the foreigner and the Emperor. Movements that spread throughout China. The shameful defeat of the imperial court and the continuous economic imposition from the outside left the state in bankruptcy and the discredit of a personage, Guangxu Emperor (1875 – 1908). With his death, his son, only 3 years old, was enthroned: Puyi Emperor (the last emperor of China).

Two types of nationalist movements

They were two movements present during the Boxer Revolt but which grew later.

Xinhai Revolution of 1911

The Chinese or Republican Revolution of 1911 culminated in a military coup. It was not a Russian-style revolution, but a military coup promoted by the military leader of northern China Yuan Shikai and which ended with the establishment of a republican political system in Manchuria, which meant the end of 268 years of Qing Dynasty rule and centuries of imperial rule.

Yuan Shikai became the first provisional president of the new Republic, a position he held for a few months. To later proclaim himself emperor.

Sun Yat-sen organized a mass party-movement, the Kuomintang. With the revolution underway, the fragmentation of China was a reality. The country was in the hands of several warlords, opposed to each other. Yuan Shikai wanted to make a pact with the warlords, implement a military dictatorship, and be recognized by all as the main lord. But Yuan Shikai died in 1916 and at that time the division of China became very evident.

While China was disappearing as a state, the Western powers and Japan took advantage of this to gain ground on China. Already in 1895, China had had to transfer sovereignty over the island of Taiwan to Japan and the establishment of a Japanese protectorate over the Korean peninsula, in which China lost all its influence.

The First World War left China exhausted. Japan had joined the world war by supporting the allied powers. After the war, Japan received all German possessions in China and the Pacific.

In 1917 Sun Yat-sen returned to China, settling in Guangzhou, where he was appointed President of a self-proclaimed National Government. He organized the Kuomintang as a Leninist-style party, despite not being communist, which earned him the support of the Comintern, and he brought about the first United Front of the nationalists of the Kuomintang with the newly created Chinese Communist Party.

For 5 years the relations between Republican China and the USSR worked. The USSR was the main power supporting China and the army that Sun Yat-sen formed trained its officers in the USSR. It lasts while Sun Yat-sen is at the head of the Kuomintang. The relationship with the USSR was broken with the death of Sun Yat-sen in 1925.

After his death, Chiang Kai-shek became the leader of the Kuomintang. In 1926, he launched the Northern Expedition to conquer northern China. In 1927, he moved the Government from Guangzhou to Wuhan, and in 1928 he established the capital of the Republic of China in the city of Nanjing, the "capital of the south", fulfilling the wishes of Sun Yat-sen. Since then, Nanjing is home to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, where he is buried.

Nakin decade 1927-1937

Expansion of republican territory through direct control or the alliance of territorial chiefs. Chang-Kai-Chek was the main political leader of China. The alternative to the Kuomintang is growing. Resistance that takes refuge in a mountainous region where a regional organization survives in a rural world. Organization on a different social basis with the peasants led by a schoolmaster: Mao ZedongReplacement of the power of the lords of the land by an accepted agrarian communism.

Chiang Kai-shek, who had consolidated his power in Nanjing, the capital of the Republic of China, was determined to put an end to the communist movement. The Kuomintang launched five campaigns of encirclement and annihilation between 1931 and 1934 on the communists stocked in that border base.

In October 1934, the Kuomintang army advanced with a million soldiers into the Communist-controlled areas of the Jiangxi Soviet. In the leadership of the Communist Party, Mao's line was in the minority, and he was accused of being right-wing. Against the views of Mao and Zhu De, a war of positions, army against army, was launched. The Red Army lost the initiative and was defeated and was forced to flee in a journey through the interior of China that would be known as the Long March.

Map of the Long March
Map of the Long March

Japan invaded Manchuria (1931) and controlled Shanghai in the north of China. The Japanese expel Chang-Kai-Chek causing a new political twist: the Communist Party and the Kuomintang sign a pact against the Japanese. American and Soviet support. The united front will last as long as the war lasts. The alliance with the Kuomintang benefited the Communist Party.

