1. Japanese imperialism in Asia - during and after World War One, Japan had expanded her influence in the Far East tremendously. During the War, Japan had obtained valuable concessions from China through the Twenty-One Demands. She had strengthened her hold in Manchuria and Mongolia. In the Pacific area, Japan secured mandatory power over former German islands north of the Equator - the Marshalls, Carolines and Marianas. This chain of Pacific islands gave Japan potential bases for expansion. In Russia, Japanese troops took part in upholding Admiral Kolchak’s White government in Siberia during 1918-19. Later, the other Allies (Britain, France, and the United States) withdrew, but the Japanese still remained in the Maritime Provinces. In 1920, Japan seized Sakhalin as a result of incidents involving the killing of Japanese soldiers. Thus, Japan’s imperial expansion had given her “naval dominance” in the western Pacific and “political dominance” in China.
Japan’s political dominance in China tended to exclude other countries and openly challenged America’s Open Door Policy in China. Other factors intensified the feeling of uneasiness. There was a post-war revival of anti-Japanese agitation on the West coast. For example, California demanded the exclusion of Japanese immigrants from the West coast. Also the treatment of Japan’s emigrants in the States antagonized Japan.
Besides, Japan and the United States were building up their naval strength, and unrestrained arms race would lead to possible wars. The United States Department of Navy had a plan of building a total of fifty capital ships. The American public was very much concerned with the consequences that would happen as a result of naval competition with Japan. Besides, the heavy naval expenditure was not acceptable to the public (taxpayers) and the American Congress
the Anglo-Japanese Alliance which was originally anti-Russia was due to expire in July 1921. The possibility of further renewal alarmed the United States and the British Dominions such as Canada and Australia. They believed that the Alliance would help rather than restrain Japan’s ambitions. Moreover, any conflict between the United States and.Japan might involve Britain on Japanese side. There was increasing opposition against renewal of the Alliance. A substitute was most needed to replace the Alliance
the Versailles Conference had unfairly treated China which was one of the victors. The Japanese possession of Shantung, with the reluctant consent of the western powers, had aroused the Chinese and sparked off the May Fourth Movement. Meanwhile, the Russian Bolshevik government had voluntarily given up the Tzarist unequal treaties with China. This action gratified the Chinese and so originated the communist movement in China. The western powers felt it necessary to appease the Chinese.
in December 1921, the United States invited eight countries to attend a conference: Britain, France, Italy, Japan, China, Belgium, Portugal, and the Netherlands
Its main purpose was to settle Far Eastern affairs which had not been settled during the Versailles Conference. As a result of the conference, three international treaties were signed: Four Power Treaty, Five Power Treaty, and Nine Power Treaty.
Four Power Treaty - the Four Power Treaty was agreed to in December 1921. This was a consultative agreement among the four powers (Britain, Japan, United States, France) to replace the essentially military Anglo-Japanese Alliance. It was “a multilateral pledge whereby they agree to respect each other’s right in insular possessions in the Pacific and to consult each other in case these rights should become the subject of controversy or the subject of a threat by an outside power.”
Five Power Treaty - the Five Treaty was signed in February 1922. The American proposal that the United States, Britain, and Japan should not build any capital ships for the next ten years was accepted. A ratio for the total tonnage of capital ships for each power was established. The ratio was to be 5 (Britain), 5 (the United States), 3 (Japan), 1.67 (France), 1.67 (Italy). In return, the Japanese proposal for the non-fortification of the Pacific islands of the signatory powers was accepted. This meant that the Philippines, Guam, Hong Kong, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, and the Pescadores were not to be fortified any further
Nine Power Treaty - the Nine Power Treaty was signed in February 1922. It announced four principles with regard to China: guarantee of China’s integrity, equality of opportunity to all, opportunity to China to develop herself, and abstention from special privileges in China. In a sense, the Treaty was an international (America, Britain, Japan, France, Italy, China, Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands) agreement to abide by America’s Open Door Policy in China
Other settlements - under the pressure of the powers, Japan agreed to return Kiaochow to China and to withdraw from the Shantung Peninsula. She was to retain the Tsingtao- Tsinan Railway for fifteen years. The powers refused to put their subjects under Chinese law but limited concessions were made. Foreign post offices were closed. Commissions were set up to study the issues of extraterritoriality and tariff autonomy
The Four Power Treaty ensured peaceful relationship among the four powers and eased the tension between Japan and the United States. Japan, with “inferior” naval strength and an obligation to respect the other power’s insular possessions, thus lost her preponderant influence in the Far East. At any rate, the more cordial relation between America and Britain would help to restrain Japan’s ambitions in the area.
The Five Power Treaty put an end to the possibility of naval race among the powers. It was particularly beneficial to Japan because her limited resources were not able to stand continuous competition. All in all, such naval limitation restored a balance of naval power in the Pacific.
The Nine Power Treaty at least verbally guaranteed China’s integrity. Nevertheless, the powers did not surrender extraterritoriality and tariff autonomy and they were able to establish once again their respective influence in China. Together with Japan’s return of Shantung to China, China was again open to all
In sum, the three treaties restored a balance of power in the Far East. The pre-war equilibrium which had been disturbed by Japan was now restored, apparently, to the disadvantage of Japan. These treaties worked well for a decade in the 1920s because the main potential trouble maker, Japan, had entered her liberal twenties
The Treaties had defects which were revealed in the 1930s.
With regard to the Four Power Treaty- 1. it did not establish any machinery to enforce its provisions. 2. It did not obligate the signatory powers to do anything more than consult one another. Thus, it would be easy for any power, especially Japan, to defy the Treaty if she did not want to abide by its terms.
Five Power Treaty, it had several defects. 1. the failure to extend the limitations on capital ships to the cruisers, auxiliary ships and aircrafts. 2. the equation of 5-5-3 had only apparently established a balance of naval power in the Pacific. It was harmful to both the U.S. and Britain because their fleet had to be scattered throughout the world, whereas the Japanese fleet concentrated only in the Pacific. 3. non-fortification of the American and British bases in the Pacific was equally fatal. This made the bases extremely vulnerable to Japanese attacks.
The Nine Power Treaty was somewhat differently interpreted by the powers concerned. 1. According to the Japanese interpretation, they thought that the Treaty had guaranteed her special interests in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. 2. The term Open Door meant different things to the Japanese and the Americans. Many Japanese understood “the term in the tangible and material sense of throwing China’s resources for their exploitation rather than in the sense of equality of commercial opportunity for the citizens and subjects of all nations in China.” With all these defects within the treaty system, it would be easy for the Japanese to disregard its terms. In fact, after 1931, the Japanese militarists gained power in Japan and began to violate the treaties. She started invading China after 1931 (violating the Nine Power Treaty). In December 1934, Japan gave notice that she intended to withdraw from the Five Power Treaty and began to build up her Pacific navy. Finally in 1941, she invaded the Pacific possessions of the United States and Britain. (violating the Four Power Treaty) The Pacific War thus began.