Friday, April 8, 2011

Japan after Great Kantō earthquake(関東大震災) 1923

September 1, 1923 8.3 ML 1923 Great Kantō earthquake(関東大震災, Kantō Daishinsai Izu Ōshima). An earthquake which struck the Kantō plain on the Japanese main island of Honshū at 11:58 on the morning of September 1, 1923.

It may not be appropriate time to write about sad political/military history of Japan; but Japan cannot escaped from its history, just like British (refer to the statement of British Prime Minister on his comments on British responsible for today's world problem ). History remind us to learn from the mistakes and look forward for better future, avoiding the same mistakes, or helping others to avoid the same mistake, which will made the world much better......

Varied accounts hold that the duration of the earthquake was between 4 and 10 minutes. The quake had an epicenter deep beneath Izu Ōshima Island in Sagami Bay. It devastated Tokyo, the port city of Yokohama, surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka, and caused widespread damage throughout the Kantō region.1] The power and intensity of the earthquake is easy to underestimate, but the 1923 earthquake managed to move the 93-ton Great Buddha statue at Kamakura. The statue slid forward almost two feet. Casualty estimates range from about 100,000 to 142,000 deaths, the latter figure including approximately 40,000 who went missing and were presumed dead.

The Korean Massacre

In what came to be known as the Korean Massacre, 6,000 Koreans living in Japan and several hundred Chinese and Japanese mistaken for Koreans, were indiscriminately murdered by the Japanese. The massacres were due at least in part to false rumors that the Koreans were planning an uprising. False rumors that the Koreans were: setting fires, poisoning wells, raping and looting, and mobilizing an army first emerged in the Yokohama and Kawasaki areas. When and why did such rumors begin to circulate? It is said that the rumors started mid-afternoon of September 1, spreading across the nation by September 4, reaching even the northernmost island of Hokkaido. The people's panic manifested itself through gradual belief in these false rumors. Psychiatrists have suggested that the minority Koreans became the target for feelings of anger the Japanese felt against the injustice of fate and being victims of the earthquake and fires. Moreover, prejudice and hostility the Japanese populace had toward Koreans, especially since Japan's colonization of Korea in 1910, could only explain such extreme measures taken during the massacre though the Japanese government did not want to admit it. In order to guard against "possible attack," local vigilante groups, jikeidan, with the support of the government, police, and military stationed themselves in neighborhoods and refugee camps, killing "lawless Koreans" on the spot with Japanese swords and bamboo poles. The frenzy subsided September 4, when the police distributed 30,000 leaflets that told vigilante groups that due to "vigorous vigilance" there was no longer any need to "oppress them (the Koreans) unlawfully or to inflict any violence upon them." Only two days earlier, however, the same police headed by, Goto Fumio, Chief of the Bureau of Police affairs, sent a note to every Prefectural Governor to "take firm measures in dealing with the activities of Koreans." Thus the police indirectly allowed vigilante groups to kill the Koreans giving jikeidan groups the justification that they were protecting the rest of the community.

The Japanese government felt that it needed to take additional actions to somehow minimize the damage the Korean Massacre would have on Japan's image. The reality was this: extreme measures taken by the Japanese population, most likely due to anti-Korean sentiments, resulted in the murder of thousands of Koreans. The state hoped to limit domestic and international criticism, and needed to prevent the harboring of anti-Japanese sentiment in its own colonized country Korea as a result of the Korean Massacre. These concerns were addressed in a meeting held at the Police Department of the Emergency Earthquake Relief Bureau on September 5. Representatives of the Army, Navy, Home Ministry, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, and the Martial Law Command, discussed possible solutions. For instance, the Japanese officials in both Japan and Korea prohibited Korean refugees from returning to Korea to prevent them from spreading rumors there about the massacre. Even newspapers were censored and articles related to the massacre of Koreans were prohibited. Underlying messages within the Taisho shinsai giseki reflect the Japanese government's solutions to these concerns by "re-writing history" in a subtle manner through its distribution of narratives reflecting the government's own version of history.