In 1945 the war ended and the alliance that was full of ruptures ended, there was no common project: some defended a westernized Republic and others a communist Republic. After the invasion, the civil war resumed.

After World War II, the United States continued to protect Chiang Kai-shek, already openly at war against Mao Zedong's communist army, renamed the People's Liberation Army (PLA), in his strategy to defeat the communism where it manifested itself. Likewise, the Soviet Union supported Mao, although the military aid they received from that nation was never as high as originally believed and consistently fell well short of Soviet pledges.

On January 21, 1949, Kuomintang forces suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the PLA and began to retreat south. Throughout the year, the most important cities fell in a chain, forcing the KMT to move the capital successively from Nanjing to Wuhan, Guangzhou, Chongqing and finally Chengdu. On December 10, 1949, the PLA surrounded KMT troops in Chengdu, the last bastion of Nationalist forces. Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo fled by plane to Taiwan, where they would manage to maintain the regime of the Republic of China.

The People's Republic of China was established on October 1, 1949. It was the culmination of two decades of struggle led by the Communist Party.


General information about Japan
General information about Japan

Japan had a different response to colonialism than China. In addition, Japan came to dominate China. In the 17th century Japan had decided to close its borders, prohibiting the entry of foreigners and the exit of Japanese from the country. This isolated Japan remained so until the 19th century when Chinese and American incursions eventually reached Japan.

In 1853 the United States government sent a military expedition, a ship, under the command of Mr. Perry, with the aim of forcing the opening of its borders. It was presented in Tokyo Bay. The Japanese government, with fear (it didn't have the technology to fight back) initiates a series of commercial concessions to the West that causes a crisis of power.

The organization of power was peculiar and different from China. The head of state was the emperor (Mikado) who was sacred but since the twelfth century who really ruled was the Shogun (representative of the feudal lords). In the twelfth century the feudal lords imposed themselves on the monarch by forcing him to stay in the Mikado as a symbolic function handing over power to a feudal lord.

In 1853 the Tokugawa clan ruled. It was the feudal lords who bore the brunt of the lack of response to Japan's failure.

There was a reaction in the centre of nationalist Tokyo that supported the restoration of the power of the Mikado against the power of the feudal lords. This group supported the emperor who acceded to the throne in 1867, Mutsuhito. When he acceded to the throne he contacted this group, he relied on them to depose the Shogun and break with the Tokugawa era to enter the Meiji and initiate a political and social transformation. The power of the feudal lords was liquidated.

In 1877, the last rebellion of the samurai took place and was defeated by the national army. Restoration of central political power in a much more homogeneous territory. It will be easier to govern the country. This reformist group not only proposed the liquidation of the power of the feudal lords but also considered responding to this western entrance by competing with them. What Japan had to do was join this new economy. From the agrarian economy it was necessary to pass to the capitalist economy. The aim was to strengthen the collaboration between the state and employers. They copy technique and science from the West.

At the end of the century, Japan ceased to be a backward agrarian country to become a country with an advanced industrial revolution that will make it no longer a colonizable country but a colonizer. Certain families that rule business corporations merge into the Zaibatsu. In the 19th century there were 4 different sectors: financial and industrial. This business concentration allowed the economy to soar quickly because power was controlled in a few hands.

Economic growth posed new problems for Japan. Agricultural production was less and less due to a larger population, which generated a need to supply raw materials. We had to start looking for them outside: textile, coal, iron, food... To maintain growth. Hence, the step to being a colonizing country.

It will be an overpopulated country that began to expel population towards America (Peru, Mexico, California) and the south (Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand). It became so massive that it caused racist rejection. Australia and New Zealand passed laws banning Japanese immigration.

