Japan among the Great Powers: A Survey of Her International Relations

Japan among the Great Powers: A Survey of Her International Relations

Japan among the Great Powers: A Survey of Her International Relations

Japan among the Great Powers: A Survey of Her International Relations

Excerpt

Japan's "Continental Policy" in East Asia has often been misguidedly commented on abroad. That policy is not of recent origin, but was inaugurated in A.D. 200 when Empress Zhingo intervened in the Korean Peninsula in order to preserve peace in her insular empire, the southern part of which was menaced by the Koreans. Eventually she brought that peninsula under Japanese suzerainty. In the middle ages, the Japanese were frequently threatened by invasion from the continent. The Suchen Manchurians raided the northern part of Japan in 658, the Nuchen Manchurians raided Iki Island in 1019, and the Mongols invaded Japan in 1274 and 1281.

During this same medieval period the English were occupied with a dynastic struggle on the European continent, particularly in France. The English kings eventually failed to make good their claims to the titular kingship of France, and England turned her attention to overseas expansion. Today she is the world's foremost maritime nation. An insular state, like Britain or Japan, with limited territory adjoining a dominant continental power, cannot expect to survive without a foothold on the neighboring continent or the control of overseas possessions.

By the beginning of the seventeenth century, after contact had been established with the European maritime states, the Japanese had already had full opportunity to build a great overseas empire in the West Pacific region. "Japanese villages" dotted the seaboard of Annam, Tonking, Cambodia, Siam, Java, and Manila. Steady maritime communication was maintained with the homeland by means of three-masted ocean-going vessels. Firearms, modeled on the European pattern, had been copied from those carried by explorers to the seas and territories in East Asia. Through the blunder of the seclusion laws of 1636-38, however, this promising development was stopped, and the Japanese were isolated for more than two centuries. During this period Western nations centered their commercial and colonial interests upon Africa, the East Indies, the American continents, and East . . .

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