Public Perceptions of the Vietnam War

This essay achieved a low 1st in the third year of my undergraduate.

Public Perception of War

As has been shown in prior conflicts of this nature, retention of public goodwill is a crucial factor in determining the ability of the government to conduct a war effectively. Perhaps the most obvious example was the Vietnam War; once public support for the conflict had largely evaporated, the administration was forced to withdraw, without having gained the victory their predecessors had claimed would be theirs with ease. More recently, a ‘national memory’ of the events in Vietnam has been made evident by the progression of the respective conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, with public opinion ebbing very quickly in both, as they reverted to campaigns of counter-insurgency. The association of a war of this type with the memory of the failures and atrocities of Vietnam will make it very difficult to retain the support of the public if the coming conflict is allowed to publicly degenerate as much as in the past.

Some of the realities of war have, in the past, been bypassed or ignored, perhaps most notably by Johnson in his State of the Union address in 1965.[1] In an age where the ability to share information is more abundant than ever, such a policy would be unwise to say the least. The realities of war will never be pleasant, but the fact remains that death and destruction are an inevitable part of war – the outrage is normally evident when it is without restraint, as portrayed perhaps most obviously in Coppola’s 1979 film, Apocalypse Now. The now-famous scene in which an air assault is conducted to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” is perhaps the bluntest example of such lack of restraint, especially at its culmination with the B-52 air strike, and conveys the accompanying lack of regard for human life, and the environment which have come to be synonymous with the conflict in Vietnam.[2] Both Apocalypse Now, and the later Platoon are widely recognised as being at the more critical end of the spectrum, attributing atrocities both to the Vietnamese and the Americans, while earlier representations such as The Green Berets lays the blame largely at the feet of the Vietnamese.

This report will therefore examine the way in which the realities of war have been conveyed in the films Apocalypse Now and Platoon, as well as questioning whether the films are actually anti-war, or merely realistic, an argument made by Tomasulo.[3] One must make the distinction between the brutality of an already brutal conflict, and actual atrocities committed by both sides, perhaps the most well-publicised of which was the My Lai Massacre of 1968.[4] It will be argued that the realities of war are less abhorrent to the public than the lack of alignment between the conduct of the American military and traditional values, which are perhaps displayed in both Apocalypse Now and Platoon. The image put forward in many portrayals of the Vietnam War is of American soldiers being apparently unfazed by the prospect of killing Vietnamese non-combatants. When one combines this with some of the scandals surrounding the treatment of prisoners, particularly in Guantanamo Bay in more recent years, there has been a definite increase in scrutiny of the actions of the American military, with more emphasis being placed on the regard for human rights. As such, it will be argued that the realities of war cannot be shied away from, nor should they be. The attempted concealment of such realities in the Vietnam War made the outrage so much more profound when they were discovered, particularly after 1968, and the massacre at My Lai.[5]

While Apocalypse Now as a film is more indicative of the war as a whole, with its somewhat more epic scope, Platoon may perhaps be considered more useful in illustrating the motivations and cares of the soldiers on the ground in Vietnam, directed as it was by Oliver Stone, a veteran of the Vietnam War.[6] Both films have been described, albeit by their directors, as accurately portraying the realities of Vietnam, and as such, there are lessons to be learnt from both. The realities of the Vietnam War are displayed, but throughout the films there are obvious emphases which, one could argue narrow the scope. Both films have a strong focus on the psychological damage caused to the soldiers who fought in the war, with the main antagonist in Apocalypse Now, Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, being tormented by an affliction referred to as ‘the horror’. Much of Platoon also aims to tell the story of the common soldier, how they dealt with the terrors of the War, and how it affected them psychologically. Unsurprisingly perhaps, both films tried to include scenes which represented the more infamous aspects of the war, with both including ‘My Lai type scenes’ in which Vietnamese innocents were gunned down by American soldiers.[7] This perhaps overemphasises the actions of a few, and makes it seem as if such incidents were commonplace. What has resulted is what might be criticised as a certain narrowness of scope, but is important to remember the limitations of film as a medium – it will never be able to convey all that one would experience in person. As such, while the brutality of the war has been portrayed in an accurate fashion, certain aspects of combat might have been slightly over-emphasised according to the respective directors’ personal perceptions.

One of the main reasons for the Vietnam War falling out of favour with the American public was the seeming disparity between the way in which the war was conducted, and that which was considered ‘traditional’ American values.[8] The photos of the My Lai massacre shocked the world, but were especially painful for the American public to see, as they went against all the stereotypes about the American military which had developed in the years since the Second World War, if not before. In both films there are flawed heroes, but ultimately, the values which are traditionally ‘American’ show through in the end. In the end therefore, the American public found the films acceptable, because they reflected just enough American values. The shame that they underwent before this point is reached however is extremely poignant, as they are taken through much of the heavy-handedness which is perhaps symbolic of the Vietnam War.[9] Each film, for the sake of realism, portrays aspects of the war less pleasant for the American people to watch, with the scene resulting in the death of a young retarded boy in Platoon, and the murder of the Vietnamese family on the river in Apocalypse Now.[10] Even if it is accepted that these were isolated incidents, the fact remains that they have been given screen-time, forcing viewers to form opinions about them, opinions which will likely be entirely negative. The way they have been slipped into war films which have equally graphic combat scenes would seem to imply that, for the American military, such acts are simply part of the brutality of war, given the matter of fact way they were dealt with by some of the characters in Platoon in particular.

Overall, several problems in the portrayal of the Vietnam War have been highlighted through study of Apocalypse Now and Platoon. The main problem lies in distinguishing to the public the differences between full atrocities and the stark realities of war, and a decision must be taken as to how honest the administration is willing to be about both, as it is perhaps inevitable for the former to take place, however isolated the incident.  The psychological impact of a potentially gruelling conflict must also be considered, and while many have criticised the approaching conflict as having all the hallmarks of another Vietnam, they seem to have failed to account for the enormous cultural and religious differences between the Middle East and South-East Asia, something which can potentially be used to the advantage of the administration.

There are several ways in which these issues can be addressed. The brutal realities of war must not be hidden from the public, but the administration must also make an effort the stress the natural savagery of war against the atrocities of an unrestrained few. In a best-case scenario, the administration will only have to deal with the realities of war, as opposed to the massacres of the kind the administrations through the later part of the Vietnam War were faced with. The unfortunate possibility is, however, that at some point a scandal of the kind embodied by My Lai, Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib will occur, and it is important that the administration distance itself from it, and condemn those responsible. One of the main reasons the American government lost credibility in the process of the Vietnam conflict was that it seemed to have no control over the actions of its own military – and some argued in the immediate aftermath of the war that atrocities of the kind committed at My Lai were actually commonplace; that they were the rule and not the exception. While it is possible that this will alienate the military to a certain extent, the public will gain faith in the administration’s ability to enforce its policies with regards to the upper echelons of the military.

The psychological impact of any war, but particularly a war which degenerates into a counter-insurgency, should not be underestimated, and an effort should be made on the part of the administration to provide support for returning veterans – something which, however cynical it seems, should be as well-publicised as possible. In such a way, the government will have shown concern for the welfare of its individual soldiers rather than simply their value as resources in a war, which will in turn promote public support for the conflict.

