Publication Date

1978

Introduction/Abstract

PREFATORY NOTE

The Area Studies Programs within the International Programs Office of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst initiated in 1976 a series of Occasional papers to provide an outlet for both informal and formal scholarly works of a generci interest to the University community. In 1978 the first numbers in this series devoted to issues and themes related to Asia were introduced under the sponsorship of the Asian Studies Committee at the University. The initial three papers deal with topics in Japan, China and Laos. In future papers topics will be presented which encompass the major regions of Asia; East Asia (China, Japan, Korea); South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka); and Southeast Asia (Burma;-Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). Comments on the individual papers and the entire series are welcome and encouraged.

Professor Stephen E. Pe1z is Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has worked in Japanese diplomatic and military archives and has published a book titled Race to Pearl Harbor: The Second London Naval Conference and the Onset of World War II (Harvard, 1974) for which he was named cowinner of the Bernath prize of the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations.

In this paper Professor Pe1z reviews the historical 1iterqture on Japanese imperialism in the 1930s and argues that a new consensus has developed: Japan adopted imperialism as a defense against western pressure. He then proceeds to revise this view by exploring the motives of four men who pushed Japan down the road to empire at critica1'moments, and he concludes that Japan's imperial impulse came from within Japan itself. Japanese military leaders believed that it was their duty to use modern weapons and new planning methods to create an empire which would embody and expand traditicna1 oriental values and social arrangements, and he argues that their combined idealism and militarism made them particularly dangerous to world order. Japanese imperialism, then, was a special variant in the history of imperial expansion.

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