tv Japan During World War I CSPAN January 17, 2015 5:00pm-5:54pm EST
video competition is tuesday. get your entries completed now. produce a 5 to 7 minute documentary on the three branches and you for your chance to win the grand prize of $5,000. >> "american history tv" is attended the world were one memorial and speaks with frederick dickenson about japan during world war i. they were pulled in because they were an ally and not because of a colonial relationship. this is about 58 minutes. >> we will shift our focus here to east asia. professor frederick dickinson teaches japanese history at the university of pennsylvania. he has ma degrees from kyoto
university in japan where he has lived for quite a while and also from yale university where he has a phd in history, he has been a visiting professor in japan, belgium and at swarthmore and also wrote books including "war and national reinvention: japan in the great war, 1914-1919," and also another one, "world war i and the triumph of a new japan 1919-1930." welcome to frederick dickinson! [applause] >> thank you very much, and thank you to all of you for sticking around for the final bash here. i am honored and delighted to be the last headliner and to use the opportunity to sort of go a
little global. we have steadily made our way up europe and i want to take us a little further if you don't mind. i want to thank the macarthur memorial and the hampton roads naval museum for inviting me here to this wonderful occasion it is a personal honor and a privilege to me, but i also think it is a personal honor and privilege to asia to be included on the program of world war i. i think it you guys thought of it because you have macarthur. i hate to admit it, but this is the first time i have actually been to norfolk. i made my permit -- my pilgrimage a long time ago. for us i do realize he was important in the first world war, but for us we think of him as the asian general and one who
was very much involved in the united states going global and going asia-pacific in the 20th century, so i think it is very apropos. so thanks. i do want to speak of the larger issue of war in asia and why we should even be worried about asia's. today i think we will ultimately get there -- about asia. i today -- today i think we will ultimately get there. this is not just about the siberian intervention. this is the usual map of the world war. it is often depicted as this for obvious reasons, and this makes sense. this was the main area of activity, but this was not the european war, this was a world war. and you can see it much better with this kind of map.
this map is quite astonishing. basically you notice that in this map, every country is involved in the war in some way. it is only a few sort of areas in latin america that remain blank. other than that it is really super global, and you can talk about any one of these, but we will be only focusing on the east asia part. i think for us americans it is not too difficult to think of this as a global war the cousin we are not there in europe and we know that we played an important part. it is a global war. but from my perspective as an asianist it is not just the americans that make it global. there are other folks who make a global. if you go back to this map again, you will notice where the united states is. you will notice where the connections are most tenuous. it is in the latin america, but everywhere else, in europe, and
the middle east, and we just heard the story of the balkans and the middle east, that they are all caps sort of colored up, and i think that is a nice sort of reflection of the fact that it is that part of the world. if you are talking about -- stop it. if you are talking about this as a world war, but ok, it starts here. this is the really most important part. i'm going to sort of give you the pitch as to why we need to think about what is going on here. it is basically parallel to what we know that is going on here. keep in mind it is going along before anything is happening over here. ok to start with, i want to show off nicely, a picture that we have for contingency. i too would like to get away from the structural notion of slip side -- slipsliding the war
. i want to show you basically in essence one of the sort of structural arguments that this war was very dependent on the slow and steady disintegration of the ottoman empire. so we are back to this map again. you can see timeline wise how it is working. -- timeline-wise how it is working. i would just sort of remind you if you did not already know so that you have a very similar situation going on in asia that is basically a balkan crisis of the east, as i notice here -- note here. what is essentially happening is china is the ottoman empire of the east. china is in a similar circumstance. china is the great long lasting dynastic empire, so the political, economic, and notable
parts of asia is getting into deep trouble in a way that the ottoman empire is doing at the same time. so you have difficulties for the ottoman empire beginning in the 1830's, the opium wars as you may know, it is fought in china between the british and the french to obtain more commercial rights in china. this is happening in 1839 and 1841. you do have the sino-japanese war and they effete the chinese in war, and basically at this point by 1895, things are gangbusters. what is going on in the world in the 1890's, again this is perhaps a little early for the balkans, but it is certainly not early for asia. there are those who are very smart, those historians in the united states, like brooks adams who are making the very important comment that it is
