Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Conflict with China (2) Japan

Japan is another example of a “great fear” that got out of hand. In the First World War, Japan was allied with Britain and the United States. In the treaty imposed at the end of the war, the other allies were able to keep their colonies, but Japan was left with no reward for their efforts. Naturally, the Japanese were aggrieved and began to look for their own colonies. The other rich nations had colonies, so why shouldn’t they. (If the other nations had given up their colonies, the Japanese would not have had a grievance).

The outcome was an invasion of Manchuria, which had previously been controlled by China. Franklin Roosevelt had a strong interest in China, so he because increasingly hostile to Japanese colonial expansion, although it was no different from what the USA had done in the Philippines and other places.

Roosevelt imposed an oil embargo on Japan to enforce his will. The Japanese saw no alternative but to invade other nations further south in attempt to gain oil supplies. The confrontation eventually led to Pearl Harbour and an ugly war. The American history of Japan begins at Pearl Harbour, but the history of bullying and hypocrisy leading up to that event is ignored.

In a very short time, the Japanese went from being key allies to become the most evil people on earth. Soon everyone hated the Japanese intently. They were hated so much that it was easy to justify dropping two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing thousands of civilians and many children.

Now the Japanese are allied to the West again. We have decided they are nice people, so we drive the cars they have made and watch television on screens they have produced.

This switch from ally to hated enemy and back again was unnecessary. It was the result of xenophobic fear stirred up in both nations for political reasons. With a bit of common sense, and much less stirring up of hatred, millions of deaths and a huge amount of suffering could have been avoided.

If the politicians who talked up this division had realised how much evil the conflict would produce and how many people would suffer and die, perhaps they would have been less belligerent and have sought for more pragmatic solutions.

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