To conclude, many issues have been raised in post-Vietnam media, although some overarching themes have clearly emerged. As the first war in which the full extent of the barbarism was captured on camera, it is likely that the images had more of an impact on the public than they should have done. Since then, with the expansion of mass media, many more of the public will be far more aware of uglier side of war, thus making it easier to separate the brutality of war from actual atrocities. What is important is that no attempt is made on the part of the government to hide the savagery of war from the public, or in any way diminish the sacrifice of the soldiers who take part, as was perhaps done towards the end of the Vietnam War. As well as this, with the horrors of modern war, techniques for dealing with mental issues arising from the stresses of combat have developed, meaning that there are now suitable support networks in place, which need only be funded or at least subsidised by the government to allow them to cope with the demands of a larger-scale war. In short, the public face of the war should be handled with far more finesse than Vietnam was, and should remain sensitive to the cares and motivations of the many rather than the few. It is important to realise that the United States is under the most scrutiny when conducting itself abroad as it arguably has ‘the greatest capacity for the projection of its power, and thus the greatest capacity to do good and harm.’[11]

Word Count (including title): 2,005

 

[1] A. Johns, Vietnam’s Second Front: Domestic Politics, the Republican Party, and the War (Lexington, 2010), p.82.

[2] J.M. Devine, Vietnam at 24 Frames a Second: A Critical and Thematic Analysis of Over 400 Films about the Vietnam War (Austin, 1999), p.189.

[3] F.P. Tomasulo, ‘The Politics of Ambivalence: Apocalypse Now as Prowar and Antiwar Film,’ in L. Dittmar and G. Michaud (eds.), From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film (New Brunswick & London, 1990), p.147.

[4] K. Oliver, The My Lai massacre in American history and memory (Manchester & New York, 2006), p.9

[5] Oliver, My Lai, p.282

[6] Devine, Vietnam, pp.245-7.

[7] Devine, Vietnam, pp.190, 248.

[8] Oliver, My Lai, p.282.

[9] Tomasulo, ‘Politics,’ p.149.

[10] Devine, Vietnam, pp.190, 248-9.

[11] Oliver, My Lai, p.282.

Bibliography

Johns, A., Vietnam’s Second Front: Domestic Politics, the Republican Party, and the War (Lexington, 2010)

Devine, J.M., Vietnam at 24 Frames a Second: A Critical and Thematic Analysis of Over 400 Films about the Vietnam War (Austin, 1999)

F.P. Tomasulo, ‘The Politics of Ambivalence: Apocalypse Now as Prowar and Antiwar Film,’ in L. Dittmar and G. Michaud (eds.), From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film (New Brunswick & London, 1990)

K. Oliver, The My Lai massacre in American history and memory (Manchester & New York, 2006)

Feedback:

70%

General comments: At first, I wasn’t sure quite how this  was going to work out. The opening paragraphs seemed, to my mind, to play things a little safe and hewed fairly closely to the example that we discussed in class. But, as it went on, it seemed that this was more to do with the framing than the analysis and argument – both of which became much more interesting by the bottom of p.1. You set the argument up well, and I liked the way that you distinguished between the brutality of war and isolated atrocities; it is an important distinction to make and one that, as you note, would be integral to an administration’s discussions of a future conflict. You also offer a balanced assessment as to how these lessons can be applied to present circumstances in a way that is mature and even-handed.

A couple of criticisms. First, you could have used the films a bit more heavily to illustrate some of the points you were making, and maybe even counterbalanced your assessment of Platoon and Apocalypse Now with an example that depicts the brutality of war without necessarily focusing on atrocities. Second, there were just a few places where the writing got a little untidy.

To what extent was the atomic bomb used as a diplomatic “master card” by American policymakers at the end of the Second World War?

This essay achieved a high 2:1 in the second year of my undergraduate.

To what extent was the atomic bomb used as a diplomatic “master card” by American policymakers at the end of the Second World War?

The decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is one of the many contentious issues of the period leading into the Cold War. The three main schools of thought range from the traditionalist view that they were used for purely military reasons, as the ‘least abhorrent choice,’[1] through revisionism –championed most influentially by Alperovitz[2]– which would state that in fact the bombs were used only for their diplomatic connotations. The various strains of ‘post-revisionism’ led by such as Sigal, Sherwin and Asada[3] would suggest in general that, while the American policymakers certainly realised the diplomatic potential of the new technology, it was not the only consideration. While one must be careful using the term ‘post-revisionism’ in relation to this debate, it is probably the most accurate way to describe the school of thought, despite just how wide-ranging it is. The different schools all have aspects which seem convincing; the contemporary concerns probably were military, although it would have been impossible to ignore diplomatic considerations.

The earliest historiography, of the Traditionalist school, would disagree wholly that the atomic bomb was used with diplomatic considerations in mind. The argument of Traditionalists, many of them contemporaries such as Truman, Karl T. Compton[4]  and Stimson,[5] as well as later Maddox and Hammond is that the decision to drop the atomic bomb was a result of military concerns, and had nothing to do with post-war planning with regards to the Soviets. The main argument set forward by the Traditionalist school is that the bomb removed the need to conduct a land invasion of Japan, thereby simultaneously ending World War Two more swiftly and dramatically reducing the casualty figures.[6]

In his 1947 article, Stimson stated that the dropping of the bombs was in fact the humanitarian option, and that the casualties inflicted by the two bombs –estimated at around half a million- were much lower than the projected casualties of one million US and one and a half million Japanese resulting from an invasion of the mainland, still planned for late 1946.[7] The dropping of the two atomic bombs did undoubtedly save lives, as it is unlikely given the bitterness of the Japanese defence up until August 1945 that an invasion would have led to fewer than half a million deaths total, but it seems unlikely that the projections Stimson cites were completely accurate, a doubt which recurs throughout both revisionist and more recent works.[8] Scope exists to challenge the value of the article as a source of Stimson’s opinions, as he had the benefit of hindsight –of seeing the world’s reaction to the dropping of the bombs- and so may well have just been trying to portray a U.S. government morally superior to the reality. As a magazine article, he was expecting people to read it, and was hoping to persuade the readers of this moral superiority too.

Stimson also gives Japanese intransigence as a reason for the dropping of the bomb, arguing that the combined effect of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was decisive in finally forcing Japanese surrender.[9] Although there is some support for this viewpoint,[10] others including Asada argue that it was influential, but only after the Japanese were already defeated. Asada in particular argues that the value of the bombs was in the shock they caused rather than anything military.[11] This would once again support the idea that military concerns were all that was taken into consideration when the decision was being made.

Both Stimson and Truman argued that the bombs brought about an immediate end to the war by forcing the Japanese to surrender in the face of such devastation. This view however is widely regarded as inaccurate by many, including Feis and Frank,[12] and one must struggle to reconcile the view of the Japanese who surrendered after just two bombs, no matter their destructive power, with the Japanese who continued to fight long after other major cities had been levelled by conventional bombing, thereby seemingly invalidating the argument.

