This article attempts to analyze the background of Foreign Minister Uchida's positive policy toward China. Uchida strongly advocated the recognition of “Manchukuo” and in August 1932 said that “we have to do it at all costs, even if Japan is reduced to ashes”. There are several reasons why Uchida gave such an emotional speech in the parliment. The first and primary one is that Uchida changed his soft policy toward Manchuria under strong pressure of the Kuantung Army. When the Manchurian Incident occurred on September 18, 1931, Uchida was the President of the South Manchuria Railway Company. At first Uchida tried to arrange a cease fire through negotiations and was critical of the use of force. But Uchida suddenly changed his attitude after September 26th when he heard that the Kuangtung Army was complaining that Uchida was not cooperative to them. After that, Uchida beamec the spokesman for the Kuantung Army and went to Tokyo to persuade the Prime Minister and other political leaders to support the policy of the Kuantung Army. Finally he became Foreign Minister with the backing of the Kuantung Army. However, there are other reasons why Uchida easily followed the military line. One is Uchida's idea of “Asia under Japan's leadership”. He advocated this idea as early as 1890 when he entered the Foreign Ministry. This idea was repeated many times after that. Another reason is connected with his social background. Uchida came from Kumamoto, and had no connection with Hanbatsu. Because of his background, in order for Uchida to advance in the diplomatic service, he needed to have supporters behind him from other personal connections. He found Mutsu Munemitsu in the 1890's and Hara Kei in the 1910's and it is no wonder that he turned to the Kuantung Army in the 1930's. His respect for the Chinese Imperial system is a third reason why he supported “Manchukuo”. These and other reasons are discussed by the author in the article.
Hirota Koki's mode of thinking was typical of a certain type of Japanese. He was the brightest boy in his home town province, and he also strove hard to make good in life. He is also known for being a great man of the so-called “East Asian” type, imbued with a Zen-Buddhist cultural training. Hirota, actually born the son of a poor stonemason, experienced a hard life from early childhood. He grew to be a small—one-sided—realist. Climbing the ladder of success peculiar to Japan, he reached the pinnacle of honor and accomplishment. As such he became a man who could be content with the status quo, never initiating any positive action on his own accord. His ideal was something analogous to the Judo “position of self-protection”, “a diplomatic stand which affords discrete consideration of problems, without being affected at all by pushing or pulling from any side”. Such a stand, however, was totaly unsuited for conducting Japanese diplomacy when the country was caught in the deep trough of turbulent change which was the 1930's. His preferred way of handling things was in fact made use of by the military. It was also a cause for disappointment for Chiang K'ai-shek who, in a revolutionary period of China, was determined to achieve several goals from among a variety of possibilities. This essay, then, aims at tracing how the diplomacy of Hirota failed, losing precious chances mostly due to his invariably passive attitude of watchful waiting.
The extended introduction to the essay serves the three-fold purpose of calling attention to the necessity for further study of Arita Hachiro, raising some general interpretive issues pertaining to early Showa diplomatic history which are addressed later in the essay, and introducing pertinent English-language literature. Arita's importance in the diplomacy of the early Showa period is partially reflected in the key positions which he occupied in the Foreign Ministry's decisionmaking structure: Asia Bureau Director during “Tanaka diplomacy” and the renewal of “Shidehara diplomacy”; Vice Foreign Minister during Uchida Yasuya's “scorched earth diplomacy”; Foreign Minister during the Hirota, first Konoe, Hiranuma and Yonai cabinets. That Arita occupied the above posts also provides a unique opportunity to examine the foreign policy decision-making problem at several levels. The major interpretive viewpoints concerning this problem in English-language literature are: the civilian cabinet members were robots of the military (R. J. C. Butow); the highest military and civilian officials were real decision-makers (J. B. Crowley); they