By Toyowo Ohgushi & T. Takashima; translated by Shocco
Japanese Perspectives, a duo of essays regarding the Japanese political position regarding the 1932 invasion of Manchuria, was originally published in 1933, in the German political science journal Zeitschrift fur Politik. Despite the nationality of its authors, it was originally penned in German, specifically for a European audience. We present it here not necessarily as an endorsement of what it says, or as a vindication of Japanese actions during WWII, but rather as an insight into a historical perspective that one does not often encounter on its own terms: that is, a sympathetic view of Japanese imperialism.
"Three Remarks on the Manchurian Question"
By Toyowo Ohgushi
I. There is an inherent misconception in Europe regarding Manchuria, in that it is historically and popularly a part of China. In contrast, the following quote from the Chinese professor Carsun Chang, the former president of the Institute for Politics in Woosung (Shanghai), from the annual book of public law, volume 19, 1931, p. 318, quote:
“The Manchu tribes originally lived in northern Manchuria. In 1583 their leader, Nurhachu,  conquered all of Manchuria and expanded his influence into Mongolia and Korea. In 1644, the Manchus under their leader Turgon invaded Beijing, made it their capital and founded the Qing dynasty. The Chinese viewed the Manchus as barbarians and hated their rule. They felt it was a particular shame that they had to change their clothes and wear a pigtail. They also regarded it as a disgraceful state of affairs that Manchu garrisons were stationed in all provinces and that the ministries were initially only occupied by Manchus, later by both Manchu and Chinese. Although the Manchus had adapted to the Chinese in language and way of life over the course of more than two centuries, the gulf between the two peoples remained unbridgeable.”
This quote will suffice to establish the correctness of my assertion. But the importance of the Great Wall, which is known to have been built to protect the Chinese against incursions by “barbarian peoples”, must also be added. The Great Wall is the demarcation of central China from foreign countries, including Manchuria.
II. In the 1931 issue  of the Zeitschrift für Politik, Volume 21, p. 582, Dr. Hsu Dau-lin writes in the article “Japanese Continental Policy and the Problem of Railway Policy in Manchuria”:
“To this end, China is planning to expand the port of Hulutao not far from the mouth of the Liao. Then the goods to be transported from Manchuria, no matter where they come from, will no longer be routed via Mukden to the Japanese port of Dairen,  but will be shipped either via Mukden or via Dahushan to the Chinese port of Hulutao; that’s the deathblow for Dairen...” “This is undoubtedly one of the decisive reasons for Japan’s warlike actions in China, all the more so since the Japanese had the Dunghua-Huining line built within the first few days after their invasion of Mukden, and further had completely destroyed the Mukden Bypass Railway Station, the largest station in China, and the uncompleted structure of Hulutao Port.”
It is Mr. Hsu Dau-lin’s fairytale idea that the Japanese, striving for economic advancement in Manchuria, destroyed the Mukden Bypass Railway Station and Hulutao Port. Both the station and the port are, at least for the moment, under Japanese occupation. Why should the Japanese destroy these important economic institutions? Visible evidence to the contrary of the assertions from Dr. Hsu Dau-lin is in front of me, namely a picture—which I put at the disposal of the editors of the magazine for politics—of the port of Hulutao. It was taken just after the port was occupied on January 4, 1932. General Changhsuliang  had the port, which, according to Mr. Hsu Dau-lin’s description, meant the “death blow” for the Japanese port of Dairen in the future, expanded as secretly as possible; observation of the port was strictly forbidden. The expansion was in the hands of a Dutch engineer, but what a surprise for the Japanese when, upon occupation, they found that the work had got stuck at the very beginning. There is only one primitive mole  there, which no modern ship can dock at. Japan therefore had no reason to destroy this hardly usable facility.
