Whythe U.S.-Japan connection had been completely destroyed during theSecond World War.
Therelations between the United States and Japan are characterized bymoments of strong cooperation and times of war and destruction. Mostsurprisingly, the two countries are either brought together orseparated solely by economic interests. The United States and Japanremained as the major world economic powers for many years,accounting for about 30 % of the global domestic product (Cooper1-2). This implies that economic conditions in either of the twocountries have significant influence on the global economy. Theefforts made by the two countries to dominate foreign markets andacquire raw materials were the major causes of the conflicts thatculminated in the World War II. Although the World War II was aneruption of a long-term grudge between the United States and Japan,it formed the basis of strong economic connections between the twocountries, which exist to date.
Thestructure of this paper is divided into five sections. The firstsection addresses the history of the U.S.-Japan connections.
Thesecond section focuses on the expansion of Japan’s expansion as themajor cause of enmity between the U.S. and Japan, which paved way forthe Second World War.
Thethird section provides a discussion of the key factors that led toPearl Harbor attack and counter attacks made by the United States.This section shows how relations between the two countries werecompletely destroyed by Japan’s quest for power and resources.
Thefourth section focuses on the atomic bombing that forced the Japaneseto surrender without giving any conditions. This marked the end ofenmity between the two countries and opened a new chapter for tradeconnections that exist to date.
Finally,the paper concludes that the World War II was a confirmation of theresentments that existed between Japan and the United States forabout two decades.
Historyof Japan-U.S. connections
Japanremained an isolated country before 1832 when America gained aninterest in open trade with Japan (Sant 215). The government ofAmerica sent several people (including Edmund Roberts and JamesBiddle) to negotiate the possibility of trade agreements betweenJapan and America. However, the conservative leadership of Japan wasreluctant to allow foreigners into its territory. It was not until1848 when James Glynn recommended that any successful plan to open upJapan for international trade should be accomplished by the use offorce. This motivated the government of America to send LieutenantMathew Perry in early 1850s who used threats of war to force theJapanese leadership to sign trade agreements, such as the U.S. JapanTreaty of Commerce and Navigation (Sant 255). This marked thebeginning of trade between the two countries, but the treatiesconsidered the two countries unequal in favor of America. Therelation between the two countries was characterized by the movementof people and goods as well as technology transfer. This provided anopportunity for Japan to transition to an industrial state byabandoning some of its traditional trade and political systems.
Therelationship between the United States and Japan remained stronguntil the onset of the World War I when conflicts of interest betweenthe two countries became evident. The United States and Japan wereagainst Germany at the start of the war, but the Japan’s demands totake control of Chin’s regions rich in natural resources and makeChina a puppet state was opposed by the United State (Kawamura 4).This was the beginning of misunderstanding, prejudice, and mistrustbetween Japan and the United States. Since then, any tradenegotiations are exacerbated by continual misunderstandings,excessive suspicion, and failed communication. Japan had learned theuse of secret treaties, alliances, and force from its previousexperience with the United States and it attempted to apply thispractice in China. The United States advocated for the use open doorpolicy in China, while Japan’s interest was to take the formercolonies of Germany. These differences resulted in conflicts ofinterest that conclude in the World War II.
Japan’sexpansion as the major cause of the World War II
Althoughthe entry of the United States into Japan by the use of militaryforce was perceived to as an attempt to trivialize sovereignty ofJapan, it marked the beginning of industrial development and theoverall economic growth in Japan. Japan had retained traditionalpolitical and economic systems that prevented that reduced itscapacity to compete in the world market. Major economic reformsoccurred during the Meiji restoration (1868-1890), when the newleadership decided to adopt social, economic, and politicalinstitutions of the United States, but selectively (Asia forEducation 1). Promulgation of the constitution during this periodfavored the U.S. concept of capitalism as opposed to the Japaneseidea of communism. This is because the constitution respected therespected the role played by merchants, who were previouslyconsidered as profit hungry people. This created enthusiasm among theJapanese, which resulted in the adoption of Western technologies thatin turn led to explosion of industrial diversification andproductivity.
Japan’smodernization and industrial expansion
Japan’sindustrial expansion was mainly facilitated by technology adoptedfrom the United States and rapid growth of the light industry. Thelight industries (including the textile industry) provided Japan withforeign exchange that was used to pay for raw materials needed inheavy industries (Asia for Education 1). This implies that Japan hadinadequate raw materials to sustain its growing health industries,including the shipbuilding and steel. The rapid growth of both heavyand light industries motivated many Japanese to move from rural tourban centers. Japan’s economy was now based on manufacturing andforeign trade. The economic progress achieved in the late nineteenthcentury gave Japan the guts to address the issue of unequal treatiesit had signed with the United States. The revision of these treatiesin 1894 gave Japan legal parity with the United States and otherWestern powers (Smethurst 2-3). This meant that Japan was now free totake part in the international trade without direct influence of theUnited States.
