Accepted paper:

Japan's Twenty-One Demands and Their International Impact: New Research on British Sources


Sochi Naraoka (Kyoto University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the international impact of the 21 Demands, mainly using British primary sources that previous research had neglected. It also presents the debate that developed over this issue in the British press, with a focus on the opposition between The Manchester Guardian and The Times.

Paper long abstract:

The Twenty-One Demands, which Japan presented to China in 1915, are known as a turning point in Sino-Japanese relations. By concluding a treaty with China based on these demands, Japan gained a secure place in Manchuria. In retrospect, the demands are regarded as the herald of Japanese expansion on the Continent in the 1930s. On the other hand, China resisted Japan fiercely in the negotiations, which became a catalyst for Chinese nationalism. May 9, the day when the Chinese government accepted the Demands, was named a 'National Humiliation Day'. This paper examines the international impact of the Twenty-One Demands, mainly using British primary sources. Although there are a lot of previous studies drawing on American and Japanese sources, the works based on British archives are relatively few. From this perspective, the paper re-examines how the negotiations proceeded and what impact they had on Sino-Japanese relations during and after the First World War. Discussion also focuses on the British newspapers, which have been neglected in previous studies. British journalists were in a serious dilemma in the face of Japan's demands. Japanese expansion in China clearly had the potential to damage existing British interests, but Japan was an ally and its support was necessary in the war against Germany. The Manchester Guardian, whose position was near to that of the radicals and which reflected the interests of the trading community of Lancashire, was critical of Japan's demands and insisted that British interests in China should be protected. On the other hand, The Times, which was conservative and friendly with the Foreign Office, basically reported in favour of Japan. This paper analyses in particular the initiative taken by Henry Wickham Steed, the director of the Foreign Department of The Times, as well as the roles of the newspaper's correspondents.

panel S7_10
Reflecting Mirrors: Sino-Japanese Relations in the International Public Discourse, 1901-1945