III. The Manchu conflict has now been illuminated from all sides, and many factual treatises are available. But the material is less important than the method of dealing with the topic. Based on this thought, two points should be mentioned that are missing in almost all the literature that I have looked at:
"The Source of Error in the Assessment of the Sino-Japanese Conflict"
By T. Takashima
The numerous, completely distorting reports about the last Sino-Japanese conflict remind me vividly of the press releases about Germany in Japan at the beginning of the world war. Although many Japanese were familiar with Germany through personal visits and although they sympathized with it, these reports, written purely for propaganda purposes, undermined belief in the integrity of German diplomacy and the chivalry of the German soldier. Regarding this atmosphere, Count Carlo Sforza wrote two interesting articles on this problem in the Vossische Zeitung on February 28 and March 2, 1932. Precisely because Sforza was personally acquainted with the conditions in the Far East and because, as a well-known pacifist, he was supposed to take a neutral standpoint, I feel obliged to add a few more facts in order to facilitate a correct assessment of the situation, all the more so since the Japanese side has so far been patiently hesitant with the expressions of opinion in the German press.
It is highly understandable when Count Sforza warns against attempting to judge the development of Asian events with the pitiful logic of Western mentality. What is the source of the error? No one will deny that the conflict has revealed that China must not be viewed as a unified state, either internally or externally. This had to be taken into account in all future international negotiations.
China doesn't even have a unified currency, so one must face trouble after trouble when traveling in China. There is a common language “Kwanhoa”;  but this “official” language is understood by at most one million of the four hundred million inhabitants. The provincial dialects are also different. There is a general lack of a unified feeling and a unified national consciousness; the population of the canton province in 1894/95 for example, didn’t even know that China was at war with Japan. The examples of this inner conflict could be multiplied at will, but it is unnecessary, since numerous pro-China descriptions, yes, even declarations from the Chinese side themselves tend to give this away.
One speaks of the Japanese Empire and the Chinese Republic. If one wanted to deduce from this that Japan was imperialist and China was republican, one would make a huge mistake. The current Chinese central government is purely a general dictatorship that takes no account of the interests of the entire population; this is evident even from the indictment of the Chinese delegate in Geneva, Dr. Yen, in which he confirmed that 20,000 Japanese soldiers conquered all of Manchuria, including a population of 40 million Chinese, in a few months. How something like this should be possible if this population were anti-Japanese, or if they had even the slightest feeling of gratitude towards the Chinese ruler there or the Chinese central government, is absolutely incomprehensible.
As far as Japanese “imperialism” is concerned, Count Sforza rightly emphasizes that no people have understood the economic futility of wars—even in victory—as well as the Japanese, and that the Japanese wanted to have peace and friendly development of their relations with China. But he is wrong in that he attributes this deep democratic trend in Japan to a “transformation” and speaks of the steadfast devotion to the mikado  and bushido as if these ideas ran counter to the idea of democracy; even the modern Japanese state had no meaning and no possibility of existence without the intimate relationship between the dynasty and the population. The modern Japanese state is essentially the same state as when the empire was founded three thousand years ago, and the spirit from which it was born and by which it lives is that of genuine and true democracy, which is found in bushido and in the deepest communion between the dynasty and the population. 
I also cannot agree with Count Sforza's conviction that the Japanese people were, if not during the present conflict, at least in the war of 1904,  aggressive and enthusiastic about war. The population of Japan is far too reserved, too peaceful and too understanding to be able to be incited against innocent foreign populations with agitation. During the sending of troops, including those to Tsingtao  in 1914 and to Siberia in 1918, in accordance with the conventions of the allied powers, not the slightest trace of hatred towards the nationals of the enemy states could be detected, and it may well be known how friendly the Japanese were towards prisoners.
But what has happened now to inspire the peaceful people of the dreamy cherry blossoms that they throw their own fate into the fire for honor and existence?