eastern asia that is the prize for which all of the energetic nations are grasping. you can see the social darwinist language here. it is very much, it is not simply being used in the middle east, it is not simply being used in the scramble for africa, it is being used quite importantly in increasing great power tension in asia. i guess this is sort of hard to see with this map right here, but essentially what is happening, particularly after the sino-japanese war, is that great power scrambled to carve out spheres of influence. they are carving out special interest to create and put forts in and create mines and in railroads. on the eve of the first world war, all of the great european
powers owned most of the chinese continent, and they are all moving in through various parts of china. again, this is not formal colonial rule, but based on where they are geographically in asia, you have the russians moving into north china and manchuria, you have the germans moving in, very near the british -- whoops, sorry. stop it. i can't see the map from here. ok. manchuria, as you go south east the the french moving in, etc. again, this is not formal colonial rule, but it is substantial. it is a substantial sort of prize that all are waiting to
take advantage of, particularly when the japanese are defeated in 1895. not only then do you have this sort of great power competition as you see in the balkans, but you do have this other sort of structural issue that we often talk about in the lead up to the first world war in europe. then you have tangling alliances. the most important one is the japanese-anglo alliance or it particularly -- alliance. particularly if you remember the british are abiding by the theory or the reality of splendid isolation, they are trying their best to not to tie with powers, it is only after the alliance that was mentioned earlier today that was coming through and the treaty of
entente where that goes through. this is picking up in asia to the extent that the nativist -- that the greatest naval power on earth must high with the other rising power in asia. from a british perspective, this is in response to its competition visit the russia -- visa-a-vis russia. at the same time we have things going on quite dramatically in europe, this really is sort of the general large explanation as why it is that we have this strange phenomenon that it really is -- japan is, well, if you think about japan going and declared war, it is declaring war soon after it is asked by the british, it is asked because they are allies, the night of
the formal sort of invitation, the japanese cabinet meets and says we have to do something about this, and they are deciding then to a line with britain to do their best and to deal with german forces that are in asia. for me it is quite remarkable because if you look at what countries throughout the world and you go back to the old map and see who is plugged into this, for the most part areas in the middle east and areas in africa, areas in south east asia whatever, they plug into the war because of their ties, their former ties to the empire, japan has no former ties to any empire, it was an empire itself, so it does have ties to britain, so it was one of the very few powers that are completely outside of the european orbit the does declare war very early on. we are talking 1914 here.
and sends to the germans and ultimatum to get out of the territory where the germans had been ensconced since the beginning, and that basically leads to war. again, just think about the timing here, it is quite impressive. and, well, this is the beginning of a very substantial japanese action in the war from the get-go. we are talking, by the first of 1914, germans are being chased around micronesia, i am sorry this is a japanese map, but you can see the marshall and the mariana islands, and the equator, which japan takes care of and japan ultimately, will not ultimately but immediately takes over right there, and
taking over that in two months later by november of 1914. we heard earlier today about the pivotal nature of this check to german power this also was a significant check to german power. this is the end of german power in asia. so in that sense, it is sort of a war that is one. -- won. here we have the japanese accepting the germans surrender in my current -- in micronesia. and this is where tsingtao is located. the war in pacific is one by november of 1914, and the japanese do get involved because they are requested to in the war in the mediterranean, in the --
in the meta-training in particular it is the japanese navy. and british imperial troops from australia and new zealand are in the indian ocean, and there are several japanese warships that are sent to the mediterranean after the most sort of serious u-boat kind of threats begin to sort of rise up in the in 1917 so between 1917 and 1918, there are japanese ships that are active in the mediterranean, and you may not know that there are in fact, casualties in this war. casualties, that is japanese casualties, that find themselves today in the island of malta there is a grave especially at the british cemetery there in malta, it is dedicated to 78 or some odd japanese soldiers that lost her life between 1917 and