were not robots or rubber stamps but their influence was basically limited to revising or rejecting the proposals of middle-echelon subordinates (C. Hosoya). The case o Arita Hachiro is also of special interest with regard to the question of responsibility for the course of Japan's foreign policy during the early Showa period. On the one hand is the late Morishima Goro's claim that Foreign Ministry leaders strove to restrain and guide the military through indirect means. On the other hand is Professor Usui Katsumi's argument that the “Arita faction's” policy line “opened the way to Pearl Harbor” and that its outlook was more similar than not to that of the military. The usuzumi iro (thin ink color/grey) middle ground occupied by Arita's dipolmacy certainly allows for various interpretations of its significance. The main body of the essay, which is part of an overall study of Arita's diplomatic career currently being undertaken by the author, is basically a case study of Arita's thought and behavior in relation to the Anti-Comintern Pact of November 1936. Of particular interest are the reasons for and the factors affecting Arita's attitude towards an agreement with Germany and his role in and influence upon the conclusion of the Pact. The main points made are: (1) Arita's approach to a rapprochement between Germany and Japan stemmed more from a negative attitude towards their common opponent than from a positive attitude towards Germany; that is, his strong conviction that the Soviet Union posed the greatest threat to Japan and the greatest obstacle to close Japan-Manchukuo-China relations was the main reason why he came to favor an agreement with Germany; (2) despite this strong anti-Soviet attitude he took a prudent, middle-of-the-road attitude with respect to dealing with the Soviet problem which was also reflected in his attitude towards an agreement with Germany; (3) in this case the Foreign Minister played a crucial role in the decision-making process since it was his view which determined the Foreign Ministry's basic attitude towards an agreement with Germany; (4) he also seems to have had a significant influence upon the formulation of the Pact; (5) since Arita was successful in obtaining a pact drawn up in “thin ink” he cannot be said to have been pressured by the Army into concluding an agreement which he did not want; on the other hand, he was by no means in complete agreement with the Army; (6) the ways and extent to which the Army determined the framework within which Arita felt compelled to carry out the responsibilities of his office should not be lost sight of.
In 1936 Arita propsed for the first time to form an economic bloc for Japanese expansion by revising the Open Door Policy. This bloc was to counterbalance the influence of the U. S. and Britain. However, to set up an economic bloc for Japanese expansion without causing friction between Japan and the U. S. and Britain was a difficult task. It became obvious that expansion would be impossible in the event of further Anglo-American economic pressure on Japan. Thus the plans for economic expansion as advocated by Arita based upon a revision of the Open Door Policy did not bear fruit. In response to the U. S. complaint of 6 October 1938 Arita clarified his views on the Open Door Policy on 18 November 1938. Arita was opposed to the application of the Nine-Power Treaty. At the Imperial conference of 30 November 1938 a decision was made to recognize economic activites of the U. S. and Britain so long as they did not conflict with Japanese interests. The U. S. notified Japan of their abrogation of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation on 26 July 1939. Although Arita realized the need to make clear the limitations on economic activities to allay the misgivings of the U. S. and Britain, he failed to act. The objectives of the Anglo-Japanese negotiations in Tokyo in the summer of 1939 were to clarify these limitationsand discuss the Tientsin incident. In spite of Japanese endeavors Britain refused to alter its China policy. In Europe apprehension about Nazi influence was becoming acute, and Britain, desiring to avoid friction with Japan in the Far East and realizing that an actual war was going on in China, tentatively agreed with Arita's proposals of 22 July 1939. But Britain, which was backing up Chiang K'ai-shek, could not accede to Japanese demands on currency problems. The negotiations broke down due to Britain's insistence that they should be based on the Nine Power Treaty.
