The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere(Japanese:大東亜共栄圏 Hepburn:Dai Tōa Kyōeiken) was an imperialist concept created and promulgated for occupied Asian populations from 1930 to 1945 by the Empire of Japan. It extended across the Asia-Pacific and promoted the cultural and economic unity of East Asians, Southeast Asians, South Asians and Oceanians. It also declared the intention to create a self-sufficient "bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers". It was announced in a radio address entitled "The International Situation and Japan's Position" by Foreign Minister Hachirō Arita on 29 June 1940.
Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.
Hepburn romanization is a system for the romanization of Japanese that uses the Latin alphabet to write the Japanese language. It is used by most foreigners learning to spell Japanese in the Latin alphabet and by the Japanese for romanizing personal names, geographical locations, and other information such as train tables, road signs, and official communications with foreign countries. Largely based on English writing conventions, consonants closely correspond to the English pronunciation and vowels approximate the Italian pronunciation.
Imperialism is policy or ideology of extending a nation's rule over foreign nations, often by military force or by gaining political and economic control of other areas. Imperialism was both normal and common worldwide throughout recorded history, the earliest examples dating from the mid 3rd millenium BC, diminishing only in the late 20th century. In recent times, it has been considered morally reprehensible and prohibited by international law. Therefore, the term is used in international propaganda to denounce an opponent's foreign policy.
The intent and practical implementation of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere varied widely depending on the group and government department involved. Policy theorists who conceived it, as well as the vast majority of the Japanese population at large, largely saw it for its pan-Asian ideals of freedom and independence from Western colonial oppression. In practice, however, it was frequently corrupted by militarists and nationalists, who saw an effective policy vehicle through which to strengthen Japan's position and advance its dominance within Asia.The latter approach was reflected in a policy document released by Japan's Ministry of Health and Welfare, An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus , which laid out the central position of Japan within the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and promoted the idea of Japanese superiority over other Asians.
Pan-Asianism is an ideology that promotes the unity of Asian peoples. Several theories and movements of Pan-Asianism have been proposed, specifically from East, South and Southeast Asia. Motivating the movement has been resistance to Western imperialism and colonialism and a belief that "Asian values" should take precedence over "European values." During the Cold War, the movement became less vigorous, as nations in the region aligned with one or the other of the superpowers.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is a cabinet level ministry of the Japanese government. It is commonly known as Kōrō-shō (厚労省) in Japan. The ministry provides regulations on maximum residue limits for agricultural chemicals in foods, basic food and drug regulations, standards for foods, food additives, etc.
An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus was a secret Japanese government report created by the Ministry of Health and Welfare's Population Problems Research Center, and completed on July 1, 1943.
Similar to the term "Third Reich", which was a military exploitation of a non-military term proposed by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, the phrase "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" was proposed by Kiyoshi Miki, a Kyoto School analytic philosopher who was actually opposed to militarism.
Arthur Moeller van den Bruck was a German cultural historian and writer, best known for his controversial 1923 book Das Dritte Reich, which promoted German nationalism and was a strong influence on the Conservative Revolutionary movement and later the Nazi Party. He did not support the party, however. From 1906 to 1922, he also published Elisabeth Kaerrick's first full German translation of Dostoyevsky's works.
Kiyoshi Miki was a Japanese philosopher.
The Kyoto School is the name given to the Japanese philosophical movement centered at Kyoto University that assimilated western philosophy and religious ideas and used them to reformulate religious and moral insights unique to the East Asian cultural tradition. However, it is also used to describe postwar scholars who have taught at the same university, been influenced by the foundational thinkers of Kyoto school philosophy, and who have developed distinctive theories of Japanese uniqueness. To disambiguate the term, therefore, thinkers and writers covered by this second sense appear under The Kyoto University Research Centre for the Cultural Sciences.
An earlier, influential concept was the geographically smaller version called New Order in East Asia (東亜新秩序Tōa Shin Chitsujo), which was announced by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on 22 December 1938 and was limited to Northeast Asia only.
The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government of Japan. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the National Diet and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office. He is the chairman of the Cabinet and appoints and dismisses the other Ministers of State. The literal translation of the Japanese name for the office is Minister for the Comprehensive Administration of the Cabinet.
