In an attempt to answer the question of why the imperial household in pre-World War II modern Japan owned land, this article takes up the case of the real estate owned in Hokkaido (Hokkaido Goryochi 北海道御料地) and the process by which it was removed from the imperial household's holdings in 1894. The author begins by pointing out the disagreement that arose between those who held the viewpoint that the Goryo land holdings should be allocated to the reclamation projects conducted by the Hokkaido prefectural government and those who thought that the land should be preserved as forest in the interest of stimulating private sector supply and demand and public land conservation. The former opinion was held by not only the Hokkaido government, but also the Imperial Household Ministry and Ministries of Internal Affairs and Agriculture and Commerce, while the latter opinion was advocated by Yamauchi Tokusaburo (山内徳三郎), a mining engineer and head of the Sapporo branch of the Household Ministry's Goryo land Bureau.
Behind the central Household Ministry's support for the Hokkaido government's reclamation argument and Minister of Interior Inoue Kaoru (井上馨)'s claim that selling off public forest land would strengthen the base of local autonomy lay the true aim of decreasing the imperial family's assets and rationalizing their management. Needless to say, Yamauchi was unable to stop the elimination of the Goryo land, despite support from Shinagawa Yajiro, influential power broker in the interior affairs and commerce bureaucracy.
This dispute enabled the author to identify two different kinds of concept regarding imperial family real estate ownership. The first was the Goryo land should contribute to the economic base of the imperial family; that the imperial family should always own real estate in order to strengthen its economic base. That is to say, the choice of real estate holdings depended on their profitability. In contrast, the second type of concept was that the imperial family should contribute to such national goals as improving private sector supply and demand and promoting public land conservation. For example, during the late 1880s and early 90s, the imperial forest land in Nagano and Shizuoka, as well as its mineral holdings, were considered necessary for the protection and promotion of private sector production, while the Hokkaido holdings were expected to help stimulate private sector supply and demand and public land conservation. Moreover, while such aims were essentially the duties of national government administration, the actual situation gave rise to the claim that only the imperial family was capable of realizing them.
The author concludes that the conventionally held concept of imperial family landownership as a means to strengthen the family's economic base was only one of several concepts held at the time. Therefore, the task remains to find the historical process and factors leading up to the focus on profitability alone.
During the Mukden Incident, many officers under the command of Zhang Xueliang, finding it difficult to retreat back into China proper south of the Great Wall (Guan'nei 関内), decided for various personal reasons to pledge their allegiance to Japan and participate in the formation of the state of Manchukuo. It is in this sense that the character of the Mukden Incident can once again be confirmed as related more to warlord factionalism than a war of national resistance.
Taking charge of the most important posts in Manchukuo, like ministers of state and military commanders, were personnel who had established close connections with the Japanese military from as far back as the Russo-Japanese War, including members of the special operations details formed during that war and those who had studied abroad in Japan as cadets at the Army's Imperial Military Academy. During the time that Zhang Zuolin was forming his military faction at Fengtian, these former special ops detail members and foreign students thrived with appointments to important posts in the faction and built a certain amount of prestige within its army. However, when Zhang Xueliang took over leadership of the faction, they tended to become dissatisfied with their positions. Then the Mukden Incident occurred, and the Japanese army re-inducted them, at the point of a gun, if necessary.
Meanwhile, former special ops detail members were installed in the bureaucracy governing the eastern portion of Inner Mongolia, fighting and dying in the national independence movement. During the Qing Dynasty period, the government was wary of allowing its subjects of Mongolian descent to study abroad at the Imperial Military Academy, but under the republic the sons of Bavuujav (Бавуужав), who fought in the Russo-Japanese War as a member of Japan's “Manchurian Volunteers” and who was killed in action in 1916 in a battle with the Zhang faction.
At the beginning of the Mukden Incident, the Guangdong Army throught it could rely on such people to rise up in the field as an Inner Mongolian Autonomous Army; however, due to a lack prepartion of staff officers with sufficient allegiance to Japan, this force was able only to conduct a campaign of unconventional warfare as horse-mounted bandits and had little success. That being said, this very existence of such an armed force was identified as participation of the Mongol-Manchu nobility in the independence movement, and enabled the Guangdong Army to plan the coodination of Mongolian and Han Chinese forces, anticipating the outbreak of Mongol-Manchu guerrilla activities to be a crucial issue in its favor.
Furthermore, the highwaymen who had commanded the special ops details during the Russo-Japanese War had accepted the Qing Dynasty's invitation to join the Chinese army, which unfolded into the institution of military advisors of the three eastern provinces (Lioaning, Jilin, Heilongjiang; i.e., Manchuria). This institution developed into the military advisors of Manchukuo in the aftermath of the Mukden Incident, and constituted the de facto “founding” of the Army of Manchukuo. However, the advisors of the three eastern provinces were veterans of the Russo-Japanese War who formed the first generation of “China experts” through their soldarity Chinese comrades, while their second and third generation successors, the military advisors of Manchukuo, took a more objective view of Manchuria and pursued their ideals backed by the threat of armed force.