Matsuoka Yosuke reluctantly accepted the position of the chief delegate to the League of Nations. There was a strong pressure exerted in favor of Japan's withdrawal from the League of Nations by the middle and lower echelon military officers, by politicians like Mori Tsutomu(commonly called “Kaku”) and within the Foreign Ministry by men like Shiratori Toshio. On the other hand, businessmen whose interests were tied closely with international cooperation, and some officials in the Foreign Office as well as those in the court circle were against withdrawal. Matsuoka was not willing to become a pawn in the power struggle between these two groups. Personally, Matsuoka was against withdrawal. He accepted the League assignment only after receiving assurance from the genro, Prince Saionji, that the latter would restrain the military and aid Matsuoka's effort in keeping Japan in the League. As delegate, Matsuoka's approach was one of “letting time heal the wounds, and permitting the League to maintain its honor.” He thought that Japan should not object to the League's discussion of the Lytton report. What was needed was to obtain the support of great powers, and if the combined weight of all major powers could be used to stifle opposition by smaller powers, Japan would be able to remain in the League without compromising her position in Manchuria. With the above in mind, Matsuoka solicited the aid of Great Britain, and favored participation by the U. S. in the League proceedings. This was a stand contrary to the position held by Foreign Minister Uchida Yasuya. By Christmas day, Matsuoka was confident that his diplomacy had won. However, Foreign Minister Uchida objected to the U. S. participation and insisted on amending a phrase in the League resolution which had no important bearing on the issue. Matsuoka's carefully worked out plan was rendered inoperative by the middle of February. Uchida suggested that the delegation might walk out if its demands were not met. Matsuoka countered by suggesting that Japan should withdraw to preserve Japan's “honor.” Matsuoka returned to Japan as a national “hero.” However, the net effect of Geneva was to slow Matsuoka's progress toward the position which he sought-that of foreign minister. The simple common people idolized him. But the intellectuals felt that Matsuoka betrayed their cause and withheld their support afterward. As his isolation from his peers and his former mentors grew, Matsuoka found solace in the empty acclaim of the masses, who a year of two later would also forget him. The experiences of Geneva and the return home shed some light on our understanding of Matsuoka's diplomacy in later years. His often contradictory statements about Japan's position and his desire to blitzkreig diplomatic accomplishments all could be attributed to his instinctive inclination to appease the masses. He knew that his peers and the intellectuals would not receive him back with open arms after Geneva. For Japan as a whole, withdrawal from the League inevitably brought a deep sense of national isolation. The loss of sympathy from her former ally, Great Britain, was a serious blow. The withdrawal removed from Japanese diplomacy the moderating influence exercised by Great Britain. This in turn made the establishment of closer relations with the U. S. more difficult. There was no victor in the Geneva experience. To Matsuoka, the failures of the later years could be traced back to the day he led the delegation out of the League chamber.
The label “Silent Partners of the Peace” is commonly applied to the Japanese delegation at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. This epithet belies the intense interest of the Japanese government and public in the issues of the post-World War I settlement and masks the extent of Japanese efforts to make major documents of thepeace amenable to her national interests. The historical record reveals that Japan was very uneasy about the kind of global power structure that was taking shape in the wake of Germany's demise. Foreign policy spokesmen feared that Woodrow Wilson's peace program would thwart Japanese intentions to become the predominant power in the Far East. At Paris the emerging international order was taking on concrete embodiment in the Covenant of the League of Nations. At the conference table and behind the scenes Japan made concerted efforts to bring the Covenant and its sister document, the International Labor Convention, into line with her diplomatic goals. Heretofore unpublished amendment drafts found in the papers of Japan's leading spokesman at Paris reveal in a tangible way Japan's fundamental dissatisfaction with the Versailles system and suggest some Japanese alternatives to the Wilsonian vision. Japanese efforts to modify these instruments of international organization were directed at some ten articles encompassing the issues of mandates, disarmament, arbitration, collective security, racial and national equality, and labor standards. Japanese diplomats achieved considerable success in diluting provisions on disarmament and labor. While many of the delegation's actions reflected the nation's search for status equal with the major powers, opposition to the strict standards of the International Labor Convention revealed that Japanese leaders did not regard the prize of equality as worth the price of accelerated domestic social change. On the whole, Japan's modification efforts showed a desire to make the Covenant and the Convention more flexible and hence less enforceable. While the extent of her involvement in the peace conference reflected an internationalist trend, Japan at the same time was intent upon protecting the unique economic, political, and strategic regional advantages accorded by her geographical position.
At the Washington Conference Japan was obliged to give up its militarily- and politically-tinged rights and interests in Shantung. It can be said, however, that Japan ensured to the utmost the foundation for the advance of her private capital into the area. This becomes clear if we look at the creation and development of the industrial area in and around Tsingtao centering around the Japanese spinning industry. Moreover, the Japanese business world and public opinion positively supported the development of a China policy mainly aimed at economic advancement. In other words, the author is afraid that if we disregard the point that seizing the opportunity presented by the Washington Conference invitation Japan independently intended to change its China policy, and only emphasize the point that Japan yielded under American and British pressure, we will miss the true nature of the situation. The purpose of this article is to attempt a tentative reexamination with regard to this point.