Asian Studies Conference Japan

Saturday, June 19 - Sunday 20, 2004
Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University

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 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

Session 4: Room 307

Japan and the Liberal World Order: Finance, Power, and Ideology from the 1890s to the 1940s

Organizer: Mark Metzler, Oakland University and University of Tokyo
Chair: Katalin Ferber, International College of Waseda University

Japan's articulation with the classical liberal world order was problematic from beginning to end. This was true of the point that Japan entered that system in the late 1890s and adhered to the international gold standard, one of the great emblems and institutional bases of the liberal order. It was unmistakable in Japan's war against the liberal system a half-century later. Understanding the liberal order concretely as a British-, later American-, centered system of ideas and power relations, we see Japan as having been in the liberal order but not of it, as instrumentalizing liberalism for national purposes, as being subject to liberalism as a system of financial dominion, and as rebelling against the liberal order in all of its manifestations. We examine this set of problems by looking at the place of Japan in the international monetary system and in the international relations of credit and debt, and at ideological reflections and redefinitions of Japan's international place.

1) Steven Bryan, Columbia University and University of Tokyo
Gold and Iron: Japan and the Not So Liberal Gold Standard

In the 1890s Japan joined a flood of other non-European nations in adopting the gold standard. Viewed today as the epitome of a globalized world economy, gold for Japan--and other nations--represented as much a turn to nationalism as it did a turn to internationalism. As a form of industrial policy to spur exports, promote industry and consolidate empire, gold in the 1890s was a means to compete with Europe and the U.S. as much as it was a means to join the Euro/U.S. world order. Whereas bimetallism represented a cooperative, international world order, gold for many was a way to preserve trade and industrial advantages. Far from being the epitome of an emergent international liberalism, gold was a bulwark against exactly such a world order.

2) Simon James Bytheway, Nihon University
"Japanese Capital Loans and 'Yen Diplomacy': 1916-18"

The government of Terauchi Masatake authorised a series of large capital loans to Britain, France, Russia and China during the latter half of World War I. Very little is known about these loans and the diplomacy that surrounds them, leading to misinformation and myth inside and especially outside of Japan. Indeed, very little is known of Japan's experience as a creditor nation in the World War I period. What were Japan's aims in attempting to become a major creditor nation? How were Britain, France, Russia and China able to attract and utilize Japanese capital? What were the effects of this massive lending upon Japan' s own economic and financial development? My research addresses these questions and attempts to shed light on an important area of Japanese economic history.

3) Mark Metzler, Oakland University and University of Tokyo
"Taisho and Weimar: Parallel Lines?"

In 1919, the international positions of booming, victorious Japan and hungry, defeated Germany could hardly have seemed more different. By the mid-1930s, their positions came to seem quite similar. Understanding this likeness inevitably requires a consideration of global structural factors. This paper addresses the parallel experiences of the failure of liberalism and "rebellion" against the west in these distant Axis partners by reference to the international financial positions of both countries, particularly in respect to the United States. By placing the problem of international financial relations where it belongs--at the center of the history of the era--new elements of unity are revealed in these widely separated movements.

4) Tadashi Anno, Sophia University, Faculty of Comparative Culture
"Ethnonationalism, Regionalism, and Frustrated Expansionism: The Ideological Dimensions of Japan's Challenge to the Liberal World Order"

Two factors have complicated the analysis of the ideological dimensions of Japan's challenge to the liberal world order in the 1930s and early '40s: first, the opportunistic character of Japanese foreign policy; second, the ambiguity of the ideologies themselves. This paper argues that part of the confusion derives from the actual ambiguities of Japan's position in the liberal world order. Focusing on Japan's ambiguous position allows us to identify and to disentangle distinct components of Japanese ideology, which persist and reappear in different forms despite opportunistic changes in policies. Disentangling these components also opens the way for more fruitful comparisons with other Axis powers.

Discussant: Katalin Ferber, International College of Waseda University


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