AlthoughJapan had a passion to build an outstanding industrial economy andreduce its dependence on agriculture, the country lacked thenecessary resources (such as coal, oil, and metals) to sustain themanufacturing sector. Invading the weaker neighbors who hadsufficient deposits of natural resources was perceived to be the mostappropriate solution. Consequently, Japan invaded China and tookcontrol of Formosa, the Pescadores, and Manchuria and later tookcontrol over Korea and Sakhalin Island owned by Russia between 1904and 1905 (Sant 60). The main objective of these military invasionswas to make Japan self-sufficient in terms of natural resources inorder to reduce its dependence on the United States to provide rawmaterials for the growing heavy industry. However, the presence ofJapanese in various regions that it seized resulted in the escalationof anti-Japanese sentiment and increased Japan’s enemies. Althoughthe use of military force to conquer the weak neighbors gave Japanadequate supply of raw materials, it lacked market for its industrialproducts. This is because the United States, which was the majorsupplier of raw materials (such as metals and oil) for the Japaneseindustries, lost the Japanese market and it would retaliate bydenying Japan market for its industrial output.
TheU.S.-Japan relations after the Mukden Incident
TheMukden incident and the subsequent seizure of the region by theJapanese military forces was a confirmation that Japan had completelylost trust in the United State as a trade partner. The Mukden orManchurian incident is an event that was organized by the Japanesemilitary officers in 1931 as an alleged reason for Japan’s invasionof the region of Manchuria (Liang 98). Manchuria was owned andgoverned by the government of China. The Japanese forces accomplishedthe incident by exploding a small quantity of dynamite near therailway line that was owned by Japan. This was followed by Japan’sfull invasion of the region and the establishment of a state that wasunder a direct leadership of Japan. The exposure of this allegationand the subsequent seizure of Manchuria subjected Japan to diplomaticisolation and a weak relationship with the United States.
Thereare three major reasons that motivated Japan to invade and seizeManchuria. First, Japan had not natural resources (such as coal,iron, and oil) to support its heavy industries (Graham 1). To thisend, Japan found the need to acquire land with sufficient deposits ofthese resources using the military techniques it had learned from theUnited States. Secondly, Japan’s population increased at a veryhigh rate to an extent that the locally available land could notprovide sufficient food to feed the exploding population. Manchuriaregion, which had a mountainous terrain suitable for agriculture, wasthe immediate solution to the issue of food shortage in Japan. Third,Japan had learned from the first world war that a country need to beself-sufficient in terms of natural resources to be able to take partin total war (Graham 1). The seizure of Manchuria was an opportunityfor Japan to own natural resources (including oil, hard coal, andiron) to avoid the risk of economic sabotage by the United States intimes of war.
Theopen door policy
BothJapan and the United States had a special interest in China’smarket and natural resources. However, the two countries haddissimilar ideas about the future of the political as well as theeconomic system of China. Japan intended to take full control ofChina natural resources and market while the United States wantedChina to remain free from the control of any country. Japan ignoredthe U.S. interest in keeping China’s market as an open door for allcountries and continued using force to seize more regions (Xiang 3).The United States used soft tactics (such as trade sanctions) toprevent further invasion, but they were all unsuccessful. Instead ofseeing the trade sanctions as measures to deter the use of militaryforce, Japanese perceived that the United States considered them tobe inferior. This further weakened the relations between the twocountries and increased the bitterness that motivated Japan to startattacking the U.S. forces in the Asian barracks. This paved way forJapan’s attack of Pearl Harbor and the climax of the Second WorldWar.
Theway to Pearl Harbor attack and the U.S. retaliation
Althoughthe Pearl Harbor’s attach by the Japanese military forces wasdocumented as a surprise, the onset of war between the two countrieswas not a shock in any way. The war was the culmination of thelong-term tension between Japan and the United States. This tensionwas mainly caused by conflicting positions held by the two countries,where the United States adopted an open door policy in China whileJapan placed an ultimatum to the leadership of China to give Japanprivileged access to certain regions of the country (The NationalEndowment of the Humanities 1). Tension was further exacerbated bythe economic crisis, which disrupted Japan’s industrial sector.Dominating China was perceived as an immediate solution to internaleconomic and demographic challenges. Japan managed to form analliance with Germany shortly before the onset of the Pacific war, astrategy that helped the Japanese military forces to occupy theregion of French Indochina. However, this seizure attracted moretrade sanctions from the United States, which subjected Japan’seconomy to the risk of collapse due to lack of oil supply. At thistime, it was clear that the relations between the two countries hadcollapsed.