Count Sforza's assertion regarding the statistics of immigration to Manchuria over the last twenty years is correct in so far as the number of Japanese has increased by less than 200,000, while that of the Chinese has increased by millions, clear evidence of impeccable Japanese administration. The failure of Japanese immigration now has a special reason. It is true that Manchuria is so primitive that it presents considerable difficulties to the civilized Japanese, but a period of twenty years is not too short for the Japanese to raise Manchuria to a highly civilized country, to the benefit not only of the Chinese and Japanese, but also to the benefit of all other civilized nations, provided that the Japanese had been able to exercise the rights accorded them by treaty with the Chinese government. However, the Chinese government has systematically violated these treaties, it has undermined and annihilated every cultural activity, it has robbed the innocent Chinese of all their belongings, it has threatened those who wish to do business with Japan with the death penalty. Notwithstanding all the long-suffering with which Japanese diplomacy tried to obtain observance of the concluded treaties by negotiation, secret intrigues continued defiantly and intensified; vigorous propaganda was even launched in the Chinese elementary schools to educate the harmless schoolchildren to be anti-Japanese, and parallel to this new propaganda direct acts of violence against the Japanese were perpetrated everywhere in Manchuria and throughout China. The firm and clear line of the policy of reconciliation that Japan has adhered to for more than ten years, which has unswervingly pursued the goal of maintaining friendship with the Chinese government and amicably resolving any differences, no matter how long the road, is with met with constant resentment and with constant insults to Japan. How is it possible to carry out peaceful construction work in the service of civilization if communication with the inhabitants of the contractually guaranteed area is indirectly prevented and no security whatsoever is guaranteed for the future? Since there is not yet a supranational executive power, a state has only one means left to save its nationals from danger, namely to defend itself against violence, even with violence, in the exercise of a sacred and internationally recognized right of sovereign states, the right of self-defense.
If the scheming Nanking government is to be hit; it should be forced to keep contracts, it should be prevented from committing breaches of contract. In no way is Japan's defense directed against the Chinese population, who are rather happy when Japanese troops invade, because they are protected from the plundering of the soldiers and the robbery of the bandits without having to give any contribution or compulsory tax. So both the assumptions and the results are incorrect when Count Sforza writes that imperialist Japan is about to shoot its customers dead.
After realizing that efforts with the Chinese government are futile, Japan tries the new way: directly with the Chinese people, a free and hardworking, peace-loving people of four hundred million; attempting to achieve friendly, neighborly relations in common work towards the ideal of the peaceful advancement of civilization, the goal to which Count Sforza in good faith urges Japan.
So much for Manchuria. In Shanghai things are different. Japanese state policy and the policy of the Japanese people under the leadership of their genrōs  cannot be compared with the policy of Chinese governments; Japan knows what interests the great powers have in Shanghai, and Japan respects and honors them. But here, too, the urgent need for self-defense required intervention regardless of all misgivings, not only because of the persecution of Japanese nationals there, but also because of secret Bolshevik propaganda and communist action being carried out there, which is aimed directly at the Japanese state and its secret headquarters, apparently in Shanghai. The assassin who threw a bomb against the Emperor on January 8, 1932  had his thoughts poured into Shanghai, and the Chinese troops, especially the lower officer circles in Shanghai, are strongly Bolshevik. Actions by Japan in this direction not only defends the country itself, but also the cultural assets of all mankind.
It is very unfortunate that these circumstances are so little known and that unscrupulous Chinese propaganda with fantastic claims has often found its way into the European press and has created completely wrong ideas. As things stand, intervention by third parties can have no other result than creating intolerable complications, and it seems as if the League of Nations is once again adopting this view.
It is not to be feared that the interests of the Chinese population and the members of the civilized powers will in the future be less favorable than hitherto as a result of the independence of Manchuria and the actions of the Japanese in Shanghai; on the contrary, Japan hopes that with her struggle she will make a sacrifice for the development of civilization and for the freedom of peace for all civilized mankind.
This translation was included in Volume I of The Dissident Review, available in paperback on Amazon.
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