1918 to read -- lost their lives between 1917 and 1918. there was a serious sort of involvement in the war, and you may not be familiar with the japanese aid in terms of the material to the allies particularly to the russians, the japanese economy begins to boom, so they have a certain lee ray -- certain leeway, and of course you know the story of the siberian intervention, whereby it basically ends up being the largest japanese ground force engagement in the war. this happens very late in the war, but it nonetheless is another symbol of how japan is very much involved in this enterprise between 1914 and 1918 well, 1914 through 1922 here. what we are talking about is is
substantial, at least if you look at where japan is located, a tie into this european war, a tie and because of the alliance because of infrastructure, a tie in because of the competition in the east asia and the pacific at the beginning of the last century, and a very sort of substantial economic growth that japan goes through, very similar to what the united states sees, and it catapults japan from an agrarian country into an industrial power, and this is basically happening touring this time between 1914 and 1918. you can see the number of exports expanding in this. -- in this period, manufactured goods become very important as a proportion of those exports by the early 1920's and what else
do we have here? japanese population is expanding quite rapidly as well, by 1925 the japanese are basically the fifth largest country in the world in terms of population. so this is all happening because of the economic boost of the first world war, so in one hand, they are very much involved in concrete military action with the allies, and on the other hand they are making out like gangbusters because they are helping to supply various things , including shipping of textiles, etc. so a very important part of this sort of local story of the first world war. and this is not all. the degree to which, i am always struck by the more you look, the degree to which both the allied powers and the central powers are interested in getting the japanese engaged from the get-go is quite astonishing. no one after-the-fact wants to
admit that we were groveling for japanese aid, but it is quite interesting to note, simply because of the fact that the british would go out of their way to tie an alliance with the japanese and then say please, will you please help us? august 7 1914, then they say please please, will you please send troops to the western front? this is happening from the get go and they are trying their best to lure the japanese into a separate piece -- peace. they are trying to turn the tables. talk about counterfactual, i did not include it in my remarks but what would happen had the japanese gone into the war on the side of the germans and the austrian hungarian m -- austrian
hungarian empire? think about that. they could send 200,000 troops to the balkans and when the u.s. gets involved they would ask for help as well. this just happens again from 1914 through all the weight through to the end. -- through all the way through to the end. there are any number of interesting images that shows a japanese soldier sitting very comfortably with european maidens, whether they be depicted as goddesses, or innocent people saying please come to the party with us, thank you and it is very serious stuff. i tell you this because it is behind sort of the major geopolitical issue that i want to bring home today which japan
sort of symbolizes during this war. the major issue is the major fact that the japanese during the first world war are becoming for the first time a world power . with the rest of the japanese war they are a regional power and just by virtue of the fact that they are seen as a very significant -- as a fairly significant -- they can make a difference. everyone wants them on their side. in the economy just continues to grow and make that a reality. this is the whole point as to why you invite the japanese to the paris peace conference. the japanese have a tendency to be a little bit on the silent side, and they were fairly silent on the paris peace conference, and that was especially important in terms of shandong province. but they were there and they were part of the big five of the
group at the paris peace conference, and this was the first international conference or japan sits down with the other big boys as number five. it gets better. at the washington conference they sit down with the big boys as number three. this is the naval conference of course during 1920 one and 1920 two, they are of course acknowledged as having the third largest navy in the world, and they are very seriously involved in discussions with the british and the americans on how we deal with this sort of arms race that is getting out of control after the first world war. again, a lot has been said about the washington conference and the subsequent conferences after, the japanese for sake this whole thing, but that comes later. let's preserve the contingency that was set up for us and recognize what was happening in 1919 through 1922.
