Japan and the U.S.
Notes from Japan, China and the Powers

For The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

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World War I and Peace: Japanese Not Equal in U.S. Eyes

All [page numbers] reference China, Japan, and the Powers by Meribeth E. Cameron, Thomas H. D. Manhoney, and George E. McReynolds. The Ronald Press Company, New York. Copyright 1952

In 1917 Japan made a deal that with Britain, supporting giving German islands south of the equator, with Japan to keep Shantung [now Shandong] (in China) and German islands north of the equator.  [366-368]

The Japanese moved troops into Manchuria in 1918, under an agreement with China, when Russian authority collapsed, despite U.S. opposition. The Japanese and U.S. jointly invaded Siberia later in 1918 to aid the anti-Communist militarists there, but ostensibly for the “protection of Allied war materiel.” The U.S. withdrew troops by April, 1920, but the Japanese stayed until 1922. [372-373]

At war end the European powers were too exhausted to meddle much in China, but Japan and the United States emerged as rivals. The U.S. “strove from 1914 until 1917 to expand its commercial activities in China, particularly in Manchuria,” which in turn made the Japanese feel they had to push harder. But the U.S.’s attention was diverted to Europe once war was declared on Germany. The Lansing-Ishii Agreement between the U.S. and Japan (represented by Secretary of State Robert Lansing and Viscount Ishii) was an exchange of notes signed November 2, 1917. The U.S. recognized “that Japan has special interests in China, particularly in the part to which her possessions are contiguous.” In return Japan promised to respect the independence and territorial integrity of China, and the open door commercial policy. This was generally believed to be an instance of the U.S. “selling China down the river.” [374-375]

At the Versailles Peace Conference the Japanese asked to have German leases and concessions in China (Kiaochow, Shantung, etc.) transferred to them, as well as German islands in the Pacific north of the equator, all by prior agreements. They also sought a statement of racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations. [More League of Nations info]

The Chinese argued that German concessions in Shantung were illegal to begin with, and therefore should not be transferred to Japan. The U.S. and Britain suggested they get Shantung (as a League mandate to be returned to China later), but Japan threatened to not sign the treaty. In the end Japan got all former German rights in Shantung, but announced they would hand back the peninsula to China and retain only the “economic privileges granted to Germany.” [376]

As to the Marshall, Mariana, and Caroline islands, they did not become Japanese possessions, but were made “Class C” League of Nations mandates. Technically they belonged to the U.N., but Japan had almost unlimited authority over them. It should be noted that Great Britain, through Australia, did get their South Pacific former German islands in a similar fashion. [378]

The Japanese proposal for a racial equality clause (“the principle of the equality of nations and just treatment of their nationals”) was derailed by Woodrow Wilson himself [who was the committed racist head of a racist political organization in the United States, the Democratic Party]. China, France, Italy and others supported this proposal, but it was opposed by the U.S. and Great Britain (which had subjugated vast numbers of non-whites in its colonies). Wilson chaired the committee voting on the proposal, and when Japan won 11 of 17 possible votes, declared that it required unanimous approval. [378-379]

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