All of those charged with murder were civilians, despite the fact that some military and police units are now known to have taken part in the crimes, prompting accusations of a cover-up. On top of this violence, socialists like Hirasawa Keishichi, anarchists like Sakae Osugi and Noe Ito, and the Chinese communal leader, Ou Kiten, were abducted and killed by members of the police, who took advantage of the turmoil to liquidate perceived enemies of the state amidst claims that radicals intended to use the crisis as an opportunity to overthrow the Japanese government.

The importance of obtaining and providing accurate information following natural disasters has been emphasized in Japan ever since. Earthquake preparation literature in modern Japan almost always directs citizens to carry a portable radio and use it to listen to reliable information, and not to be misled by rumors in the event of a large earthquake.
(source: Wikipedia)

Tokyo in 1926~27(3 years after 1923 Great Kanto earthquake)

The Great Depression 1929(6 years after Great Kanto Earthquake)

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how far the world's economy can decline. The depression originated in the U.S., starting with the fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929 and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). From there, it quickly spread to almost every country in the world.

Japan, as a new industrial country still heavily dependent on export earnings for financing its imports of essential fuel and raw materials, was hit hard too. The Japanese silk industry, an export staple, was already suffering from the advent of artificial silk-like fibers produced by Western chemical giants. Now luxury purchases collapsed, leading to severe unemployment and, again, a crucial political crisis. Between 1929 and 1931, the value of Japanese exports plummeted by 50 percent. Workers' real income dropped by almost one-third, and there were over
three million unemployed. Depression was compounded by bad harvests in several regions, leading to rural begging and near-starvation.(source: One-Half Century Of Crisis, 1914-1945(1992), by Adas, Michael;

The Great Depression did not strongly affect Japan. The Japanese economy shrank by 8% during 1929–31. However, Japan's Finance Minister Takahashi Korekiyo was the first to implement what have come to be identified as Keynesian economic policies: first, by large fiscal stimulus involving deficit spending; and second, by devaluing the currency. Takahashi used the Bank of Japan to sterilize the deficit spending and minimize resulting inflationary pressures. Econometric studies have identified the fiscal stimulus as especially effective. The devaluation of the currency had an immediate effect. Japanese textiles began to displace British textiles in export markets. The deficit spending, however proved to be most profound. The deficit spending went into the purchase of munitions for the armed forces. By 1933, Japan was already out of the depression.

By 1934, Takahashi realized that the economy was in danger of overheating, and to avoid inflation, moved to reduce the deficit spending that went towards armaments and munitions. This resulted in a strong and swift negative reaction from nationalists, especially those in the Army, culminating in his assassination in the course of the February 26 Incident. This had a chilling effect on all civilian bureaucrats in the Japanese government. From 1934, the military's dominance of the government continued to grow. Instead of reducing deficit spending, the government introduced price controls and rationing schemes that reduced, but did not eliminate inflation, which would remain a problem until the end of World War II.

The deficit spending had a transformative effect on Japan. Japan's industrial production doubled during the 1930s. Further, in 1929 the list of the largest firms in Japan was dominated by light industries, especially textile companies (many of Japan's automakers, like Toyota, have their roots in the textile industry). By 1940 light industry had been displaced by heavy industry as the largest firms inside the Japanese economy.

1931 Invasion of Manchuria(eight years after 1923 Great Kanto earthquake)

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army(関東軍) of the Empire of Japan, beginning on September 19, 1931, immediately followed the Mukden Incident.

The Mukden Incident, also known as the Manchurian Incident, was a staged event that was engineered by Japanese military personnel as a pretext for invading the northern part of China known as Manchuria in 1931. The event is known in Japan as the Manchurian Incident (Kyūjitai: 滿洲事變, Manshujihen:まんしゅうじへん 満州事変) and in China as the September 18 Incident (Chinese: 九•一八事变/九•一八事變 or 瀋陽事變) or the Liutiaohu Incident (Chinese: 柳条湖事变/柳條湖事變).

On 18 September 1931 a small quantity of dynamite was detonated by Lt. Kawamoto Suemori close to a railroad owned by Japan's South Manchuria Railway near Mukden (now Shenyang). Although the explosion was so weak that it failed to destroy the lines and a train passed minutes later, the Imperial Japanese Army, accusing Chinese dissidents of the act, responded with a full invasion that led to the occupation of Manchuria, in which Japan established its puppet state of Manchukuo six months later.