On the other hand, there are many who would argue that the atomic bomb was in fact used as a diplomatic ‘master card;’ indeed that it was used as such before it even became a reality. Sherwin in particular argues that this can be seen in Truman’s policymaking as early as 1943.[13] Widely considered the most influential and well-known proponent of the bomb being dropped for political-diplomatic reasons is for Gar Alperovitz, who has been described as the ‘godfather of revisionism.’[14] The argument that only post-war diplomatic considerations had a bearing on the decision to drop the bomb was initially put forward by others such as Blackett and Williams among others,[15] but Alperovitz’s 1965 work[16] was the first to cite meaningful evidence. The main reason for the dropping of the bomb, it is argued, was to ‘impress the Soviets;’[17]an implied threat to keep their apparent expansionism could be held in check, an idea potentially influenced by Churchill.[18]

Alperovitz agrees with Feis and others that the bomb was not necessary to end the war, although he is somewhat more committed to this view. While Feis states that it was not ‘essential,’[19] Alperovitz argues that it was not necessary at all, and Truman needed only to sit back and wait for the Soviet invasion.[20] Offered as a military alternative by Alperovitz, Messer, and many Japanese historians is the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.[21] The argument is that there was no military need to drop the bombs as the Soviet invasion scheduled to start the same day as the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, would have achieved the same end. It is this unwillingness to allow the alternatives a chance which Alperovitz cites as evidence for his thesis that the bomb was used only to diplomatic ends.[22] The argument for the dropping of the bombs being unnecessary for the end of the war is very convincing, especially when compared with the projected impact of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.

While Alperovitz’s work might appear to be definitive, it has been widely attacked by traditionalists such as Hammond and Maddox, as well as the Marxist revisionist Kolko.[23] Particularly of issue is the use of ellipses when dealing with primary sources, which allegedly alter their meanings. Although there are issues with Alperovitz’s work, it is by no means the ‘travesty of scholarship’ as Maddox describes it.[24]

The  polar viewpoints presented by the traditionalist and revisionist schools, that the bomb was dropped for military reasons, or that only political considerations were taken into account respectively, would serve to answer the question in absolutes, but the issue is far more complex than simple black and white. There is a whole spectrum in between, and much of it is said to fall into the so-called ‘post-revisionist’ school of thought. The ‘school’ is so wide-ranging however, and there are so many contrasting and sometimes conflicting viewpoints that it seems difficult to argue that they are all part of the same school. Some historians nearer to the traditionalist side, such as Sherwin,[25] argue that diplomatic considerations were taken into account, but they were distinctly secondary to the military ones, whereas others, including Gaddis, Yergin and Donovan[26] are more in favour of Alperovitz’s basic concept, even if they do disagree with his ideas.[27]

Gaddis in particular focuses on the meetings between Truman and several of his advisors, specifically that with Stimson and General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project.[28] Going into detail about the items discussed at that meeting, and others, he asserts that there was discussion, however tentative, about the myriad implications resulting from the technology behind atomic bombs, and these inevitably included the influence it would have on international relations. It is interesting to note that Gaddis presents it as ‘international relations’ rather than specifically mentioning the Soviets, by contrast to many other historians, who simply refer to the tensions between the U.S. and the USSR.[29] Gaddis’ argument is similar in principle to Alperovitz’s, therefore arguing that the bomb was used for its impact on diplomacy and world politics. However, he presents it as far more hesitant than the cold, calculating decisions Alperovitz portrays.

On the other hand, it is very easy to state with the benefit of hindsight that there was already a lot of forward planning underway by 1945, and that the dropping of the atomic bombs was a calculated move designed to impress or cow the Soviets. Even if there is an element of truth to this, one must not forget that there was still fighting continuing in the Philippines, and air crews were still being shot down;[30] the U.S. was still taking casualties. It seems likely that there was an air of disquiet at the prospect of invading Japan,[31] and with fighting still continuing unabated in other areas, Truman no doubt felt pressured to act in an attempt to bring the war to a prompt close. Perhaps the most telling representation of this is put forward by Messer, who argues that while the bomb was not a reality, even in the early stages of the Potsdam Conference, Truman wanted the Russians to enter the war as soon as possible, but as soon as he thought he could end it without them, he did his best to delay their involvement.[32] This would seem to imply that his first concern was the conservation of American lives, but when he had a choice of how to go about this, he immediately took the option which diplomatically strengthened America while simultaneously weakening the Soviet Union.

Bernstein argues,[33] perhaps most convincingly, that American policymakers did consider the bomb a diplomatic tool, if not a master card by some. He argues that despite the sentiments in Stimson’s 1947 article, it is revealed when studying his diary at the time that he did consider the bomb a ‘master card,’ even using the term.[34] The views set forward in his diary prior to the dropping of the bombs therefore contrast starkly with those he put forward in his later article. However it would seem to be a more reliable source than the article for determining Stimson’s true thoughts; as it was a private diary he would not have expected other people to have had access to it, and would therefore have felt free to share his inner thoughts.

Many other senior members of the administration are also evidenced as having considered the diplomatic value of the bomb, among them Truman and Byrnes. Bernstein asserts that prior to the Potsdam conference, Truman confided about the bomb that ‘If it explodes, as I think it will, I’ll certainly have a hammer on those boys [the Russians].’[35] He also asserts that Byrnes alongside Stimson had understood the influence on diplomacy the bomb would have when it became a reality.[36] As the Secretaries of State and Defence respectively, it seems justified to consider them ‘policymakers,’ and even if not, they would have had direct and constant access to Truman, giving them opportunities to influence him, intentionally or otherwise.

Although both Byrnes and Stimson considered the bomb a diplomatic instrument, they disagreed over how to use it. It is important to note the differences: while Stimson considered it a ‘master card,’ he thought that an offer for international control could be traded for important concessions,[37] which seems far less antagonistic than Byrnes’ use of it as at least an implied threat.[38] The way Byrnes planned to achieve this was to maintain a monopoly on the technology, which he predicted they would be able to do for at least seven years.[39] Although it is crucial to note the difference, more important is the fact that they both considered it something they could use to extract major concessions from the Soviets; a diplomatic ‘master card.’

The confidence of American foreign policymakers in the last years of the war, combined with the evidence in the various contemporary diaries shows that many of the policymakers did consider the bomb a diplomatic ‘master card.’ Alongside this, it is impossible to ignore the fact that many outside the policymaking process had also considered the diplomatic potential of the technology,[40] and it is just untrue that such considerations were not taken into account by those directly involved in the decision to drop the bomb, as is shown in the diaries.[41] One must add however, that there certainly were military considerations at the same time; the dropping of the bombs probably did speed up the end of the war even if, as many historians agree, it was the Soviet invasion which finally forced the surrender.[42] In the words of Asada, the use of the bomb was ‘unnecessary but confirmatory.’[43] Although it may seem with hindsight that the political factors took primacy, military considerations were just as important.

Word Count (including title): 3,000

 

[1] H. L. Stimson, ‘The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb’, Harper’s Magazine (February 1947), pp.97-107.

[2] G. Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam. The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation with Soviet Power (New York, 1965)

[3] L. Sigal, Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945 (London, 1988), M. J. Sherwin, ‘The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War,’ in eds. M. P. Leffler and D. S. Painter, Origins of the Cold War: An International History, (London 1994) pp.79-90, S. Asada, ‘The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to Surrender:  A Reconsideration’, Pacific Historical Review, 67 (1998), pp.477-512.

[4] B. J. Bernstein, ‘The Atomic Bomb and American Foreign Policy, 1941-5: An Historiographical Controversy,’ Peace and Change, 2 (Spring 1974), p.1.