From the end of the century, Japan launched itself to conquer markets and supplies of raw materials. In 1894 Japan did the same as the British and sent a fleet to China. Sino-Japanese war between 1984-1985. In 1895, a Treaty of Shimonoseki was reached whereby China gave the island of Formosa (Taiwan) and Fisherman's Island to Japan, with large agricultural areas and which allowed Japan to send population. It raised a neighbourhood conflict over control of northern China between Russia and Japan. Russia will want to stop Japan and miscalculated their victory. In 1905 Russia was defeated, the first of a European power at the hands of a non-European state. New additions: Sakhalin Island and Russia's recognition of Japan to establish a protectorate over Korea.

In 1905 Korea had iron mines and cotton plantations could be made in Manchuria. Japan establishes a protectorate and in 1910 Korea joins as its own territory.

Japan joined the Entente with the aim of expanding its possessions in China and during the World War I they occupied the German colonies in order to increase their heavy industrial production destined for the countries at war.

Japan has an advanced economy self-sufficient to develop its own war industry. Japan grew again but was thwarted in one respect: rejected Japanese emigration wanted to counter this. Japan asked the SDN to approve a principle rejecting the ban on emigration on rational grounds. This will force you to set your sights on the Pacific.

In 1922, he unilaterally occupied the south of Manchuria. First crisis between Japan and the United States. Wash Conference: forced the Japanese government to limit its territorial expansion and not exceed the military power of Great Britain and the United States.

Internal conflicts:

Industrial development and the process of urbanization will bring social problems: it will give rise to the formation of a socialist party and trade unions that will demand the transfer of large agricultural properties to the peasants. It will be a focus of urban tension that will erupt before the first world war. It generated huge inflation.

Rice riots: increase in the price of substances. Activation of socialist movements that will ask for the participation of the middle class in the government of the country. In 1867 the country had been reformed socially, economically and politically, but a democratic regime was not established. The Japanese copied the most conservative liberal regimes: a copy of the British and German.

The Constitution of 1889

The emperor is placed as the apex of executive power. He had the full right to appoint the government. The rule of the emperor, not of the parliament. The head of the army was the emperor.
The only counterweight was a bicameral parliament with a hereditary senate and a chamber of deputies that had no capacity to legislate with only capacity over budgets. With a very restricted voting right of only 1%.

The system was organized in two parties:

In 1925, universal male suffrage was granted to those over 30, going from 1 to 25%. Mass politics opens: Socialists and Communists to be immediately checked: Peace Preservation Act of 1925: Police state to prevent growth of mass parties. The target was the communist party. The path to a mass-elite regime was drawn, a change that was not accepted by the elites. Birth of a right-wing nationalism that calls for the repeal of universal suffrage and the establishment of a force regime to facilitate Japan's growth as an industrial power.

In 1931 the governor of South Manchuria without the knowledge of the Japanese government initiates an invasion of Manchuria creating a crisis in the government that did not order this invasion. Japan leaves the SDN and forms a puppet state in Manchuria generating a large-scale imperial expansion.

In 1932 there is a military coup that ends the party government and installs an imperial military government fully supported by the Zaibatsu. Makes public the 'Amau' declaration of 1933. Japan proclaims itself:

Protector of relations between China and the West.

As a champion of peace in East Asia, Japan was the hegemonic political power in East Asia that was considered to exclude the Western powers.


Militarization of Japan. The parliament remains, formally the parties except the communist but they no longer control power. Expansive process takes another leap forward in 1937. Japan considers the direct invasion of China. Occupation of Shanghai and rapid control of all depopulated China (coastal strip of central and southern China). New step in the configuration of the regime that abandons political reform.

In 1940 the parliament and the parties were dissolved: New National Structure. The emperor is ratified as the most responsible for the executive power and the divinity of the emperor is recognized.

A new proclamation is made in foreign policy: sphere of prosperity in East Asia. Unique and exclusive hegemony in East Asia and therefore a call to occupy French Indochina (taking advantage of France's surrender in World War II) and occupy Singapore. Direct war with the United States was not initially considered. The ultimate goal was the expulsion of the United States and the banks of the Pacific.