Japan declared war on Germany on August 23, 1914. After occupying the German leased territory around Qingdao in China and the German island colonies in Micronesia, Japan’s direct military involvement in the war was limited—apart from sending a squadron to the Mediterranean in 1917 and, later on, its major involvement in the “Siberian Intervention” from 1918 onward. What is less known is that one of the many dimensions of impact that the First World War had on Japan lies in the implications of intensive studies of various aspects of the war that were undertaken by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy as well as by the influential ministerial bureaucracy. Temporary research committees sent dozens of young officers and bureaucrats to Europe and later to the United States, who later compiled voluminous reports on their findings. The participation in these efforts became part of the “space of experience” (Reinhart Kosselleck) of an entire generation of young officers and bureaucrats in their formative years and had a long-lasting impact on a wide range of policy fields in the Interwar Period, arguably driving army and navy officers as well as their counterparts in the bureaucracy to become proponents of what they called the necessity for “a general mobilization of the nation” in the 1930s.
Prof. Dr. Jan Schmidt (KU Leuven)
Venue: Eliot Lecture Theatre 2, Eliot College, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NS
This event is part of the First World War Seminar Series organised by In Flanders Fields Museum and Gateways to the First World War. All seminars are free and open to all. The full seminar programme is published here.
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Image: The cover of the widely read Japanese illustrated war magazine - the Truthful accounts of the European War (Ōshū sensō jikki). The 'gas mask man' is alluding to the important fact that Japanese mass media did not just exoticise the war but images which became iconic in 'the West' as i.e. the gas mask were very well known in East Asia, too.