Thursday, 14 April 2011

THE TIGER IS ROUSED: PRE-WAR IMPERIAL JAPAN


The Russo-Japanese War was one of the first flash points of the 20th Century is generally forgotten among the later conflicts of the time period. Rival designs by two of the Imperial powers of the day set the scenes for wars to come, with the usage of trenches, machine guns, coastal bombardment and heavy artillery as well as the integration of naval and land based fighting forces. Sadly, despite many of the Western powers sending observers to watch this new form of warfare unfolding, few lessons were learned and thousands of men were to fall victim to the same mistakes in the Great War.
Above: The Japanese behead a suspected spy in one of their trademark shows of brutality.
Below: The Russians follow suit. The occupational hazards of spying could be severe.

The systematic defeat of Russia was costly but set the scene for further Imperial ambitions to be realised. As the Japanese sphere of influence increased in the decades to come, so did the atrocities that followed in their wake. Increasingly expansionist aims saw them consolidate their positions in Korea, Siberia, Manchuria and later on the rest of China. The most striking and brutal actions of this later campaign was the Nanking Massacre, more commonly known as the Rape of Nanking.

Nanking was the culmination of a policy of racial segregation, dehumanisation and widespread terror as a way of breaking Chinese resistance. It proved to be the precursor to many similar atrocities throughout World War II, not only in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere but also among captured soldiers and civilians in the many Pacific islands they occupied throughout the conflict.