[5] H. L. Stimson, ‘The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,’ pp.97-107.

[6] J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ Diplomatic History, 14 (Winter 1990), p.98

[7] H. L. Stimson, ‘The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,’ pp.97-107

[8] G. Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy, and R. B. Frank, Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire (New York & London 1999).

[9] H. L. Stimson, ‘The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,’ pp.97-107

[10] R. Butow, Japan’s Decision to Surrender (Stanford, 1959), H. Feis, Japan Subdued: The Atomic Bomb and the End of the War in the Pacific (Princeton, 1961), B. J. Bernstein (ed.), The Atomic Bomb: The Critical Issues (Boston, 1976).

[11] S. Asada, ‘The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to Surrender – A Reconsideration,’ in ed. R. J. Maddox, Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism, (Columbia, 2007) pp.24-58

[12]R. B. Frank, Downfall, H. Feis, Japan Subdued, see also J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ p.98

[13] M. Sherwin, A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance (New York, 1975) p.6

[14] R. J. Maddox, ‘Gar Alperovitz Godfather of Hiroshima Revisionism,’ in ed. R. J. Maddox, Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism (Columbia, 2007) pp.7-23

[15] P. M. S. Blackett, Military and Political Consequences of Atomic Energy (London, 1948), W. A. Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (Cleveland, 1959), also N. Cousins, T. K. Finletter, C. Marzani, D. F. Fleming and H. Feis, see J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ p.98

[16] G. Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy.

[17] J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ pp.98-9

[18] M. Sherwin, A World Destroyed, p.7

[19] J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ p.98

[20] R. J. Maddox, ‘Gar Alperovitz Godfather of Hiroshima Revisionism,’ p.12

[21] S. Asada, ‘The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to Surrender – A Reconsideration,’ p.49

[22] J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ pp.98-9

[23] J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ p.99-100.

[24] R. J. Maddox, ‘Gar Alperovitz Godfather of Hiroshima Revisionism,’ pp.7-12

[25] M. J. Sherwin, A World Destroyed.

[26] D. Yergin, Shattered Peace: The Origins of the Cold War and the National Security State (London, 1978).

[27] J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ pp.101-2.

[28] J. Gaddis et al., Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy Since 1945 (Oxford, 1999), p.16

[29] J. Gaddis et al., Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy Since 1945 (Oxford, 1999), pp.16-7

[30] R. J. Maddox, ‘Gar Alperovitz Godfather of Hiroshima Revisionism,’ p.12

[31] P. Fussell, ‘Hiroshima: A Soldier’s View,’ New Republic 185 (August 1981), pp.26-30.

[32] R. L. Messer, The End of an Alliance: James F. Byrnes, Roosevelt, Truman and the Origins of the Cold War, (Chapel Hill, 1982), B. J. Bernstein, ‘ American Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cold War,’ p.32

[33] B. J. Bernstein, ‘ American Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cold War,’ in ed. B. J. Bernstein, Politics and Policies of the Truman Administration (Chicago, 1972) pp.15-77

[34] Diary of Henry Stimson, April 24, 25, May 10, 14, 15, 16, 1945.

[35] Diary entry of July 23, A. Bryant, Triumph in the West, 1943-1946 (based on the diaries and autobiographical notes of Field Marshal the Viscount Alanbrooke), p.364 (London, 1959), B. J. Bernstein, ‘ American Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cold War,’ p.32

[36] See Diary of Leahy, May 20, 1945; R. Hewlett and O. Anderson Jr., A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission Volume 1: The New World, (University Park, Pennsylvania, 1962) pp.354-7.

[37] B. J. Bernstein, ‘American Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cold War,’ p.35

[38] Diary of Henry Stimson, August 12, September 3, 4, 5, 1945.

[39] R. Hewlett and O. Anderson Jr., The New World, p.417, pp.456-61.

[40] M. J. Sherwin, A World Destroyed, see J. S. Walker, ‘The Decision to use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ pp.100-1.

[41] Diary of Henry Stimson, April 24, 25, May 10, 14, 15, 16, 1945, Diary of William Leahy, May 20, 1945; R. Hewlett and O. Anderson Jr., The New World, pp.354-7.

[42] G. Alperovitz, R. L. Messer and Japanese historians, see S. Asada, ‘The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to surrender – A Reconsideration,’ p.49

[43] S. Asada, ‘The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to Surrender – A Reconsideration,’ p.46

Bibliography

Primary Sources

Diary of Henry Stimson

Diary of William Leahy

Stimson, H. L., ‘The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,’ Harper’s Magazine (February 1947), pp.97-107

Secondary Sources

Alperovitz, G., Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam. The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation of Soviet Power (New York, 1985)

Asada, S., ‘The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to Surrender – A Reconsideration,’ in R. J. Maddox (ed.), Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism (Columbia, 2007), pp.24-58

Asada, S., ‘The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to Surrender: A Reconsideration,’ Pacific Historical Review, 67(1998), pp.477-512

Bernstein, B. J., ‘American Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cold War,’ in B. J. Bernstein (ed.), Politics and Policies of the Truman Administration (Chicago, 1972), pp.15-77

Bernstein, B. J., ‘The Atomic Bomb and American Foreign Policy, 1941-5: An Historiographical Controversy,’ Peace and Change, 2 (1974), pp.1-16

Bernstein, B. J. (ed.), The Atomic Bomb: The Critical Issues (Boston, 1976)

Blackett, P. M. S., Military and Political Consequences of Atomic Energy (London, 1948)

Bryant, A., Triumph in the West 943-1946 (based on the diaries and autobiographical notes of Field Marshal the Viscount Alanbrooke (London, 1959)

Butow, R., Japan’s Decision to Surrender (Standford, 1959)

Gaddis, J., Gordon, P., May, E., and Rosenberg, J., Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy Since 1945 (Oxford, 1999)

Feis, H., Japan Subdued: The Atomic Bomb and the End of the War in the Pacific (Princeton, 1961)

Frank, R. B., Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire (New York & London, 1999)

Fussell, P., ‘Hiroshima: A Soldier’s View,’ New Republic, 185 (1981), pp.26-30

Hewlett, R., and Anderson Jr., O., A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission Volume 1: The New World (University Park, Pennsylvania, 1962)

Maddox, R. J., ‘Gar Alperovitz Godfather of Hiroshima Revisionism,’ in R. J. Maddox (ed.) Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism (Columbia, 2007) pp.7-23

Messer, R. L., The End of an Alliance: James F. Byrnes, Roosevelt, Truman and the Origins of the Cold War (Chapel Hill, 1982)

Sherwin, M. J., A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance (New York, 1975)

Sherwin, M. J., ‘The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War,’ in M. P. Leffler and D. S. Painter (eds.), Origins of the Cold War: An International History, (London, 1994), pp.79-90

Sigal, L., Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945 (London, 1988)

Walker, J. S., ‘The Decision the use The Bomb: An Historiographical Update,’ Diplomatic History, 14 (1990), pp.97-114

Williams, W. A., The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (Cleveland, 1959).