Prince Fumimaro Konoe was a Japanese politician in the Empire of Japan who served as the 34th, 38th and 39th Prime Minister of Japan and founder/leader of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association. He was Prime Minister in the lead-up to Japan entering World War II.
Terms such as Northeast Asia, North East Asia, or Northeastern Asia refer to a subregion of Asia: the northeastern landmass and islands, bordering the Pacific Ocean. It includes the core countries of East Asia.
The original concept was an idealistic wish to "free" Asia from European colonial powers, but soon, nationalists saw it as a way to gain resources to keep Japan a modern power, and militarists saw the same resources as raw materials for war.Many Japanese nationalists were drawn to it as an ideal. Many of them remained convinced, throughout the war, that the Sphere was idealistic, offering slogans in a newspaper competition, praising the sphere for constructive efforts and peace.
Konoe planned the Sphere in 1940 in an attempt to create a Great East Asia, comprising Japan, Manchukuo, China, and parts of Southeast Asia, that would, according to imperial propaganda, establish a new international order seeking "co-prosperity" for Asian countries which would share prosperity and peace, free from Western colonialism and domination.Military goals of this expansion included naval operations in the Indian Ocean and the isolation of Australia. This would enable the principle of hakkō ichiu.
The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.
Manchukuo was a puppet state of the Empire of Japan in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. It was founded as a republic, but in 1934 it became a constitutional monarchy. It had limited international recognition and was under the de facto control of Japan.
The Republic of China (ROC), was a state in East Asia which controlled the Chinese mainland between 1912 and 1949. The state was established in January 1912 after the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. Its government fled to Taipei in 1949 due to the Kuomintang's defeat in the Chinese Civil War. The Republic of China's first president, Sun Yat-sen, served only briefly before handing over the position to Yuan Shikai, leader of the Beiyang Army. His party, then led by Song Jiaoren won the parliamentary election held in December 1912. Song Jiaoren was assassinated shortly after and the Beiyang Army led by Yuan Shikai maintained full control of the Beiyang government. Between late 1915 and early 1916, Yuan Shikai tried to reinstate the monarchy before abdicating due to popular unrest. After Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, members of cliques in the Beiyang Army claimed their autonomy and clashed with each other. During this period, the authority of the Beiyang government was weakened by a restoration of the Qing dynasty.
This was one of a number of slogans and concepts used in the justification of Japanese aggression in East Asia in the 1930s through the end of World War II. The term "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" is remembered largely as a front for the Japanese control of occupied countries during World War II, in which puppet governments manipulated local populations and economies for the benefit of Imperial Japan.
To combat the protectionist dollar and sterling zones, Japanese economic planners called for a "yen bloc".Japan's experiment with such financial imperialism encompassed both official and semi-official colonies. In the period between 1895 (when Japan annexed Taiwan) and 1937 (the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War), monetary specialists in Tokyo directed and managed programs of coordinated monetary reforms in Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria, and the peripheral Japanese-controlled islands in the Pacific. These reforms aimed to foster a network of linked political and economic relationships. These efforts foundered in the eventual debacle of the Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The concept of a unified East Asia took form based on an Imperial Japanese Army concept that originated with General Hachirō Arita, an army ideologist who served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1936 to 1940. The Japanese Army said the new Japanese empire was an Asian equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine,especially with the Roosevelt Corollary. The regions of Asia, it was argued, were as essential to Japan as Latin America was to the United States.
The Japanese Foreign Minister Yōsuke Matsuoka formally announced the idea of the Co-Prosperity Sphere on 1 August 1940, in a press interview,but it had existed in other forms for many years. Leaders in Japan had long had an interest in the idea. The outbreak of World War II fighting in Europe had given the Japanese an opportunity to demand the withdrawal of support from China in the name of "Asia for Asiatics", with the European powers unable to effectively retaliate. Many of the other nations within the boundaries of the sphere were under colonial rule and elements of their population were sympathetic to Japan (as in the case of Indonesia), occupied by Japan in the early phases of the war and reformed under puppet governments, or already under Japan's control at the outset (as in the case of Manchukuo). These factors helped make the formation of the sphere, while lacking any real authority or joint power, come together without much difficulty.
