Alliances and enmities

Relations with Great Britain and Europe

Authored by: Antony Best

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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Until 1945 Japan’s relations with Europe were arguably as important as its connection with the United States. Initially Europe was perceived as both a threat and a model for modernization. As Japan strengthened itself and became more concerned about regional rather than national security, the danger from the West mutated into one of having to navigate an international order shaped by intra-European rivalries. The degree to which this competition directly impinged on Japan was lessened after its 1905 victory over Russia. From this point on, Japan sought to take advantage of Europe’s disunity for its own purposes. It engaged in such a policy during the Great War and returned to the same calculation in the mid-1930s. It was only the eclipse of European power in the wake of WWII that dramatically changed the nature of this interaction, reducing it to a focus on trade and governance of the world economy.

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