the japanese created this new piece structure that is put in place during the -- that was put into place after the devastation of the first world war. reflected again in the words of the japanese prime minister in 1920, he says very proudly in paris, "as one of the five great powers, the empire contributed to the recovery of world peace." he is not sane we got what we wanted to paris, we got shandong , we made out very well, but he is saying that we participated in the new international discussion on peace, and this is a first. "with this, the empire's status has gained -- bad omen --
although more authority and her responsibility to the world has become increasingly weighty." thank you. so that should work area did -- work. not just look at what we got but look who we are now. we are something much different than we were in 1914 and very different than 1905. this is the beginning of japan's very significant global presence, obviously. ok. i said i was going to talk about the visible global implications you can guess where i am going from here, but it is not quite what you think. yes, i would agree with those who have already sort of hinted that the major sort of global implications is embodied by this
quotation from sir edward grey if you went online and looked at some of the exercises that is accompanied during world war i -- that are accompanied during world war i, they have on that worksheet, they very much bring up this quotation from august 3 already, i mean i'm sorry, the very beginning of the war, when sir edward grey, the foreign secretary of the british, is saying "that the lamps are going out, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." as it turns out, this was a little bit of an overstatement. it depends on how you look at it. europe was not destroyed by the war, it was sort of, it was very significantly maimed, but if you
look at the long-term, he was very right. it is not simply the idea that the first war is bringing the american centric, but obviously we have a very important shift of power at this event from europe to the united states. the u.s. sort of begins to become the decider, so to speak in political economic social terms, and you can see this to the degree which american economy and american culture comes in like gangbusters in japan in the 1920's, and that is a whole another -- a whole other interesting story. i am talking more about this issue, the issue that yes being the american century it don't forget it is also the rise of japan, but the most important thing is not the rise of japan it is actually the other part here, it is simply -- it is not
simply the decline of germany. it seems to me you really do get a picture of their the world is going globally, geopolitically, after 1919 in asia first, not in europe. because what happened in europe after the first world war? essentially, yes, the losing empires lose and they implode. right, russia, ottoman empire, austria-hungary, all of those guys did not get the good part of the deal. but even if you sort of think in terms of the french and the british, who won, yeah essentially what happened in europe and in africa, there empire basically expanded. the largest extent of the british empire is after the 90's, it was not before.
they talk about some determination and moving beyond the era of empires, but that is not really happening immediately, at least certainly not in the middle east certainly not africa. but i would argue very much that it is happening in asia in a way that is quite shocking. but you will see this -- and you will see this in, well remember this quotation, just remember again, the degree of interest in asia in the latter 19th century the degree to which these great european empires were at least plugging into the chinese economy, they were very sort of excited about the growth potential and being there on the ground with what was happening and what happens? this is another episode that i did not mention, and it often comes up, it was called the 21 demands, as was the diplomatic sort of negotiations with china whereby the japanese negotiate
to get all kinds of privileges throughout china. remember when i showed you the map about the great power sort of competition right out -- right after the japanese war? there were little fiefdoms throughout china, and now the japanese is going for broke and they know that it can go for broke because the europeans are caught up elsewhere. i am not saying that they are taking over shandong, it is not colonial rule, but again, back to the siberian intervention, it is an allied intervention, the allies are -- the japanese are asked to join, but they don't agree on the how would you say terms, is that basically the numbers. for me the interesting thing just goes to show you the degree to which japan has become the decider in asia in an area where
the powers were very interested to be plugged into. japanese troops, 70,000, no one has anywhere near that. you can all colored territories, the orange part here is the japanese formal empire. all the rest of this brown color is where the japanese troops are making their way to this lake here. to everyone's astonishment and amazement. so another nice visual picture of how things are happening. the first world war causes changes in asia that are quite substantial. there is a certain lag in europe in terms of empire. it is not immediate. given this sort of dramatic rise of japanese power during this
time, you probably heard about american visions of japan towards the end of the war. they begin to get very nervous. they begin to call the japanese various names. the worst thing you can call japanese in 1918 is -- that's right, "germany of asia." there are people that are now associating the japanese with the terrible militarism and aggression that they see as the locus and cause of the war in europe. this is a bad thing. it has been incorporated in historiography as the actual account of what has happened. what i would say is no, japan is not the germany of asia, it is just astonishing everyone with its rise of power. no one is able to do anything
about it. just to give you one other thing dealing with china here. it is basically the idea not simply that japan is rising, but that japan will be the determiner of events in asia. you have this articulated in japan at the beginning of the war. governor general of korea, a japanese terrority, said this -- by the end of the war, japan becomes the most economic and political player in china. if you look at the number of how they change in terms of investment percentage vis-a-vis the british, who are the most important other power, you can see how the tables begin to turn. the british are obviously important, but you have a very significant physical japanese presence in china through the 1920's.
