Empire of Prejudice, Prejudice of Empire: American Perception of Japanese Power During the Siberian Intervention

Abstract

This paper demonstrates how the American racial attitudes towards the Japanese Empire and its people were affected by their joint experience of intervening militarily in the Russian Civil War in Siberia. Specially, it covers how journalists, diplomats, and military officers all relied upon racially coded terms and terminology to frame Japanese military power and the possibility of conflict with Japan, which in turn limited and constrained the possibility of a jointly beneficial diplomatic relationship, while also hardening the American perception of the Japanese Empire as dangerous and under-handed. Initially, this project was meant to be an examination of Japanese motivations for intervention, looking specifically at the possibility of their annexing Russian territory in Siberia, but it became clear through research that this possibility was much more of an American paranoid delusion than it was a Japanese strategy of political reality. Therefore, in order to understand the nature of America’s burgeoning and hostile relationship with Japan the twentieth century, I have uncovered the unspoken tensions that informed their last military cooperation, the Siberian Intervention of 1918-1920. Those tensions were neither resolved nor mitigated, and the experiences of seeing how Japanese soldiers treated civilians and how Japanese diplomats manipulated world peace conferences left the American government and people more convinced than before of the dangers of Japanese power

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