As part of its war drive, Japanese propaganda included phrases like "Asia for the Asiatics!" and talked about the perceived need to liberate Asian countries from imperialist powers.The failure to win the Second Sino-Japanese War 1937–1941 (–1945) was blamed on British and American exploitation of Southeast Asian colonies, even though the Chinese received far more assistance from the Soviet Union. In some cases local people welcomed Japanese troops when they invaded, driving out British, French, and other governments and military forces. In general, however, the subsequent pragmatism and brutality of the Japanese military, particularly in China, led to people of the occupied areas regarding the new Japanese imperialists as much worse than the Western imperialists. The Japanese government directed that local economies be managed strictly for the production of raw war materials for the Japanese; a cabinet member declared, "There are no restrictions. They are enemy possessions. We can take them, do anything we want."
An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus – a secret document completed in 1943 for high-ranking government use – laid out that Japan, as the originators and strongest military power within the region, would naturally take the superior position within the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, with the other nations under Japan's umbrella of protection.
China and other Asian nations, on their own, were regarded as too weak and lacking in unity to be treated as fully equal partners, and this in any case would not have been in Japan's self-interest.The booklet Read This and the War is Won—for the Japanese army—presented colonialism as an oppressive group of colonists living in luxury by burdening Asians. Since racial ties of blood connected other Asians to the Japanese, and Asians had been weakened by colonialism, it was Japan's self-appointed role to "make men of them again" and liberate them from their Western oppressors.
From the Japanese point of view, one common principal reason stood behind both forming the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and initiating war with the Allies: Chinese markets. Japan wanted their "paramount relations" in regard to Chinese markets acknowledged by the U.S. government. The U.S., recognizing the abundance of potential wealth in these markets, refused to let the Japanese have an advantage in selling to China. In an attempt to give Japan a formal advantage over the Chinese markets, the Japanese Imperial regime first invaded China and later launched the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
According to Foreign Minister Shigenori Tōgō (in office 1941–1942 and 1945), should Japan be successful in creating this sphere, it would emerge as the leader of Eastern Asia, and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere would be synonymous with the Japanese Empire.
The Greater East Asia Conference(大東亜会議Dai Tōa Kaigi) took place in Tokyo on 5–6 November 1943: Japan hosted the heads of state of various component members of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The conference was also referred to as the Tokyo Conference. The common language used by the delegates during the conference was English.
The conference addressed few issues of substance but was intended by the Japanese 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.
The following dignitaries attended:
Tojo greeted them with a speech praising the "spiritual essence" of Asia, as opposed to the "materialistic civilization" of the West.Their meeting was characterized by praise of solidarity and condemnation of Western colonialism but without practical plans for either economic development or integration.
The conference issued a Joint Declaration promoting economic and political cooperation against the Allied countries.
Member countries and the year in which they joined the sphere:
The ideology of the Japanese colonial empire, as it expanded dramatically during the war, contained two contradictory impulses. On the one hand, it preached the unity of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a coalition of Asian races, directed by Japan, against the imperialism of the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, the United States, and European imperialism generally. This approach celebrated the spiritual values of the East in opposition to the crass materialism of the West.In practice, however, the Japanese installed organizationally-minded bureaucrats and engineers to run their new empire, and they believed in ideals of efficiency, modernization, and engineering solutions to social problems.
Japan set up puppet regimes in Manchuria and China; they vanished at the end of the war. The Imperial Army operated ruthless governments in most of the conquered areas, but paid more favorable attention to the Dutch East Indies. The main goal was to obtain oil. The Dutch destroyed their oil wells but the Japanese reopened them. However most of the tankers taking oil to Japan were sunk by American submarines, so Japan's oil shortage became increasingly acute. Japan sponsored an Indonesian nationalist movement under Sukarno.Sukarno finally came to power in the late 1940s after several years of battling the Dutch.
With a view of building up the economic base of the Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Japanese Army envisioned using the Philippine islands as a source of agricultural products needed by its industry. For example, Japan had a surplus of sugar from Taiwan, and a severe shortage of cotton, so they tried to grow cotton on sugar lands with disastrous results. They lacked the seeds, pesticides, and technical skills to grow cotton. Jobless farm workers flocked to the cities, where there was minimal relief and few jobs. The Japanese Army also tried using cane sugar for fuel, castor beans and copra for oil, derris for quinine, cotton for uniforms, and abaca (hemp) for rope. The plans were very difficult to implement in the face of limited skills, collapsed international markets, bad weather, and transportation shortages. The program was a failure that gave very little help to Japanese industry, and diverted resources needed for food production.As Karnow reports, Filipinos "rapidly learned as well that 'co-prosperity' meant servitude to Japan's economic requirements".
