Effects of Imperialism in Japan

Japan appeared in 1953 from a long time of isolation and peaceful being. However, few years succeeding this duration, the nation resorted to the territorial expansion. In the late 19th century, the western powers embarked on imperialism in Asia dividing China into territorial segments. Japan, the United States, and Russia followed suit to join the league of imperialists towards the very end of the 19th century. Factors such as security, economy, inspiration as well as provocation by western imperialists and struggle to assume leadership in Asia pushed Japan to imperialism. Ironically, Japan took a dramatic move by being more brutal to Asians and committed more atrocities than the Western imperialists. Notably, Japan was one of the most developed nations before its involvement in World War II, but the economy almost crashed after the war.

According to Moore (2009), imperialism is a type of rule in which more powerful nations create and maintain unequal territorial, cultural as well as economic relationships with other states. Japan suffered from Western imperialism before it rose to resist the Western forces. At first, its rise was an encouragement to other Asian countries since they viewed it as an opportunity to withstand Western imperialists. However, after freeing its nation from western powers, Japan became a worse imperialist over other nations of Asia.

Militaristic Actions of Japan in the Early 20th Century

Goff et al. (2008) noted that between 1900 and 1905, Japan became a full-grown imperialist power. Japan displayed its martial proficiency when 8,000 of its forces joined 9,000 troops from the Western armies to battle alongside to overcome the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. In 1902, Great Britain and Japan signed a pact to have a defense alliance. The document acknowledged Japan as one of the world’s super powers. Between 1904 and 1905, Russia and Japan battled over their political and territorial rows in the southern part of Manchuria and Korea. Anderson (2009) notes that after the defeat of the Russian troops, Japan came out as a giant in military and political powers in the world.  

How Imperialism Influenced Japan Involvement in World War II

Goff et al. (2008) argue that imperialism by western powers greatly influenced Japan’s participation in World War II in two major ways. First, towards the end of the 19th century, the Japanese felt that they should free the rest of countries in Asia from imperialism by western powers. Japan intended to rally the Asian countries to unity and prosperity. Second, Japan strived to defend its nation against the invasion of Western Nations. Western imperialism provoked and insulted Japan on several occasions that arose much anger among the Japanese between the 1850s and the 1930s. For example, Japan signed unequal treaty in 1958 with Russia, France, as well as America and Holland. The treaty restricted sovereignty of Japan thereby giving foreigners a cover against the legal system. More so, the naval treaties signed in Washington Conference (1921-1922) imposed on Japan a battleship ratio in the order 5:5:3 for Britain, the United States, and Japan respectively. These are among other international assaults against Japan that ultimately led to their involvement in World War II.

Japanese and European Imperialism in Asia

Unlike the European imperialism, the Japanese imperialism was non-western and the first of its own kind. The two imperialists had different strategies of ascending to power. The European one was less violent but imposed Christianity on all, the Japanese, on the other hand, invested in brutality to force compliance (Anderson, 2009). However, both imperialists were motivated by racism as well as Social Darwinism. Goff et al. (2008) further observe that Japanese imperialism was conducted in the same manner the Western powers colonized other Asian countries.

How Losing the War Led to Japan’s Future Success

Involvement in the war saw Japan concentrate on production of ammunitions for the war thereby neglecting other sectors of development. Additionally, the bombing of Japan by the United States in 1945 destroyed the production capital which pushed the nation to poverty. In response, the government introduced drastic reforms to restore democracy both in political and economic sectors. The occupation force directed dissolution of Zaibatsu in 1947 and saw shares of the companies auctioned to the public. All the land that belonged to truant landholders was taken at little recompense and resold to farmers at low prices. Several other reforms were carried out in political and education sectors (Goff et al., 2009).


From the above discussion, it is clear that Japan was a major player in shaping the word political and economic status. The rise of the nation from a nation under Western imperialists to being an imperialist itself is remarkable. However, the atrocities it committed as the world power deserved the condemnation it received and its fall.

Order now

Related essays