The ruse was soon exposed to the international community, leading Japan to diplomatic isolation and its withdrawal from the League of Nations.

The Japanese occupation of Manchuria lasted until the end of World War II.

1931 September 18, Japanese expansion in East Asia began in 1931 with the invasion of Manchuria.

1937 The Second Sino-Japanese War (July 7, 1937 – September 9, 1945)

1937 July 7–9, Japan launched the full scale invasion of China. The Second Sino-Japanese War (July 7, 1937 – September 9, 1945) was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. To the Chinese, the war is most commonly known as the War of Resistance Against Japan (抗日战争/抗日戰爭), and also known as the Eight Years' War of Resistance(八年抗战/八年抗戰), simply War of Resistance (抗战/抗戰), or Second Sino-Japanese War (第二次中日战争/第二次中日戰爭).In Japan, the name "Japan–China War" (日中戰爭, Nitchū Sensō) is most commonly used because of its perceived objectivity. In Japan today, it is written as 日中戦争 in shinjitai. When the invasion of China proper began in earnest in July 1937 near Beijing, the government of Japan used "The North China Incident" (華北事變, Kahoku Jihen?), and with the outbreak of the Battle of Shanghai the following month, it was changed to "The China Incident" (支那事變, Shina Jihen).

The word "incident" (事變, jihen) was used by Japan, as neither country had made a formal declaration of war. Japan wanted to avoid intervention by other countries, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, which were her primary source of petroleum; the United States was also her biggest supplier of steel. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt would have been legally obliged to impose an embargo on Japan in observance of the US Neutrality Acts had the fighting been formally escalated to "general war". When both sides formally declared war in December 1941, the name was replaced by "Greater East Asia War" (大東亞戰爭, Daitōa Sensō).

Most historians place the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War on July 7, 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, when a crucial access point to Beijing was assaulted by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). Because the Chinese defenders were the poorly equipped infantry divisions of the former Northwest Army(西北軍), the Japanese easily captured Beiping and Tianjin.

From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany (see Sino-German cooperation (1911–1941)), the Soviet Union (1937–1940) and the United States (see American Volunteer Group). After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1941), the war merged into the greater conflict of World War II as a major front of what is broadly known as the Pacific War. The Second Sino-Japanese War was the largest Asian war in the 20th century. It also made up more than 50% of the casualties in the Pacific War if the 1937–1941 period is taken into account.

Although the two countries had fought intermittently since 1931, total war started in earnest in 1937 and ended only with the surrender of Japan in 1945. The war was the result of a decades-long Japanese imperialist policy aiming to dominate China politically and militarily and to secure its vast raw material reserves and other economic resources, particularly food and labour. Before 1937, China and Japan fought in small, localized engagements, so-called "incidents". Yet the two sides, for a variety of reasons, refrained from fighting a total war. In 1931, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria by Japan's Kwantung Army followed the Mukden Incident. The last of these incidents was the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 1937, marking the beginning of total war between the two countries.

1938 Battle of Lake Khasan(July 29, 1938 – August 11, 1938)

1938 July 29 , Battle of Lake Khasan: The armed forces of Japanese Manchukuo attacked the Soviet military at Lake Khasan. The Battle of Lake Khasan (July 29, 1938 – August 11, 1938) and also known as the Changkufeng Incident (張鼓峰事件) in China and Japan, was an attempted military incursion of Manchukuo (Japanese) into the territory claimed by the Soviet Union. This incursion was founded in the beliefs of the Japanese side that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation of the boundary based on the Treaty of Peking between Imperial Russia and the Manchu Empire (and subsequent supplementary agreements on demarcation), and furthermore, that the demarcation markers were tampered with.