Thefailure of the two countries to resolve the long-term conflict usingdiplomatic means culminated in a fateful resolution by Japan toattack the U.S. fleets located in Pearl Harbor. Japan launched thePearl Harbor attack in December 1941 with the objective of disablingthe U.S. forces and make it easy to conquer China as well as otherregions with large quantities of natural resources (The National WWIIMuseum 1-2). This attack took two hours and destroyed approximatelyninety percent of the U.S. Navy force. About 2,400 U.S. Navyofficers, including about 68 civilians were killed and 19 Navy shipswere destroyed (The National WWII Museum 2). The United States hadused soft measures (such as the issue of sanctions) to persuade Japanto stop invading China, but it was now clear that it would no longershun war. The United States began to reconstruct its navy inpreparation for war against Japan, Germany, and Italy. The PearlHarbor attack marked the end of the diplomatic relations between thetwo countries and the start of the Pacific war.
Thewar between the former trading partners, U.S. and Japan
Afterseveral successful attacks, Japan forces seemed unbeatable. The mainobjective of the Japanese leadership was to reduce the strength ofthe U.S. forces in the Pacific and take control of China. The UnitedStates took a period of about one year to prepare its forces forcounterattacks. In 1942, the United State forces conducted the firstvengeful attack against its former trade partner, Japan (ConnectHistory and Geography 3). During the first attack, the U.S. usedabout 16 bombers that targeted the city of Tokyo and other majorJapanese cities. Although this attack did not result in significantdamages, it sent a message that Japan was not a superpower and itcould be attacked at any time. The two countries had broken all thetrade agreements signed since the arrival of Lieutenant Perry in theJapan. Counter attacks against each other were expected at this timemore than any other time in the history of Japan-United Statesrelations.
Japandespised the first counter attack made by the U.S. forces andcontinued with its mission of conquering more regions of the worldusing military forces. The next Japan’s target was Midway, whichwould be seized using warships and airplanes. However, the U.S.priority was to prevent Japan’s further expansion and this couldonly be achieved by destroying its forces. The U.S. forces managed todestroy all the four warships sent from Japan to Midway and about 332warplanes (Connect History and Geography 829). This was the first,planned war that Japan lost to the United State forces since the U.S.opened it for the international trade. The Japanese felt that thatU.S. attack at Midway was a revenge for Japan’s Pearl Harborattack. The American forces were aware of Japan’s weakness, lack ofnatural resources, which had forced it into a series of attacks. Tothis end, cutting down its resource supplies from regions it hadconquered would force it to surrender. This was accomplished bydestroying all the Japanese strong points (including the Guadalcanalairbase) and cutting Japan’s supply lines. The United States aimedat establishing a new order in the region and reducing the presenceJapan forces in China.
Atomicbombing and Japan’s surrender
Afterseveral years of global war, the United States had to rethink theeasiest way to force Japan to surrender and bring the war to an end.The most appropriate strategy was to attack and destroy Japansinterior cities, but this would be a costly and a dangerous attempt.However, the scientific advancement that had resulted in the designof atomic bombs would allow the U.S. forces to cause significantdamages within a short time. The release of two atomic bombs inHiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 forced Japan to surrender and allowthe allied forces to occupy its land (Connect History and Geography841). This was an opportunity for the United States to establish anew order, not only in China, but also Japan. New reforms began withconstitution changes with the objective of democratizing Japan andreduce the capacity of Emperor to force the Japanese into war ofaggression. This marked the beginning of the trade connections thatexist between the two countries to date.
TheWorld War II, which culminated in the atomic bombing, was aconfirmation of about two decades grudge between Japan and the UnitedStates. The connection between Japan and the United States wasestablished by the use of force in the 1850s. The trade connectionbetween the two countries gave Japan an opportunity to selectivelyadopt new technology from the United States and advances itsindustrial sector. However, the attempt made by Japan to attaineconomic self sufficiency by conquering the weaker neighbors,especially China, started destroying its trade connections with theUnited States. This is because the United States was the majorsupplier of the resources (such as oil, iron, and coal) to theJapanese heavy industries. This means that Japan’s attempt toattain self sufficiency would deny the U.S. an important exportdestination. This was followed by an attack by the Japanese forces(including the Pearl Harbor attack), which further destroyed thetrade connection between the two countries and culminated in theSecond World War. The world war forced the Japanese leadership tosurrender unconditionally, which formed the basis of new connectionsbetween Japan and the United States.
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