Living conditions were bad throughout the Philippines during the war. Transportation between the islands was difficult because of lack of fuel. Food was in very short supply, with sporadic famines and epidemic diseases that killed hundreds of thousands of people.In October 1943, Japan declared the Philippines an independent republic. The Japanese-sponsored Second Philippine Republic headed by President José P. Laurel proved to be ineffective and unpopular as Japan maintained very tight controls.
The Co-Prosperity Sphere collapsed with Japan's surrender to the Allies in August 1945. Although Japan succeeded in stimulating anti-Westernism in parts of Asia, the sphere never materialized into a unified Asia. Dr. Ba Maw, wartime President of Burma under the Japanese, blamed the Japanese military:
The militarists saw everything only in a Japanese perspective and, even worse, they insisted that all others dealing with them should do the same. For them there was only one way to do a thing, the Japanese way; only one goal and interest, the Japanese interest; only one destiny for the East Asian countries, to become so many Manchukuos or Koreas tied forever to Japan. These racial impositions ... made any real understanding between the Japanese militarists and the people of our region virtually impossible.
In other words, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere operated not for the betterment of all the Asian countries, but rather for Japan's own interests, and thus the Japanese failed to gather support in other Asian countries. Nationalist movements did appear in these Asian countries during this period and these nationalists did, to some extent, cooperate with the Japanese. However, Willard Elsbree, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio University, claims that the Japanese government and these nationalist leaders never developed "a real unity of interests between the two parties, [and] there was no overwhelming despair on the part of the Asians at Japan's defeat".
The failure of Japan to understand the goals and interests of the other countries involved in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere led to a weak association of countries bound to Japan only in theory and not in spirit. Dr. Ba Maw argues that Japan could have engineered a very different outcome if the Japanese had only managed to act in accord with the declared aims of "Asia for the Asiatics". He argues that if Japan had proclaimed this maxim at the beginning of the war, and if the Japanese had actually acted on that idea,
No military defeat could then have robbed her of the trust and gratitude of half of Asia or even more, and that would have mattered a great deal in finding for her a new, great, and abiding place in a postwar world in which Asia was coming into her own.
Pamphlets were dropped by airplane on the Philippines, Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, Singapore, and Indonesia, urging them to join this movement.Mutual cultural societies were founded in all conquered nations to ingratiate with the natives and try to supplant English with Japanese as the commonly used language. Multi-lingual pamphlets depicted many Asians marching or working together in happy unity, with the flags of all the nations and a map depicting the intended sphere. Others proclaimed that they had given independent governments to the countries they occupied, a claim undermined by the lack of power given these puppet governments.
In Thailand, a street was built to demonstrate it, to be filled with modern buildings and shops, but 9⁄10 of it consisted of false fronts. A network of Japanese-sponsored film production, distribution, and exhibition companies extended across the Japanese Empire and was collectively referred to as the Greater East Asian Film Sphere. These film centers mass-produced shorts, newsreels, and feature films to encourage Japanese language acquisition as well as cooperation with Japanese colonial authorities.
Prior to the escalation of World War II to the Pacific and East Asia, the Japanese planners regarded it as self-evident that the conquests secured in Japan's earlier wars with Russia (South Sakhalin and Kwantung), Germany (Nanyo) and China (Manchuria) would be retained, as well as Korea (Chōsen), Taiwan (Formosa), the recently seized additional portions of China and occupied French Indochina.
