Militarism Vs. Liberalism in Japan

February 10, 1932

Report Outline
Dominance of Military in Sino-Japanese Crisis
Foundations of the Japanese Military Tradition
Limitations to Liberalism Under Constitution of 1889
Rise of Political Parties to Position of Influence
Militarism Vs. Liberalism in Japan Since the War

Dominance of Military in Sino-Japanese Crisis

Japanese voters are expected to give the party of Prime Minister Inukai a plurality, if not an outright majority, of the seats in the House of Representatives at the general election to be held February 20, 1932. While the positive military policy now being followed by Japan in China is not an issue in the election campaign, being generally supported by the public, it is recognized that the government now in office is more sympathetic to that adventure than the cabinet which resigned December 11, 1931.

Baron Shidehara, foreign minister in the late government of Prime Minister Wakatsuki, in a letter published in a Tokyo newspaper February 2, warned the government of “irreparable consequences” that might ensue if it should be carried away by the Shanghai excitement. “Japan,” he said, “should set aside her face-saving and settle the trouble at Shanghai in concert with the other powers.” His views seemed to be shared only by a few liberals, mostly educators and professional men. Newspaper approval of the government's course has been almost unanimous.

Dominance of Militarists in Sino-Japanese Crisis

While the Inukai cabinet apparently hesitated to send army units to Shanghai, it seems to have been forced to do so in order to avert the threatened resignation of its war and navy ministers. To explain its action in dispatching a new expeditionary force, the government issued a declaration February 6 that it was prompted by “no other motive than that of discharging its international duty and of safeguarding the large number of Japanese nationals and property worth hundreds of millions,” and that “unless the Chinese, by continuing hostilities or by obstructing our army in attaining these ends, compel it to take necessary action, there is no intention whatever that it should enter upon an aggressive campaign.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Feb. 10, 1932  Militarism Vs. Liberalism in Japan
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific