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11-08-2015, 18:51

Greater Japanese Asia

When the Japanese wished to emphasize their victories they called their empire Greater Japanese Asia. When they wished to stress the collaboration of the 'liberated' populations, they called it the 'co-prosperity sphere'. It extended from Manchuria to Rangoon along the coast of East Asia and encompassed all of the archipelagos in the western Pacific as far as the western Aleutians and New7 Guinea. Its area in land and sea amounted to an eighth of the earth's surface. The Japanese believed they had a historic mission to fulfil. It w7as their task to prove that an Asiatic race was superior to the European races. They adapted European science and technology to their needs, but they preserved their own individuality. They would lead the colonized peoples on the path to liberation and progress. Before the war they had already made some attempt to rally emerging nationalism under the Japanese flag. After conquest they organized a Greater Asian Council and later a separate ministry -both steps toward direct rule or complete absorption. The Japanese were immediately trapped in the same contradiction as trapped the Germans. They needed both to protect their empire and to use it in the service of their war effort. It provided them with badly needed sources of energy and raw materials which would be vital to sustain a long war -coal, iron, petroleum, tin, rubber. The conquered territories were governed by military law. Since the navy remained separate from the army, however, and their respective commands guarded their autonomy jealously, it was difficult to administer a coordinated policy from Tokyo. The Japanese lacked time and capital and technical staff to develop the resources of their empire. Thev merely replaced the European colonial administrations as best they could in order to operate a policy of exploitation for their own greatest profit. A tinge of a superiority complex made them a little scornful of the populations they had 'liberated'. The Japanese were strongly tempted to impose Japanese law, customs, language, commodities, even religion, on their empire. They often yielded to this temptation and emerged, in the eyes of the local elites, as merely another colonizer, no more beloved than their predecessors. The future of Greater Japanese Asia was as ill-defined as that of German Europe. One of the few certainties was that China was too big for Japan. A large part of China was simply inaccessible. The Japanese could not occupy China or subjugate it in its entirety. They won complete possession only of Manchuria, which became a satellite state with theoretical independence. Other countries were theoreticallv to be granted similar status: Burma and the Philippines in 1943, the Malaysian states and Indonesia at the end of the war. Borneo and Xew Guinea were to retain full colonial status. The Japanese rewarded the loyalty shown by the Siamese with territory from Cambodia. For their own convenience they retained the French administration in Indochina until March 1 945 : an ambiguous European colonial rule continued. Japanese policy- seems to have determined that India was not ripe for self-government, but India was beyond reach so long as the war continued.