Yergin, D., Shattered Peace: The Origins of the Cold War and the National Security State (London, 1978)

Feedback:

68%

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

Breadth of Reading: Excellent-Good

Critical approach to historiography: Good

Focus on question: Good

Organization of the material: Good

Depth of understanding and insight: Good-Competent

Use of examples: Good

Introduction and Conclusion: Good-Competent

Factual accuracy: Good

Comprehensiveness of coverage: Good

Fluent and correct English: Good

Accurate spelling/proof reading: Good

Sources cited correctly: Good

General Comments and Advice: Your essay displays a wide breadth of reading and a good understanding of the various historiographical perspectives and schools of thought. You show an appreciation of the differences between sources that have been attributted to each school (particularly with regards to post-revisionism) and the problematic nature of these categories. You also utilise and analyse primary sources well in support of your arguments and in addressing the various ways in which US officials and policymakers viewed the atomic bomb as having the potential to act as a diplomatic ‘master card’. You show some good critical engagement with secondary sources and generally provide a well-balanced analysis that examines a comprehensive range of viewpoints.

Your introduction, although highlighting your understanding of the different historiographical schools of thought, would benefit from further ‘signposting’ of the structure of your own analysis and an outline of your key arguments which you can refer back to in your conclusion. This helps you to demonstrate a consistent argument throughout your essay.

Although your references are generally correctly cited, some small errors with regard to formatting have been highlighted ; ensure that you include full references for your bibliography, including primary sources such as diary entries the way you would for other texts.

 

Book Review: ‘Promise of Blood’, by Brian McClellan

51-GsXzAkvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Let me preface this review by admitting that I am an inexperienced flintlock fantasy reader. I know that it is a new-ish subgenre, but from what I can tell, it’s growth has been explosive (pardon the pun). My first foray into the subgenre was with Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names, which I enjoyed massively. This unfortunately meant that a precedent was set. Because of Wexler’s fantastic effort, I have been spoiled and now expect all flintlock fantasy to measure up to his standard.

With Promise of Blood I was not disappointed.

I absolutely loved McClellan’s style, finishing the book in two days if that. The emphases of Promise of Blood were very different, with far more focus on magic and religion throughout, than the much more colonial and military themes of The Thousand Names. On this point, it is rare nowadays to find a fresh approach to magic. Brandon Sanderson famously achieved it in the Mistborn Trilogy with Allomancy etc, and McClellan I feel has equaled his achievement with the use of Powder Mages. The idea is so beautifully simple and original all at the same time. Along with innovative magic, there was a lot of politics and intrigue, though interspersed with a good amount of very well-written action.

The characters all had a staggering amount of depth, but the various backstories, as well as the fantastically-drawn world were revealed gradually, with no large exposition dumps. The subplots worked well, following and feeding into the main story enough that I never felt too far removed from central events. The whole book culminated in some very satisfying and suitably epic showdowns. It is rare for the first book of a trilogy to wrap things up quite so well as this, and having read many that don’t, I absolutely loved it.

‘Promise of Blood’, by Brian McClellan is the first in The Powder Mage Trilogy.

To what extent did Western observers approve of early Meiji diplomatic and military overtures to China (Taiwan) and Korea?

This essay achieved a low 1st in the third year of my undergraduate.

To what extent did Western observers approve of early Meiji diplomatic and military overtures to China (Taiwan) and Korea?

The Meiji Restoration of 1868 ushered in a new era of Japanese history, which many historians have recognised as the roots of its twentieth-century imperialist tendencies. The first significant ventures overseas made by the new Meiji government occurred in 1874 and 1876 to Taiwan and Korea respectively. Both were tentative demonstrations of the new Japanese state’s attempts to raise itself to the status of ‘Great Power’, and both met with mixed results, though the opening of Korea was perhaps the more significant in a wider context. Unfortunately, due to the later Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars, limited attention has been paid by modern scholars to particularly the Taiwanese expedition, let alone the Western reactions to such.[1] However, from the literature that does exist, it is clear that the diplomacy of the period was somewhat complex, with the attitudes of the Western powers varying from month to month throughout, ranging from outright disapproval, all the way through to full support. In between these poles, there is a third interpretation; one which may be gleaned from conjecture over the implications of Japanese actions.

The strongest Western disapproval accompanied the 1874 expedition to Taiwan, also referred to as Formosa. International concerns were largely made clear immediately prior to the inception of the expedition, and nonetheless failed to prevent it from taking place.[2] The reasons for such a change of attitude have been debated by many, including Gordon and Mizuno, with opinion ranging from the fact that it was merely a desire to avoid a Sino-Japanese war and the accompanying disruption of trade, ranging through to the mere avoidance of the participation of Westerners in the expedition. Gordon in particular argues that it was the possibility of a Sino-Japanese war which fuelled Western disapproval of the venture. Rather than the concern being over the destruction such a war might have caused, Gordon emphasises that the Americans in particular were more concerned with the disruption of trade and the complexities of diplomacy which might arise.[3]

The likes of Mizuno and Thomson agree however that the Americans only disapproved of the venture because of the use of an American ship, the New York, and American personnel, most notably General Charles LeGendre. Criticism from the U.S. came chiefly from Frederick Low, the Minister in Peking, who expressed doubts from the beginning; as soon as the expedition was proposed.[4] The more forceful disapproval however, which was articulated by the U.S. administration in 1874 was focused through John Bingham, the Minister in Tokyo from 1873.[5] The possibility of war in South-East Asia was a very real threat in the eyes of the U.S. administration, and something they were keen to avoid.

The Americans were not the only Westerners to object to the expedition however, as both Thomas Wade, the British minister in Peking, and Sir Harry Parkes his equivalent in Tokyo, both expressed doubts over the legitimacy of the venture, and questioned the use of British resources.[6] The British disapproval was largely for the same reasons as the U.S., with the possibility of a Sino-Japanese war threatening to upset their imperial interests in the region. Being the most powerful nation at the time, Britain applied pressure to many of the other Western nations, such as Russia and Spain to force them into alignment in their disapproval of the actions of the Meiji government.[7] Immediately preceding the expedition then, it would seem that Western disapproval for the venture to Taiwan was strong, largely for fear of provoking China, and the possible inception of a Sino-Japanese war.[8]

Disapproval for the extraction of the Treaty of Kanghwa was slightly more abstract than that for the Taiwan expedition. Objections arose from the foreign ministers in Tokyo, with British concerns being raised by Sir Harry Parkes. His argument stemmed arguably from the contemporary fashion for upholding regional ‘status quos’, as he revealed deep political concerns which might, in his opinions have provoked a Sino-Japanese war in the longer term.[9] According to Thomas, he also disapproved of the Japanese supremacy over Korea which was made clear by the unreciprocated nature of the treaty, feeling that it was up to the Western powers to decide the balance of regional power. Similarly to the instance of Taiwan, Britain was able to put international pressure on others of the Western powers by virtue of her position in the world order, and was able to force Russian disapproval as well.[10]

American disapproval was once again personified by John Bingham, whose negative attitude involved a declaration that the U.S. would declare strict neutrality in the event of the Sino-Japanese war which he felt was inevitably imminent.[11] While his vehemence would seem to be a repeat of the opposition he displayed in the Taiwan incident two years prior, it has however been argued by Conroy that Bingham not only approved, but encouraged the use of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ in the months prior to the signing of the Treaty of Kanghwa.[12] The Western condemnation of the diplomacy with Korea was therefore somewhat more ‘conditional’, predicated as it was on the actual outbreak of a Sino-Japanese war, which was considered rather less likely than it had in relation to the Taiwan expedition.

