For long, Japan was under the emperor system and it tried to shifted into democratic politics. But during 1930s, it was the beginning of militarism as the militarist took power of the state, there were several factors causing it. To a certain extent, I agree to the statement that’ the rise of militarism was caused by internal factor. Firstly, internally, in political aspect, the long military tradition was one of the reason of the rise of Japanese militarism.
Before Emperor Meiji regained the political power in 1868, Japan had been ruled by Towugawa Shogunate, for several centuries, the shogun have imposed military rule. Moreover, under Meiji Constitution, the military still enjoyed superior status. They had direct access to the emperor and were not controlled by the parliament (Diet). The education reforms emphasis on the thoughts of obedience and loyalty. Thus, it helped the rise of militarism and long military tradition was a internal factor causing it.
Secondly, internally, in political aspect, the weakness of the democratic government was one of the factor cause the rise of militarism in Japan. From 1918 to 1932, the Taisho era, Japan entered a short period of party politics as the military that time was not strong enough. However, the parties in power failed to seize chance to make the democratic government strong, one reason for this was the serious corruption and bribery. Another reason, many citizens the democratic government was biased in favor of the rich as political parties colluded with the Zaibatsu because it financially influence them.
Furthermore, a crucial problem was the Great Depression in 1929, and Japan blamed the political parties of the inability to solve the problem. All of these lead to frequent replacement of the government as Japan had no trust in supremacy democracy anymore. Therefore, the weakness of democratic government was a internal factor which led to the rise of militarism. Thirdly, internally, in economical aspect, the Zaibatsu gains over the control of the economy was one factor in the rise of militarism. The Zaibatsu bought heavy industries during the Meiji era for a low price.
In 1920s, some small and medium sized banks went bankrupt because of financial problem and it led to the concentration of wealth in several large banks which were controlled by the Zaibatsu. In order to protect their interest, the Zaibatsu joined with the military leaders and became powerful supports, thus this caused the rise of militarism in Japan. Lastly, internally, in social and cultural aspect, the rise of extreme nationalism was one of the factor in the rise of militarism. Since the Meiji era, Japan had emphasized the extreme nationalism which honored the supremacy of the nation and the Japanese race.
For example, in schools, this idea is strongly taught to children, as the government controlled the national education system and the context of the textbooks, it cultivated the virtues of patriotism and loyalty to the emperor. This idea became stringer in 1920s, when they were discriminated by the west, they missed the time when they won wars, it made them more determine to have military expansion. For example, some extreme nationalists promoted militarism, such as the Kita Ikki, as he wrote ‘An outline plan for the reconstruction of Japan’ and Tanaka Giichi, he submitted the Tanaka Memorial, these plan promote foreign expansion.
Thus, due to the extreme nationalism, it was one factor internally that led to the rise of militarism. Although there were the rise of militarism due to internal factors, there were also externally factors causing the rise of militarism. Firstly, externally, in political aspect, the impact of totalitarianism was one of the factor that led to the rise of militarism. The Great Depression of 1929 caused great damage to the whole world, and many people became unemployed. The western powers had severe economic difficulties. Even Japan suffered from the Great Depression, this worried Japan as they copied the West.
It began to lose confidence in Western political ideas of democracy. But, on the other hand, Italy and Germany practiced totalitarianism, and they were more successful in solving their economic problems, and in growing their national strength. Therefore, Japan lose confidence in democracy as many nations were not successful as the dictatorship in Germany and Italy, therefore the impact of totalitarianism in Europe led to the rise of Japanese militarist. Secondly, externally, in diplomatic aspect, due to the Western discrimination was one of the factor that led to the rise of militarism.
There were many events where Japanese militarist had anti- Western feeling because of the Western discrimination towards Japan. For example, The western power refused to include a clause of “racial equality” in the League of Nation. Another example, in Washington Conference in 1921-1922, Japan was forced to return Shandong to China as they got at in WW1, moreover, the navy of Japan was limited. Furthermore, in London Naval conference in 1930, Japan again failed to increase the ratio of navy to those of US and Britain.
They also believed that the peaceful economic expansion policy would show Japan weak. Therefore, in order to make Japan strong and rich and to gain respect of the West, they had to overthrow the democratic government and start the militarism. Lastly, in externally, in economically aspect, one of the factor that led to the rise of militarism. The US suffered from Great Depression in 1929. In order to protect their own economy, they posed heavy customs duties on Japan commodities which increased Japan’s difficulties.
For example, by 1931, Japan’s export were fallen by 50%. This led to a decrease in wages, and the number of people unemployed reached to 3 million. So, Japanese militarist thought only wars can be a solution of economic problems as it expand the military industry. Thus this led to the rise of militarist caused by an external factor of Great Depression. In conclusion, both internal factors and external factors caused the rise of Japanese militarism. To a certain extent, I believe the rise of Japanese militarism was caused by internal factor.