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Greater East Asia Conference

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Greater East Asia Conference

Participants of the Greater East Asia Conference. Left to right : Ba Maw, Zhang Jinghui, Wang Jingwei, Hideki Tōjō, Wan Waithayakon, José P. Laurel, Subhas Chandra Bose.

The Greater East Asia Conference (大東亜会議 Dai Tōa Kaigi) was an international summit held in Tokyo from 5 to 6 November 1943, in which Japan hosted leading politicians of various component members of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The event was also referred to as the Tokyo Conference.

The Conference addressed few issues of any substance, but was intended from the start as a propaganda show piece, to illustrate the Empire of Japan's commitments to the Pan-Asianism ideal and to emphasize its role as the "liberator" of Asia from Western colonialism.[1]

Contents

  • Background 1
  • Participants 2
  • Themes 3
  • Joint Declaration 4
  • Consequences 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Background

Starting in 1931, Japan had always sought to justify its imperialism under the grounds of Pan-Asianism. In 1941, when Japan went to war with the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands, the Japanese portrayed themselves as engaging in a war of liberation on behalf of all the peoples of Asia. In particular, there was a marked racism to Japanese propaganda with the Japanese government issuing cartoons depicting the Americans and British as "white devils" or "white demons", complete with claws, fangs, horns and tails.[2] The Japanese government depicted the war as a race war between the benevolent Asians led of course by Japan, the most powerful Asian country against the utterly evil "Anglo-Saxons" led by the U.S. and the British Empire, who were portrayed as sub-human "white devils".[2] At times, Japanese leaders spoke like they believed their own propaganda about whites being in a process of racial degeneration and were actually turning into the drooling, snarling demonical creatures depicted in their cartoons.[3] Thus, the Foreign Minister Yōsuke Matsuoka had stated in a 1940 press conference that "the mission of the Yamato race is to prevent the human race from becoming devilish, to rescue it from destruction and lead it to the light of the world".[4] At least some people within the Asian colonies of the European powers had welcomed the Japanese as liberators from the Europeans. In the Dutch East Indies, the nationalist leader Sukarno in 1942 had created the formula of the "Three A's"-Japan the Light of Asia, Japan the Protector of Asia and Japan the Leader of Asia.[5] For all their Pan-Asian talk about creating a Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere where all the Asian peoples would live together as brothers and sisters, in reality as shown by the July 1943 planning document An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus, the Japanese saw themselves as the racially superior "Great Yamato race", which was naturally destined to dominate forever the other racially inferior Asian peoples.[6]

Prior to the Greater East Asia Conference, Japan had made vague promises of independence to various anti-colonial pro-independence organizations in the territories it had overrun, but aside from a number of obvious Imperial General Headquarters to annex these territories to the Japanese Empire on May 31, 1943, rather than to grant nominal independence. This action considerably undermined efforts to portray Japan as the "liberator" of the Asian peoples. Indonesian independence leaders Achmed Sukarno and Muhammad Hatta were invited to Tokyo shortly after the close of the Conference for informal meetings, but were not allowed to participate in the Conference itself.[7] In the end, seven countries (including Japan) participated.

Participants

There were six "independent" participants and one observer that attended the Greater East Asia Conference.[8] These are:

Strictly speaking, Subhas Chandra Bose was present only as an "observer", since India was still under British rule. Furthermore, the Kingdom of Thailand sent Prince Wan Waithayakon in place of Premier Plaek Pibulsonggram to emphasize that Thailand was not a country under Japanese domination. The Premier was also worried that he might be ousted should he leave Bangkok.[9] Tojo greeted them with a speech praising the "spiritual essence" of Asia, as opposed to the "materialistic civilization" of the West.[10] Their meeting was characterized by praise of solidarity and condemnation of Western colonialism, but without practical plans for either economic development or integration.[11] As Korea had been annexed to Japan in 1910, there was no official Korean delegation to the conference, but a number of leading Korean intellectuals such as the historian Choe Nam-seon, the novelist Yi Kwang-su and the children's writer Ma Haesong attended the conference as part of the Japanese delegation to deliver speeches praising Japan and to express their thanks to the Japanese for colonizing Korea.[12] The purpose of these speeches was to reassure other Asian peoples about their future in a Japanese-dominated Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. The fact that Choe and Yi had once been Korean independence activists who had been bitterly opposed to the Japanese rule made their presence at the conference a real propaganda coup for the Japanese, as it seemed to show that Japanese imperialism was so beneficial to the peoples subjected to Japan that even those who once been opposed to the Japanese had now seen the errors of their ways.[13] In addition, the Korean speakers strongly condemned the "Anglo-Saxon" powers Britain and the U.S as the most deadly enemies of Asian civilization that had ever existed, and praised Japan as the defender of Asia from the "Anglo-Saxons".[12]