By way of a contrast, there were however instances of Western approval for the conduct, actions, and progress of the new Japanese government in general.[13] In the case of Korea and the 1876 Treaty of Kanghwa, arguable approval came from Western representatives such as John Bingham of the U.S. largely because the entire episode seemed to signal the ‘coming of age’ of a Japanese state which had ostensibly only thrown off a feudal system twenty years prior.[14] It was felt in most quarters that the ‘Unyo incident’ of 1875, and the diplomacy which followed was far less likely to cause an East Asian conflict than the earlier Taiwan expedition.[15] It was felt that the Meiji government handled the incident in a manner approaching the standards of the ‘civilized’ West, something which was noted with approval.

While the Western ministers in Peking and Tokyo objected to the Taiwan expedition immediately prior to its departure, there were others who not only did not, but actively encouraged it. Soejima’s diplomacy with China in the months preceding the invasion were praised in many Western circles as being in meticulous alignment with Western international law.[16] Other observers also began to approve once the expedition was complete, including Edward House, an American journalist who accompanied Saigō Tsugumichi’s forces, and George Seward, the American consul-general in Shanghai. The main argument made by both was that Japan had displayed both bold and active initiative, and a comprehensive knowledge of Western international law, while the Chinese attempted to conduct their diplomacy as they always had done.[17]

While the actual involvement of Westerners in the planning and execution of the expedition speaks volumes over the support shown for it, it is important to note that perhaps the most famous, General Charles LeGendre, was employed by the Japanese government as an advisor, meaning he was obliged to show enthusiasm for it.[18] The arguments made by LeGendre, the former American consul at Amoy, and DeLong, John Bingham’s predecessor as U.S. minister to Tokyo, were that Japanese occupation of Taiwan would be preferable to any of the other Western powers.[19] Due to LeGendre’s direct involvement, it may not be accurate to name him an ‘observer’, but the viewpoint was supported in The Times as well.[20] One significant constraint is that, as noted above, LeGendre’s involvement was strictly prohibited by the U.S. government, and DeLong was ostracised by the State Department for his unauthorised support for the venture.[21]

As a useful complement, newspapers such as The New York Times, The North-China Herald and The Times also covered the events, portraying the Chinese in a negative light, while the former simultaneously referred to the Japanese as “the honourable and generous nation we now know it to be.”[22] The reason for newspaper articles being a useful contrast is that, while the opinions of House and Seward were likely to be well-informed and accurate, the New York Times was likely to represent a more general public opinion – the combination of both opinions thus gives a broad spectrum of viewpoints. Such a wide range of sources may be considered more representative than the narrow views of four ministers representing two nations.

Based on the evidence of contemporaries then, there was a certain amount of discord among Western observers concerning the overtures to both Taiwan and Korea. Support for both ventures waxed and waned through the years leading up to and following the incidents. One can however make interpretations based on a comparison between Japanese actions and the actions of the Western world. In the case of the Taiwan expedition, there is a degree of contention over the Japanese motives behind the venture. While some, such as Ekildsen, have cited domestic factors, such as a basis for the establishment of a national identity, or an outlet for ex-samurai aggression, these would have been of little concern to Western observers, and so their relevance to the question above is debatable at best.[23] The majority of historians however, including such heavyweights as Conroy and Reischauer, argue that 1874 was little more than a punitive expedition in response to the 1871 massacre of fifty-four Ryūkyūan sailors by the Taiwanese aborigines.[24] The Japanese government considered the Ryūkyū islands to be under their sovereignty by virtue of the fact that a tributary relationship had been established between the ruler of the chain of islands and the daimyō of the Satsuma han centuries before. This meant that according to Western international law, the Japanese were well within their rights to launch a punitive expedition in the defence of their sovereign subjects, something which is likely to have been met with approval by many Western observers – it showed a Japanese willingness to conform to Western standards and law.

Such meticulous attention to the norms of Western international relations was also carried through into the Meiji dealings with Korea in the years until 1876.[25] The fact that, by all Western standards, both expeditions may be considered ‘legal’ means that observers in the West must have at least had some implicit approval, else risking hypocrisy. Particularly with regards to the diplomacy preceding the Treaty of Kanghwa, the West itself had introduced Eastern Asia to the concept of ‘gunboat diplomacy’; they had set the precedent for its appropriate use.[26] The fact that the Meiji government used such tactics is undeniable, especially when one considers the events leading up to and including the Unyo incident, and the proximity of said incident to Seoul.[27] The use of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ arguably showed admirable initiative on the part of the Meiji government, as they took Perry’s example of twenty years prior and consciously adapted it to their needs.[28] Such was noted by Sir Harry Parkes in the immediate aftermath of the incident, though whether or not he approved remains implied only.[29]

What is clearer is the precedent which the Treaty of Kanghwa set. Until that point, Korea had pursued a policy reminiscent of the Tokugawa seclusionist tendencies. What followed the extraction of the commercial treaty was much the same in Korea as it had been in Japan. The U.S. made a treaty of their own a few years later, closely followed by similar British and German agreements in 1883, a Russian one in 1884, and finally French in 1886.[30] It would seem then that, even if the Westerners did not approve of the episode itself, they were more than willing to take advantage of its consequences.[31] In terms of conjecture then, it seems likely that the Westerners approved far more of the Meiji government’s actions in relation to Korea than Taiwan, simply because they threatened the ‘status quo’ in South-East Asia far less.

Overall then, the opinions of Western observers were not cohesive at any point – Japanese actions and motives were debated throughout the period. In the long-term lead up to the Taiwan expedition, Westerners were largely supportive of the venture, but as noted above, opinion in diplomatic circles changed when the details became clear. Evidence from the press reports on the incident, and Edward House’s account however, combined with the point at which Western judgement came to rest would seem to show that, while there were qualms about it, the majority of observers approved of the way the Meiji government handled itself. The diplomatic overtures to Korea are far clearer cut however – there was little or no disapproval for the way in which the Japanese extracted a commercial treaty from Korea. That said, there was also very little in the way of explicit approval, with most being derived from the implicit Japanese mimicry of Western practice. While Western observers largely did approve of the early Meiji foreign overtures, it would be downright inaccurate to state that approval was unanimous.

Word count (including title): 2,947

 

[1] E. Shinkichi, ‘Japan’s Policies Toward China,’ in J.W. Morley (ed.), Japan’s Foreign Policy, 1868-1941: A Research Guide (New York & London, 1974), p.238.

[2] N. Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji Policies Towards the Ryukyus and the Taiwanese Aboriginal Policies,’ Modern Asian Studies, 43:3 (2009), p.688, E. Leung, ‘The Quasi-War in East Asia: Japan’s Expedition to Taiwan and the Ryūkyū Controversy,’ Modern Asian Studies, 17:2 (1983), pp.274-6, P. Duus, The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895-1910 (Berkeley, 1998), p.45.

[3] L. Gordon, ‘Japan’s Abortive Colonial Venture in Taiwan, 1874,’ The Journal of Modern History, 37:2 (1965), pp.180.

[4] Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji,’ p.728, Leung, ‘Quasi-War,’ p.268, S.C. Thomson, ‘Filibustering to Formosa: General Charles LeGendre and the Japanese,’ Pacific Historical Review, 40:4 (1971), p.447.

