Japan And Manchuria Before World War II

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In The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific, Akira Iriye discusses the significance of Japan's incursions into China's Manchuria province. He examines the world's political structure at the time as well as its subsequent reaction to this act, not forgetting the domestic politics of Japan and China at the time. He also attempts to explain why the "West" seemed to shift so suddenly from tacit support of Japanese control of Manchuria to outright war with the former, a great far eastern power.

In this work, the author seems to contend that the war that would take place in Asia and the Pacific would be inextricably linked to Europe's jostling of power and its coming conflict. He also cites the apparent inability of Japan to build long-term allies willing to fight with them in that part of the world, as well as China's success in having other nation's aid it in the liberation of Manchuria.

Finally, Akira Iriye contends that the conflict, which would later arise in the "Pacific Theatre" of World War II, would be due to Japan's aggression in Manchuria.

The author supports these assertions by examining many events leading up to the war in Manchuria. He begins with the Washington Conference, an agreement endorsed by most of Europe's former colonial powers as well as China and Japan. Iriye seems to imply that this agreement was blatantly pro-Chinese and that the Japanese were consequently forced to do something to maintain their relative position in East Asia. This goes to support his assertions about the importance of Western involvement in Japan's increasing isolation. Another aspect that the author elaborates on is the Soviet Union's use of the incident in Manchuria to "step on" Japan in terms of the world's political order, portraying it in a...