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ASCJ Executive Committee

Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181

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Summer 2000 ASCJ Conference Details

9.  From Siberian Expedition to Manchurian Crisis:  Political and Economic Interactions between Russia, Japan, and China.  

Chair: Yasutomi Ayumu, University of Tokyo


      Geologists trace the shock wave of an earthquake in order to make a geological surveys of the earth's internal structure.  We believe that historians can do the same thing. Thus in this panel we want to use the Siberian Expedition and Manchurian Crisis as test cases for this method. By exploring the impact of these crises, we attempt to create a historical survey of the political and economic structure in East Asia in the 1920s and 1930s.

    Tanaka will discuss the reasons for the withdrawal of the Japanese army from Siberia in relationship with the overall political situation in Manchuria. Yasutomi will relate the impact of the Siberian Expedition forces and their final withdrawal to the emergence and collapse of a bubble economy in Manchuria's Japanese economic sector. The negative impact of this bubble economy later became part of the conditions leading to the Manchurian Incident. Koll will analyse the impact of the Manchurian Crisis on the textile industry in the northern Jiangsu province. Since Manchuria was the most important domestic market for these local Chinese mills selling cotton cloth and yarn, the changing economic conditions in Manchuria caused a severe crisis for the mills and the local textile industry as a whole.

    Tracing the chain of cause and effect, we shall attempt to demonstrate the structural interactions between Siberia, Manchuria, and the northern Jiangsu region as economic and political entities. The papers are not intended as detailed studies of the Siberian Expedition or Manchurian crisis per se, but rather attempt to relate the crises to significant developments in the political and economic history of East Asia in the early 20th century.

 Paper 1.  Tanaka Reiko, University of Cambridge.  "The Japanese Intervention in Siberia and  the 'Manmo  Mondai (Manchurian-Mongolian Problem)'"

      In 1918, when Japan joined the Allied intervention in Siberia, the purpose was to protect the "line of interest"in Manchuria – opposed to the "line of sovereignty" which was then Japan and Korea – from the threat of Bolshevism.  In other words, the Siberian expedition was a vital part of a continental policy of the Japanese empire, its actions being gravely conditioned by the situation in Manchuria.    A prime example of this would be the invasion of Canton in northeast Manchuria in October 1920, to exterminate the anti- Japanese Korean movement.  Japanese troops from the Transbaikal and Amur regions in Siberia played an active part in this operation.  Yamagata Aritomo, in December 1920, when consulted by Army Minister Tanaka about the withdrawal from Vladivostok, had replied that retreat was impossible at this stage while the Canton operation was underway.    This paper will discuss the Japanese in Siberia in the context of northeast Asian regional history, making reference to Japanese sources.   

 Paper 2.  Yasutomi Ayumu, Nagoya University. "The Siberian Expedition and the Manchurian Bubble Economy."

      The Siberian expedition organized by the Japanese Army had a strong political and economic impact on Manchuria. Trust in the Russian Rouble which circulated in the Chinese Eastern Railway Zone, was totally lost because of the Russian revolution and the Siberian expedition. This currency vacuum was filled by bank notes issued by the Bank of Chosen (BOC), a Japanese governmental colonial bank. This bank and other Japanese private banks issued huge loans to Japanese merchants which caused an economic bubble in northern Manchuria and Far Eastern Siberia.

   However, this bubble economy collapsed due to the withdrawal of the Japanese army from Siberia which began in June 1920. As a result, almost all Japanese banks in Manchuria faced huge amounts of bad assets, in particular the BOC when the Chinese stopped accepting their bank notes outside the Manchurian Railway Zone. Another Chinese bank note called the Harbin Ta Yang P`iao replaced the BOC's bank note in North Manchuria.    The Japanese in Manchuria suffered heavily due to the collapse of the bubble economy, their power continuously declining during the 1920's. At the same time the economic power of the Chinese expanded drastically, following the increasing economic prosperity in mainland China. As a result, the Japanese merchants felt economically and politically cornered and thus supported increasingly the ultra-rightist movement which became a major factor in the events leading to the Manchurian incident.

  Paper 3.  Elisabeth Koll, Case Western Reserve University.  "The Manchurian Market and its Impact on the Textile Industry in Northern Jiangsu."

        In the late 19th century, cotton cloth produced in handicraft in northern Jiangsu province found a new marketing area in distant Manchuria when Yingkou was opened as a Treaty Port in 1858. Merchants from Manchuria bought the local Nantong cloth (tubu) through Shanghai brokers and used the commercial opportunity to sell their own goods in Shanghai. This trade relationship continued in a slightly different form after the introduction of large-scale industrial cotton mills to northern Jiangsu. From the early 20th century on, cotton yarn produced by the various Da Sheng mills was absorbed by the Manchurian market in great quantities. However, the flooding of the Manchurian market with Japanese yarn and cloth around 1928 led to a dramatic decline in the sale of imports from northern Jiangsu.  This development, exacerbated by other negative economic factors, created a severe crisis for the local Chinese textile industry in the Nantong area.

     This paper will explore the changing structure of the textile market in Manchuria and its impact on the supplying cotton mills in northern Jiangsu in the 1920s and 1930s. Apart from addressing the issue of interrelation between regional and foreign markets in China, my analysis of the Da Sheng mills will examine how Chinese textile enterprises responded to market changes due to massive Japanese competition. In particular, this paper will explain how the textile mills in northern Jiangsu tried to open up new markets and reach new consumers by resorting to new products, new marketing and financial strategies.

Discussant: Kubo Toru, Shinshu University