this is the beginning of something important. [laughter] here we see a japanese textile mill with chinese workers. for me, looking at these events from the perspective of japan, it is a global vision. it is also an interesting lesson in how we might think about where we carry the legacy. it used to be in the japanese case, as with the german case, you're looking at the first war to talk about what will happen in the second world war. you can type these events in asia as the precursor of japan making a serious effort to take over asia.
i would borrow from sean and say hold on, a lot of things happen between that time. we get there eventually, but there is a whole different story in the 1920's that i want to talk about. for me, the most important legacy of this war is not how the rise of japan leads into the second world war, it is how this teaches us the slow, steady movement of the center of political and economic activity away from europe, away from the u.s., and somewhere very different. if you have been listening to current events, we just had the apec conference in beijing. this vision of everyone dressing up in chinese charts give you an
indication of the rise of japan leads to. it doesn't lead to greater prosperity in 1930, it is the beginning of a substantial change from europe to the asian pacific. thank you very much. [applause] >> could you touch on why japan was mentioned in the zimmerman telegram? >> i suppose it has something to do with german ambition and hope. perhaps tied in some way with its desperate idea that japan
would be a serious decider if it comes out to be true that the japanese are in cahoots with the germans. that could be a decider, a deciding alternate factor. for me, it shows the degree to which -- to bring up the name of japan is to bring up something substantial in 1914. during this time, it is a very important wildcard. >> could you go back to the slide about the japanese and korea? >> ok, was that here? yes.
>> in that quote, it says asia should be under the control of asians. is that a feeling by the japanese, or does the japanese really mean that asia should be under control by the japanese, seeing how this is said by a japanese-korean general? >> it is not a complete fabrication, because the idea is they can point to a serious historical legacy of western empire building in asia. that is what the reference is. the idea is that there should be someone in asia besides western powers. obviously the japanese think they should be the ones. i pull this quote out of nowhere.
he does not represent the mainstream here, but the most important thing is to -- he is a gauge of a certain mood in japan in 1914. it is a mood of opportunity. war breaks out in europe, that means people are going to be distracted. we have been trying for a couple decades to hang with the big boys. this is our opportunity. i wouldn't say that this presage references the greater prosperity sphere, but there are certain echoes. thanks. yes sir. oh, we have one in the back. >> earlier you were talking about the rapid increase of japan during world war i.
i was wondering how the colonization of korea impacted that with resources and population. you had some numbers listed talking about the increased population. what was the impact of that colonization, and were those koreans counted in those numbers? >> korea does become a certain drain, although the japanese are producing rice and the low price of rice is a help during the time of war. in the 1930's, korea is critical because you have industrial power. that is a principal source of industrial growth. i will say japan becomes a industrial power in 1914 not because of korea -- it would have been there regardless of korea -- but because of other fundamentals.
it has railroad industry, the shipping industry, the textile industry. it has new and important markets because of the excitement in europe. this is more critical than anything else. >> on your map with the japanese you mention in 1919, i noticed they had basically occupied a maritime province. in russia, a large chunk of manchuria -- why did they hang onto that after the war? were they forced out or did they give it up voluntarily? >> good question. the invitation is like a gift from the allies, the invitation to join an allied expedition. the rest of the allies are out by june, 1920. the japanese army command cannot give up a good thing.
this is the best thing that happens to them during the war. it gives us a little bit of a territory, but is not actually our territory. there are some interesting outlandish ideas to create an independent province in the maritime provinces under japanese military command. basically what forces them out is japanese public opinion. the public opinion is fueled by world public opinion. how can public opinion be so great? keep in mind that the japanese at this point are, for the first time, a world power. in 1919, how do they think they can maintain this status as world power? the definition has completely changed. they can make it now in 1919 not by the virtue of expanding territory, which was the old definition; they can make it by
virtue of saying we are part of the five-member group that is working on rolling a new peace structure. that is how they originally get the moniker that they are a world power. from the perspective of the civilian leadership and from pundits within japan, siberia doesn't match at all. it is bad pr. you have to do something different. they get hounded as much as they can. there are a few debacles in terms of loss of life along the way. they are forced out eventually by 1922. >> my question is you had mentioned that the british made
a request for the japanese to send troops to the western front -- we know the japanese were trying to impress western allies. why didn't they send two divisions to portugal, to the western front? i was wondering why the japanese couldn't put together an expeditionary force. >> why should they? when i say that, it means "let's participate in this to the degree that we are part of the winning side." you are doing that with the navy from the beginning. it is not absolutely painless, but the japanese lose six ships in all of the asia pacific. losing 70 something sailors in the mediterranean, it would be a much different story if they sent troops. there was no will to send any troops to europe.