For most of the first half of the twentieth century there was considerable tension between Moscow, Tokyo and Peking along their common borders in what is now North East China. The Chinese Eastern Railway or (CER) was a railway in northeastern China (Manchuria). It connected China and the Russian Far East. The southern branch of the CER, known in the West as the South Manchuria Railway, became the locus and partial casus belli for the Russo-Japanese War and subsequent incidents leading to the Second Sino-Japanese War, and a series of Soviet-Japanese Border Wars. Larger incidents included the Sino-Soviet conflict of 1929 and the Mukden Incident between Japan and China in 1931. The battle of Lake Khasan was fought between two powers which had long distrusted each other. August 31 1938, Battle of Lake Khasan ended in a Japanese defeat.

1939 The Battles of Khalkhyn Gol(11 May – 16 September 1939)

The Battles of Khalkhyn Gol(Mongolian: Халхын голын байлдаан; Russian: бой на реке Халхин-Гол) was the decisive engagement of the undeclared Soviet–Japanese Border Wars fought among the Soviet Union, Mongolia and the Empire of Japan in 1939. The conflict was named after the river Khalkhyn Gol, which passes through the battlefield. In Japan, the decisive battle of the conflict is known as the Nomonhan Incident (ノモンハン事件, Nomonhan jiken) after a nearby village on the border between Mongolia and Manchuria. The battles resulted in total defeat for the Japanese Sixth Army.

Casualty estimates vary widely: Some sources say the Japanese suffered 45,000 or more soldiers killed with Soviet casualties of at least 17,000. The Japanese officially reported 8,440 killed and 8,766 wounded, while the Soviets initially claimed 9,284 total casualties. It is likely that figures published at the time were reduced for propaganda purposes. In recent years, with the opening of the Soviet archives, a more accurate assessment of Soviet casualties has emerged from the work of Grigoriy Krivosheev, citing 7,974 killed and 15,251 wounded. Similar research into Japanese casualties has yet to take place.

(source: wikipedia)

1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor

1941 December 7, Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and thrust the United States into World War II. The military action led to USA entered the Pacific War, or World War II.

The historical events after Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, where international humanitarian aids were flowing in, and China was reported as the first to provide the relief aid, despite the internal financial and political problems in their own country.

After the Kanto Earthquake, and later Great Depression in 1929; Japan was greatly affected economically, but was able to recover by 1933, which also encourage the rise of political power of Japanese Militarism. In 1931, Japan manifested her military expansionary plan into action in Manchuria(China), and by 1937 a full scale military action in 2nd Sino-Japanese War started the war of no coming back, the nation was controlled by militarism, politically and economically, even psychologically the militarism brainwashed the whole nation of its success in East Asia ....

Despite the humanitarian aids to relief of Great Kanto Earthquake, when China was still under humiliation and suffering of political powers during the Manchu and early modern China era. The oil live leaves given did not provide meaning to relationship of two neighboring countries. The relationship between China and Japan was damaged in 1931, and further damage in 1937(2nd Sino-Japanese War), which was part of Pacific War, and World War 2; a great humiliation and suffering for China and her people. The scar still remain until today.

Did Great Kanto Earthquake 1923 sparked off the Japanese Militarism in full scale? or is The Great Depression 1929 that helped to facilitate their military expansionary plan?.....

Will the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake facilitate the resurface of the Japanese Militarism, like 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake? Perhap it is not the time to ponder on political issue, when Japan is still suffered from the impact of earthquake and radiation risk.

Just pray that Japan will recover soon, and will not repeat the path of their historical past..... but will play a positive role in global peace....a new history will begin for Japan.....

Recommended articles/websites/books:-
1. Battles of Khalkhin Gol,
2. Soviet–Japanese Border Wars,
3. Japanese invasion of Manchuria,
4. Soviet invasion of Manchuria,
5. The Manchurian crisis and Japanese society, 1931-33(2002); by Sandra Wilson, Routledge
6. Japanese Invasion of Manchuria and the League of Nations' Response, clip describes the problems facing Japan during the Depression. It uses a reconstruction of a speech given by Lt Col Hashimoto Kingoro arguing that the only answer to Japan's problems of surplus population was expansion of territory. Using the excuse of anarchy in the Chinese region of Manchuria, where Japan had economic interests, the Japanese invaded in 1931 and set up the puppet government of Manchukuo. The League took a year to respond, but did order Japan to withdraw, leading to a Japanese walkout).
7. Second Sino-Japanese War,

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