Accepted paper:

Informal Empire in a Post-Imperialist World: Japan's Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922

Author:

Sven Saaler (Sophia University)

Paper short abstract:

Though the end of WWI is generally regarded as a turning point signifying the replacing of imperialistic values and practices by internationalism, the history of the Siberian Intervention reflected profound disagreements within Japan's ruling elite regarding the future course of foreign politics.

Paper long abstract:

The end of World War I is generally regarded as a turning point signifying the replacing of imperialistic values and practices by Wilsonian internationalism. As I will argue in this presentation, the question is more complicated that such generalizations suggest. In fact, the history of Japan's interference in the Russian Civil War, known as the Siberian Intervention (1918-22), reflected profound disagreements between those Japanese policy-makers who embraced Wilsonianism and those who continued to adhere to traditional imperialist practices. Even after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and the establishment of the League of Nations, the imperialists' influence ensured that Japan continued to strengthen its position in China and that an attempt was made to add Eastern Siberia to its informal empire. Japan, under the pretext of a "humanitarian intervention," drew upon the established methods of pre-World War I imperialism to economically control vast and resource-rich Siberia in contradiction of the new Wilsonian principles.

panel S7_07
The Circulation of Ideas between Japan and Northeast Asia: Possibilities and Limits of Global History