Tag Archives: Japan

Japan’s Rearmament Could Be a Force for Good

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s murdered former prime minister, would this week be especially proud of his country. At long last, and after years of protests and strife during Abe’s time in power, Japan has announced a reversal of its uncompromising post-war pacifism. Japan, its current prime minister Fumio Kishida has said, will now begin to rearm.  

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Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated today while electioneering, was his country’s indispensable man. Prime minister of Japan for much of this century, from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020, Abe’s stature on the world stage eclipsed that of other post-war Japanese leaders, just as his time in office surpassed them all.

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The Course of Rearmament before the Second World War

After the First World War wrought its bloody course, the statesmen of Europe and the world began to come to conclusions about its origins. Many of these – well intentioned analyses to a fault – centred on the ideas of ‘power politics’, conceptions of militarism and imperialism, and the notion that arms races cause wars. The Anglo-German naval race of the early twentieth century, as well as its continental equivalents, was held to be the harbinger of future conflict. It was therefore determined that large concentrations of arms should be avoided; that nations should be disarmed – by force if necessary; and that another arms race could not be allowed to occur. All of these aspirations were to fail before the end of the 1930s. Not only did apparent instruments of international peace fail; they also were unable to prevent the coming rearmament, which was built upon a new and ultimately more volatile global order. Continue reading

Was the League of Nations Undermined Mainly by Its Own Constitution?

The League of Nations was certainly undermined by the inherent faults of its constitution; this was the product of a particularly idealistic period of history, in which the notion of a supra-national body was a conception ultimately unable to keep up with the Great Depression and the rapacious revisionist powers of the 1930s. This idealism was also seen in the assumptions made in the League’s creation – seen for example in the likelihood of US membership, as well as the motivations and intentions of Britain and France, both of which did not take kindly to becoming de facto world policemen. It is also clear that matters relating to the Covenant and the nature of League machinery predominate in calculations of the failure of those years. The interpretations and arguments presented stem fundamentally from the way the League was constructed and built; this greatly undermined the League, leading to its eventual failure and the collapse of international order. Continue reading

Did the League of Nations Fail Because of American Isolationism?

While the League of Nations was undermined from the outset by the absence of the United States – it was the supposed ‘keystone’ in the arch, according to Punch – this was not the proximate reason for its failure during the interwar period. Rather, it appears that the League was undermined by the selfish actions of Britain and France, as well as the problems of its own creation; it appears that the idea of a supra-national body on this scale was a unique product of the post-war climate, and was therefore misconceived and ill-suited to the rise of fascism in Italy, militarism in Japan and Nazism in Germany. Continue reading

Was British Foreign Policy Before the First World War Truly Concerned with the Balance of Power in Europe?

At the beginning of the 20th century, the British Empire was one of the largest the world had ever seen. With the Japanese alliance of 1902, Britain, it could be suggested, ended the tradition of ‘Splendid Isolation’ as it was categorised by Lord Salisbury. Debate exists over the intention of the following years. Continue reading