A reasonably accurate indication as to the geographic dimensions of the Co-Prosperity Sphere are elaborated on in a Japanese wartime document prepared in December 1941 by the Research Department of the Imperial Ministry of War. 大東亜共栄圏における土地処分案) it was put together with the consent of and according to the directions of the Minister of War (later Prime Minister) Hideki Tōjō. It assumed that the already established puppet governments of Manchukuo, Mengjiang, and the Wang Jingwei regime in Japanese-occupied China would continue to function in these areas. Beyond these contemporary parts of Japan's sphere of influence it also envisaged the conquest of a vast range of territories covering virtually all of East Asia, the Pacific Ocean, and even sizable portions of the Western Hemisphere, including in locations as far removed from Japan as South America and the eastern Caribbean.Known as the "Land Disposal Plan in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" (
Although the projected extension of the Co-Prosperity Sphere was extremely ambitious, the Japanese goal during the "Greater East Asia War" was not to acquire all the territory designated in the plan at once, but to prepare for a future decisive war some 20 years later by conquering the Asian colonies of the defeated European powers, as well as the Philippines from the United States.When Tōjō spoke on the plan to the House of Peers he was vague about the long-term prospects, but insinuated that the Philippines and Burma might be allowed independence, although vital territories such as Hong Kong would remain under Japanese rule.
The islands north of the equator that had been seized from Germany in World War I and which were assigned to Japan as C-Class Mandates, namely the Marianas, Carolines, Marshall Islands, and several others do not figure in this project.They were the subject of earlier negotiations with the Germans and were expected to be officially ceded to Japan in return for economic and monetary compensations.
The plan divided Japan's future empire into two different groups.The first group of territories were expected to become either part of Japan or otherwise be under its direct administration. Second were those territories that would fall under the control of a number of tightly-controlled pro-Japanese vassal states based on the model of Manchukuo, as nominally "independent" members of the Greater East Asian alliance.
Parts of the plan depended on successful negotiations with Nazi Germany and a global victory by the Axis powers. After Germany and Italy declared war on the United States on 11 December 1941, Japan presented the Germans with a drafted military convention that would specifically delimit the Asian continent by a dividing line along the 70th meridian east longitude. This line, running southwards through the Ob River's Arctic estuary, southwards to just east of Khost in Afghanistan and heading into the Indian Ocean just west of Rajkot in India, would have split Germany's Lebensraum and Italy's spazio vitale territories to the west of it, and Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and its other areas to the east of it.The plan of the Third Reich for fortifying its own Lebensraum territory's eastern limits, beyond which the Co-Prosperity Sphere's northwestern frontier areas would exist in Northeast Asia, involved the creation of a "living wall" of Wehrbauer "soldier-peasant" communities defending it. However, it is unknown if the Axis powers ever formally negotiated a possible, complementary second demarcation line that would have divided the Western Hemisphere.
Nobusuke Kishi was a Japanese politician and the 56th and 57th Prime Minister of Japan from 25 February 1957 to 12 June 1958, and from then to 19 July 1960. He is the maternal grandfather of Shinzō Abe, twice prime minister in 2006–2007 and 2012–present.
Ikki Kita was a Japanese author, intellectual and political philosopher who was active in early-Shōwa period Japan. A harsh critic of the Emperor system and the Meiji Constitution, he asserted that the Japanese were not the emperor's people, rather the Emperor was the "people's emperor". He advocated a complete reconstruction of Japan through a form of statist, right-wing socialism. Kita was in contact with many people on the extreme right of Japanese politics, and wrote pamphlets and books expounding his ideas. The government saw Kita's ideas as disruptive and dangerous; in 1937 he was implicated, although not directly involved, in a failed coup attempt and executed. He is still widely read in academic circles in Japan.
The Shōwa period, or Shōwa era, refers to the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926 until his death on January 7, 1989.
This article is concerned with the events that preceded World War II in Asia.
The Ministry of Greater East Asia was a cabinet-level ministry in the government of the Empire of Japan from 1942 to 1945, established to administer overseas territories obtained by Japan in the Pacific War and to coordinate the establishment and development of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The South Pacific Mandate was a League of Nations mandate given to the Empire of Japan by the League of Nations following World War I. The South Pacific Mandate consisted of islands in the north Pacific Ocean that had been part of German New Guinea within the German colonial empire until they were occupied by Japan during World War I. Japan governed the islands under the mandate as part of the Japanese colonial empire until World War II, when the United States captured the islands. The islands then became the United Nations-established Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands governed by the United States. The islands are now part of Palau, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Marshall Islands.
Hakkō ichiu(八紘一宇, "eight crown cords, one roof" i.e. "all the world under one roof") was a Japanese political slogan that became popular from the Second Sino-Japanese War to World War II, and was popularized in a speech by Prime Minister of Japan Fumimaro Konoe on January 8, 1940.
