The context in which Japan was drawn into war with China, and what they had at stake going in, are flip sides of the same coin. The contexts and stakes are: democratic government, will of the people, international status, foreign trade, the Emperor, and racial superiority. In the 1920’s and 30’s, Japan was losing the ideal of democracy, the desire to have democracy, and the will of the people. They were drawn into the war with China in order to reunite the citizenry and because of a failed democratic leadership being supplanted by right wing militarists. International status and foreign trade are inextricably linked, and for Japan the world depression limited trade, China limited trade, and America imposed tariffs. Japan’s goal to become a first rate country was hindered by their inability to practice in the international marketplace, and thus they entered war with China to corner a share and to impose themselves as an imperial model like all the other first rate countries they had to emulate. The Emperor and racial superiority were both things that forced Japan into war in order to uphold and protect these ideals, but they were also incredibly fragile institutions which would be easily crushed by a rousing defeat of Japanese forces. This paper will show by examples how these six issues were of paramount importance in the Japanese entrance into war with China as well as their driving need for success out of fear of losing any one of them.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michele_gibney/16/