[5] Thomson, ‘Filibustering,’ p.450, Gordon, ‘Taiwan,’ p.174, Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji,’ p.727, Leung, ‘Quasi-War,’ p.274, H. Conroy, The Japanese Seizure of Korea, 1868-1910: A Study of Realism and Idealism in International Relations (Philadelphia, 1974), p.55.

[6] Gordon, ‘Taiwan,’ p.174, Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji,’ pp.727-8, Leung, ‘Quasi-War,’ p.274, Thomson, ‘Filibustering,’ p.450, ‘The Japanese Expedition to Formosa,’ The Times, 31 July 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, p.17.

[7] Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji,’ p.727.

[8] R. Ekildsen, ‘Of Civilization and Savages: The Mimetic Imperialism of Japan’s 1874 Expedition to Taiwan,’ The American Historical Review, 107:2 (2002), p.398, Thomson, ‘Filibustering,’ p.452, Y. Kim, Korea and Japan: The Clash of Worldview, 1868-1876 (Seoul, 2006), pp.140-1.

[9] Kim, Korea and Japan, p.127, Leung, ‘Quasi-War,’ p.276.

[10] J.E. Thomas, Modern Japan: A Social History since 1868 (London & New York), p.131.

[11] Kim, Korea and Japan, p.140.

[12] Conroy, Japanese Seizure, p.62.

[13] H. Kublin, ‘The “Modern” Army of Early Meiji Japan,’ The Far Eastern Quarterly, 9:1 (1949), p.21, A. Heard, D.W. Stevens, H. Martin, ‘China and Japan in Korea,’ The North American Review, 159:454 (1894), p.308, Meiji Japan through Contemporary Sources, Vol.2: 1844-1882 (Tokyo, 1970), p.123.

[14] W.G. Beasley, The Rise of Modern Japan (London, 1990), p.144, Heard et al., ‘China,’ p.312, Conroy, Japanese, p.62.

[15] Kim, Korea and Japan, p.61, L.H. Battistini, ‘The Korean Problem in the Nineteenth Century,’ Monumenta Nipponica, 8:1/2 (1952), p.50, Heard et al., ‘China and Japan,’ p.311, A. Iriye, ‘Japan’s drive to great-power status,’ in M.B. Jansen (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan, vol.5: The Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1989), p.746, Thomas, Modern Japan, p.131.

[16] M.J. Mayo, ‘The Korean Crisis of 1873 and early Meiji foreign policy,’ in P. Kornicki (ed.), Meiji Japan: Political, economic and social history 1868-1912, vol.1: The emergence of the Meiji state (London & New York, 1998), p.163.

[17] Kublin, ‘”Modern” Army,’ p.36, Thomson, ‘Filibustering,’ p.452.

[18] Mayo, ‘Korean,’ p.156, Leung, ‘Quasi-War,’ p.267, Conroy, Japanese, p.53, Gordon, ‘Taiwan,’ pp.171-2, Thomson, ‘Filibustering,’ p.444.

[19] Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji,’ pp.705-6, Mayo, ‘Korean,’ p.156.

[20] ‘The Japanese Expedition to Formosa,’ The Times, 11 August 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, p.19.

[21] On DeLong: Mayo, ‘Korean,’ p.156. On LeGendre: Leung, ‘Quasi-War,’ p.268, Gordon, ‘Taiwan,’ p.172

[22] For the New York Times, see: Thomson, ‘Filibustering,’ p.453. See also: ‘The Japanese in Formosa,’ The North-China Herald, 27 June 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, p.14, ‘The Japanese Expedition to Formosa,’ The Times, 11 August 1874, p.20.

[23] See F.R. Dickinson, ‘External Relations,’ in W.M. Tsutsui (ed.), A Companion to Japanese History (Malden, 2009), p.211, or Iriye, ‘Japan’s drive,’ pp.741-3.

[24] Gordon, ‘Taiwan,’ p.171, Conroy, Japanese, p.36, L.M. Cullen, A History of Japan, 1851-1941: Internal and External Worlds (Cambridge, 2003), p.229, Ekildsen, ‘Of Civilization,’ p.388, Mayo, ‘Korean,’ p.155, Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji,’ p.684, Leung, ‘Quasi-War,’ pp.257, 262, Y-S. Han, ‘Formosa under Three Rules,’ Pacific Historical Review, 19:4 (1950), p.404, J.E. Hunter, The Emergence of Modern Japan: An Introductory History since 1853 (London & New York, 1995), p.42, E.O. Reischauer, A.M. Craig, Japan: Tradition and Transformation (Revised edn.) (Boston, 1989), p.143, J.H. Gubbins, The Making of Modern Japan (Milton Keynes, 2009), p.89.

[25] Dickinson, ‘External,’ p.208, Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji,’ pp.685-7, Conroy, Japanese, p.57.

[26] Mizuno, ‘Early Meiji,’ p.701.

[27] Hunter, Emergence, p.44, Battistini, ‘Korean Problem,’ p.50, Duus, The Abacus, p.14, Conroy, Japanese, p.62, Gubbins, The Making, p.89, Reischauer et al., Japan, p.143, Iriye, ‘Japan’s drive,’ pp.745-6, M.R. Auslin, Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy (Cambridge & London, 2004), p.197, A. Dudden, Japan’s Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power (Honolulu, 2005), p.2, J. Kim, A History of Korea: From “Land of the Morning Calm” to States in conflict (Bloomington, 2012), p.286, M. Hane, L.G. Perez, Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (4th edn.)(Philadelphia, 2009), p.163.

[28] A.A. Gordon, A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present (New York & Oxford, 2003), p.115, Dudden, Japan’s Colonization, p.2, Meiji Japan, pp.124-5.

[29] Cullen, History of Japan, p.230.

[30] Kim, History of Korea, p.288.

[31] Battistini, ‘Korean Problem,’ p.51, C.O. Paullin, ‘The Opening of Korea by Commodore Shufeldt,’ Political Science Quarterly, 25:3 (1910), p.477.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

‘China and the Formosan Difficulty,’ The North-China Herald, 12 September 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, pp.26-7

‘Japan and Formosa,’ The North-China Herald, 25 April 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, pp.7-8

‘Nagasaki,’ The North-China Herald, 16 May 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, p.8

‘Summary of News,’ The North-China Herald, 15 August 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, p.22

‘The Japanese Expedition to Formosa,’ The Times, 11 August 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, pp.19-20

‘The Japanese Expedition to Formosa,’ The Times, 31 July 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, pp.16-8

‘The Japanese in Formosa,’ The North-China Herald, 27 June 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, pp.14-5

‘The War in Formosa,’ The China Mail, 5 August 1874, in Y. Uchikawa, M. Miyaji (eds.), Gaikoku Shinbun ni Miru Nihon, vol.2, p.18

House, E.H., The Japanese Expedition to Formosa (Tokyo, 1875)

Meiji Japan through Contemporary Sources, Vol.2: 1844-1882 (Tokyo, 1970)

Secondary Sources

Auslin, M.R., Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy (Cambridge & London, 2004)

Battistini, L.H., ‘The Korean Problem in the Nineteenth Century,’ Monumenta Nipponica, 8:1/2 (1952), pp.47-66