you may know because of the scholarship of my colleague that the chinese send bodies, laborers, 150,000 of them to the western front. to help with digging trenches and carrying stuff back and forth. you can go to any cemeteries in belgium and find chinese graves. you won't find any japanese graves there. the chinese are willing to do that because that is all they have to give. the japanese have a navy. they can give substantial help and it is because of that substantial help that the allies are willing to give them everything they want at the paris peace conference. the most important thing is the thing the ability to stay in vladovostok as well.
>> to put a negative spin on this, from the perspective of the u.s., the reason japan is on the table because they are perceived as a threat. they are a world power, but a dangerous one. >> yes, there is a thin line between being strong and too strong. obviously, from the perspective of the americans in the asia pacific, the japanese are from the get-go too strong. if you look at the story arc of u.s.-japan relations, it gives you the famous quotation of teddy roosevelt.
he is delighted that the tsar got a bloody nose. the next phrase, oh, i wonder what this means between us and the enemy in the future. the big deal for the united states is that japan in 1914 becomes a pacific empire. it is already an empire, but it is a pacific empire. what is that all about? as you know, the americans have been battling with the japanese for a while to become the pacific empire. it starts in hawaii, long before we even take over territory in the philippines and create a colony. yes, we are very conscious of the japanese. on the other hand, there is a great opportunity to rewrite history here to show the degree to which asia-pacific is absolutely essential for the
viability of the independent american republic. it goes back to the china trade that the americans need a china trade to be economically viable. anyone who is anyone are investing in china trade. that is very important. the otter trade becomes important along san francisco in washington. that becomes viable because the chinese want otter skins. this is what you can trade for chinese tea. the asia-pacific for the united states is very critical even
long before the 20th century. the macarthurs knew that. that leads to a certain amount of competitive rivalry with the japanese. there is plenty of recognition especially in the 1920's when the united states takes over britain as japan's most important trading partner. it is a very profitable relationship. i wouldn't deny that there is plenty of worry in the united states from the get-go, but that is part of the story. there are plenty that are profiting quite nicely from the rise of japan and american bankers, american car companies, ford going to japan and ultimately investing in manchuria. there are plenty of opportunities that the japanese
are opening up for americans. this is why the americans take so long to react to the bad things japanese do. we were so plugged into the japanese economy, we said what can we do here? let's hope they will behave themselves tomorrow. obviously it never happens that way. that is a nice reflection of the critical interdependence of the u.s. and japan after the first world war. >> one more. >> that is a good segue into something i was thinking about looking at the graph. i am familiar with the fall of singapore, the fall of the philippines and how those prisoners were treated. i am curious about the fate and treatments among the thousands of germans that fell prisoner to the japanese during the first world war.
>> this is a wonderful episode in german-japanese relations that both sides like to recall. [laughter] let's not let the story go into the 1930's. let's talk about the first world war, where german troops are transported to japan. there are makeshift camps. some in temple grounds and elsewhere, treated fairly well. from the japanese perspective, it becomes a wonderful episode of how the japanese learn to love beethoven's ninth symphony which they play every december. you'll hear beethoven, not because of the americans but the germans.
the germans also left wonderful bread baking technology. you can find bread bakeries with an interesting pedigree going back to the german prisoners of war. they were taken fairly good care of during the war. the question is how come they are so good with the germans then and's start being so bad in the 1930's? it is a very different circumstance. they have the leeway, even though it is makeshift. they have the leeway to be nice to allied prisoners of war. it is not entirely due to the