Themes

The major theme of the conference was for the need for all the Asian peoples to rally behind Japan and offer an inspiring example of Pan-Asian idealism against the evil "white devils".[14] The American historian John W. Dower wrote that the various delegates "...placed the war in the East-versus-the West, Oriental-versus-the Occidental, and ultimately a blood-versus-blood context."[14] Ba Maw of Burma stated: "My Asian blood has always called out to other Asians...This is not the time to think with other minds, this is the time to think with our blood, and this thinking has brought me from Burma to Japan."[14] General Hideki Tojo of Japan stated in his speech: "It is an incontrovertible fact that the nations of Greater East Asia are bound in every respect by ties of an inseparable relationship".[15] Jose Laurel of the Philippines in his speech claimed that no-one in the world could "stop or delay the acquisition of one billion Asians of the free and untrammelled right and opportunity to shape their own destiny".[16]

Joint Declaration

The Joint Declaration of the Greater East Asia Conference was published as follows:

It is the basic principle for the establishment of world peace that the nations of the world have each its proper place, and enjoy prosperity in common through mutual aid and assistance. The United States of America and the British Empire have in seeking their own prosperity oppressed other nations and peoples. Especially in East Asia, they indulged in insatiable aggression and exploitation, and sought to satisfy their inordinate ambition of enslaving the entire region, and finally they came to menace seriously the stability of East Asia. Herein lies the cause of the recent war. The countries of Greater East Asia, with a view to contributing to the cause of world peace, undertake to cooperate toward prosecuting the War of Greater East Asia to a successful conclusion, liberating their region from the yoke of British-American domination, and ensuring their self-existence and self-defense, and in constructing a Greater East Asia in accordance with the following principles:
  • The countries of Greater East Asia through mutual cooperation will ensure the stability of their region and construct an order of common prosperity and well-being based upon justice.
  • The countries of Greater East Asia will ensure the fraternity of nations in their region, by respecting one another's sovereignty and independence and practicing mutual assistance and amity.
  • The countries of Greater East Asia by respecting one another's traditions and developing the creative faculties of each race, will enhance the culture and civilization of Greater East Asia.
  • The countries of Greater East Asia will endeavor to accelerate their economic development through close cooperation upon a basis of reciprocity and to promote thereby the general prosperity of their region.
  • The countries of Greater East Asia will cultivate friendly relations with all the countries of the world, and work for the abolition of racial discrimination, the promotion of cultural intercourse and the opening of resources throughout the world, and contribute thereby to the progress of mankind.[17]

Consequences

The conference and the formal declaration adhered to on November 6 was little more than a propaganda gesture designed to rally regional support for the next stage of the war, outlining the ideals of which it was fought.[7] However, the Conference marked a turning point in Japanese foreign policy and relations with other Asian nations. The defeat of Japanese forces on [19] A deeply disillusioned Ba Maw later recalled after the war: "The brutality, arrogance, and racial pretensions of the Japanese militarists in Burma remain among the deepest Burmese memories of the war years; for a great many people in South-East Asia these are all they remember of the war."[19]

See also

Notes

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 pages 244-246
  3. ^ Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 page 244
  4. ^ Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 pages 244-245
  5. ^ Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 page 6
  6. ^ Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 page 263-264
  7. ^ a b c Smith, Changing Visions of East Asia, pp. 19-24
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ W. G. Beasley, The Rise of Modern Japan, p 204 ISBN 0-312-04077-6
  11. ^ Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa to the Present, p211, ISBN 0-19-511060-9, OCLC 49704795
  12. ^ a b Kyung Moon Hwang A History of Korea, London: Palgrave, 2010 page 191
  13. ^ Kyung Moon Hwang A History of Korea, London: Palgrave, 2010 pages 190-191
  14. ^ a b c Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 page 6.
  15. ^ Horner, David The Second World War Part 1 The Pacific, London: Osprey, 2002 page 71
  16. ^ Horner, David The Second World War Part 1 The Pacific, London: Osprey, 2002 page 71
  17. ^ WW2DB: Greater East Asia Conference
  18. ^ Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 page 7
  19. ^ a b c Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 page 46
  20. ^ Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 page 47
  21. ^ Dower, John War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 1993 pages 47-48
  22. ^ Murray, Williamson & Milet, Alan A War To Be Won, Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2000 page 545
  23. ^ Murray, Williamson & Milet, Alan A War To Be Won, Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2000 page 555
  24. ^ Murray, Williamson & Milet, Alan A War To Be Won, Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2000 page 553

References

External links

  • World War II Database
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