Propaganda in imperial Japan, in the period just before and during World War II, was designed to assist the ruling government of Japan during that time. Many of its elements were continuous with pre-war elements of Shōwa statism, including the principles of kokutai, hakkō ichiu, and bushido. New forms of propaganda were developed to persuade occupied countries of the benefits of the Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, to undermine American troops' morale, to counteract claims of Japanese atrocities, and to present the war to the Japanese people as victorious. It started with the Second Sino-Japanese War, which merged into World War II. It used a large variety of media to send its messages.
Shotouka-Chiri is a geography book for elementary schools that was published in Japan in 1943. It was the official geography text for obligatory use in the Kokumin Gakkou, or National School. It complemented the Japanese history present in Shinmin no Michi and Kokutai no Hongi official texts amongst the Imperial Rescripts on Education.
Nanshin-ron was a political doctrine in the Empire of Japan which stated that Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands were Japan's sphere of interest and that the potential value to the Japanese Empire for economic and territorial expansion in those areas was greater than elsewhere.
The Second Philippine Republic, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, or known in the Philippines as Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic, was a puppet state established on October 14, 1943, during the Japanese occupation.
Hideo Iwakuro was a major general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
The Greater East Asia Conference was an international summit held in Tokyo from 5 to 6 November 1943, in which the Empire of 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 East Asia Development Board, or Kōain (興亜院), was a cabinet level agency in the Empire of Japan that operated between 1938 and 1942. It was created on 18 November 1938 under the first Konoe administration to coordinate the government's China policy. It was initially designed to sponsor industrial and commercial development in China to boost support for Japanese rule in occupied territories. However, the agency was quickly usurped by the Imperial Japanese Army and became a tool for forced labour and enslavement in mines and war industries. It was absorbed into the Ministry of Greater East Asia in 1942.
The Japanese colonial empire constituted the overseas colonies established by Imperial Japan in the Western Pacific and East Asia region from 1895. Victories over China and Russia expanded the Japanese sphere of influence, notably in Taiwan and Korea, and South Sakhalin became a colony of Japan as the Karafuto Prefecture in 1905.
As the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan cemented their military alliance by mutually declaring war against the United States by December 11, 1941, the Japanese proposed a clear territorial arrangement with the two main European Axis powers concerning the Asian continent. On December 15 they presented the Germans with a drafted military convention that would delimit the continent of Asia into two separate "operational spheres" by a dividing line along the 70th meridian east longitude, going southwards through the Ob River's Arctic estuary, southwards to just east of Khost in Afghanistan and heading into the Indian Ocean just west of Rajkot in India, to split the Lebensraum land holdings of Germany and the similar spazio vitale areas of Italy to the west of it, and the Empire of Japan to the east of it, after a complete defeat of the Soviet Union by the Third Reich.
The ABCD line was a Japanese name for a series of embargoes against Japan by foreign nations, including America, Britain, China, and the Dutch. It was also known as the ABCD encirclement. In 1940, in an effort to discourage Japanese militarism, these nations and others stopped selling iron ore, steel and oil to Japan, denying it the raw materials needed to continue its activities in China and French Indochina. In Japan, the government and nationalists viewed these embargoes as acts of aggression; imported oil made up about 80% of domestic consumption, without which Japan's economy, let alone its military, would grind to a halt. The Japanese media, influenced by military propagandists, began to refer to the embargoes as the "ABCD ("American-British-Chinese-Dutch") encirclement" or "ABCD line".
Hideki Tojo was a Japanese statesman and general of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), the leader of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, and the 27th Prime Minister of Japan during much of World War II, from October 17, 1941, to July 22, 1944. He is best known for his actions as Prime Minister during the war, such as being responsible for ordering the attack on Pearl Harbor and many war actions, which initiated war between Japan and the United States, although planning for it had begun in April 1941, before he entered office. After the end of the war, Tojo was arrested, condemned and sentenced to death for war crimes by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, and hanged on December 23, 1948.
The Empire of Japan entered World War II by launching a surprise offensive which opened with the attack on Pearl Harbor at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time on December 7, 1941. Over the course of seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The strategic goals of the offensive were to cripple the U.S. Pacific fleet, capture oil fields in the Dutch East Indies, and expand the outer reaches of the Japanese Empire to create a formidable defensive perimeter around newly acquired territory.
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