Beasley, W.G., The Rise of Modern Japan (London, 1990)

Conroy, H., ‘Chōsen Mondai: The Korean Problem in Meiji Japan,’ Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 100:5 (1956), pp.443-54

Conroy, H., The Japanese Seizure of Korea, 1868-1910: A Study of Realism and Idealism in International Relations (Philadelphia, 1974)

Cullen, L.M., A History of Japan, 1853-1941: Internal and External Worlds (Cambridge, 2003)

Dickinson, F.R., ‘External Relations,’ in W.M. Tsutsui (ed.), A Companion to Japanese History (Malden, 2009), pp.207-23

Dudden, A., Japan’s Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power (Honolulu, 2005)

Duus, P., The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895-1910 (Berkeley, 1998)

Ekildsen, R., ‘Of Civilization and Savages: The Mimetic Imperialism of Japan’s 1874 Expedition to Taiwan,’ The American Historical Review, 107:2 (2002), pp.388-418

Gordon, A.A., A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present (New York & Oxford, 2003)

Gordon, L., ‘Japan’s Abortive Colonial Venture in Taiwan, 1874,’ The Journal of Modern History, 37:2 (1965), pp.171-85

Gubbins, J.H., The Making of Modern Japan (Milton Keynes, 2009)

Han, Y-S., ‘Formosa under Three Rules,’ Pacific Historical Review, 19:4 (1950), pp.397-407

Hane, M., L.G. Perez, Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (4th edn.)(Philadelphia, 2009)

Heard, A., D.W. Stevens, H. Martin, ‘China and Japan in Korea,’ The North American Review, 159:454 (1894), pp.300-20

Hunter, J.E., The Emergence of Modern Japan: An Introductory History since 1853 (London & New York, 1995)

Iriye, A., ‘Japan’s drive to great-power status,’ in M.B. Jansen (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan, vol.5: The Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1989), pp.721-82

Jansen, M.B., ‘The Meiji State: 1868-1912,’ in T. Megarry (ed.), The Making of Modern Japan: A Reader (Dartford, 1995)

Kim, J., A History of Korea: From “Land of the Morning Calm” to States in conflict (Bloomington, 2012)

Kim, Y., Korea and Japan: The Clash of Worldviews, 1868-1876

Kublin, H., ‘The “Modern” Army of Early Meiji Japan,’ The Far Eastern Quarterly, 9:1 (1949), pp.20-41

Leung, E., ‘The Quasi-War in East Asia: Japan’s Expedition to Taiwan and the Ryūkyū Controversy,’ Modern Asian Studies, 17:2 (1983), pp.257-81

Mayo, M.J., ‘The Korean Crisis of 1873 and early Meiji foreign policy,’ in P. Kornicki (ed.), Meiji Japan: Political, economic and social history 1868-1912, vol.1: The emergence of the Meiji state (London & New York, 1998), pp.149-81

Mizuno, N., ‘Early Meiji Policies Towards the Ryukyus and the Taiwanese Aboriginal Policies,’ Modern Asian Studies, 43:3 (2009), pp.683-739

Norman, E.H., Japan’s Emergence as a Modern State: Political and Economic Problems of the Meiji Period (New York, 1940)

Paullin, C.O., ‘The Opening of Korea by Commodore Shufeldt,’ Political Science Quarterly, 25:3 (1910), pp.470-99

Reischauer, E.O., A.M. Craig, Japan: Tradition and Transformation (Revised edn.) (Boston, 1989)

Schmid, A., ‘Colonialism and the ‘Korea Problem’ in the Historiography of Modern Japan: A Review Article,’ The Journal of Asian Studies, 59:4 (2000), pp.951-76

Shinkichi, E., ‘Japan’s Policies Toward China,’ in J.W. Morley (ed.), Japan’s Foreign Policy, 1868-1941: A Research Guide (New York & London, 1974), pp.236-64

Thomas, J.E., Modern Japan: A Social History since 1868 (London & New York, 1996)

Thomson, S.C., ‘Filibustering to Formosa: General Charles LeGendre and the Japanese,’ Pacific Historical Review, 40:4 (1971), pp.442-56

Treat, P.J., ‘Early Sino-Japanese Diplomatic Relations,’ Pacific Historical Review, 1:1 (1932), pp.18-35

Feedback:

70%

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

Breadth of Reading: Outstanding-Excellent

Critical approach to historiography: Excellent-Good

Focus on question: Excellent

Organization of the material: Excellent

Depth of understanding and insight: Excellent-Good

Use of examples: Good

Introduction and Conclusion: Excellent-Good

Factual accuracy: Good

Comprehensiveness of coverage: Excellent

Fluent and correct English: Excellent

Accurate spelling/proof reading: Excellent

Sources cited correctly: Good

General Comments and Advice: A well-informed and for the most part lucidly written analysis of Western views on early Meiji overseas ventures. In places, more primary source material could have been usefully deployed to reinforce some of your key points, e.g. on the notion that the Japanese opened Korea to trade in a ‘civilised’ manner. In terms of in-depth analysis, there is also scope for drawing on this source material to explore some cases, tacit approval, e.g. the suggestion of complicity in early Meiji expansionism. Nevertheless, you have laid out an effective structure, differentiating between various types of observers to point up the dissonance to be found among the powers and between diplomats, journalists, merchants etc. Overall you have managed to construct a largely convincing and judicious overview of the spectrum of opinion at the time.

 

Book Review: ‘The Burning Land’, by Bernard Cornwell

The_Burning_Land_CoverI ended up taking a break of almost a year between the fourth book in this series, Sword Song, and The Burning Land, and I’m not quite sure why it was so long. I was pulled back into it by the new BBC adaptation, The Last Kingdom. Having read the book in about two days, I’ve been trying to work out why I stopped, coming to the conclusion that it was certainly not for lack of enjoyment. I’m a massive fan of Uthred as a character, as he is repeatedly put in seemingly impossible situations.

I was delighted to discover the usual fantastic blend of action and dialogue, and as a history student I’m always keen on books remaining fairly accurate. In terms of historical fiction, Bernard Cornwell is certainly up there with Conn Iggulden in terms of juggling a fantastically written book with a high degree of historical accuracy.

The plot moved along at a fantastic rate, and the progression of the wider story continues to keep the reader guessing about where Uthred might eventually end up. The characters are all realistically imperfect, meaning that most have moments where you can empathise with them at least to a certain degree.

‘The Burning Land’, by Bernard Cornwell is the fifth in the Saxon Stories. 

How did the Japanese feel about the prospect of opening treaty ports?

This essay achieved a low 1st in the third year of my undergraduate.

How did the Japanese feel about the prospect of opening treaty ports?

The opening of the Japanese treaty ports happened in two distinct phases, with the initial precedent set in 1853/4 with the arrival of Commodore Perry’s infamous ‘black ships,’ only to be further exploited in 1858 by Townsend Harris, the American Consul present in Shimoda.[1] The instabilities which became clear within Japan as a result of it’s opening to the world are the source of much debate both in Western and Eastern writing. Beasley was the first main contributor to the debate, in 1955 with his Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, and it has been argued by the likes of Totman that he has framed the debate with his polarised schools of ‘jōi’ and ‘kaikoku’.[2] While this does serve to neatly categorise the viewpoints prevalent in Japan at the time, it does not adequately convey the intricacies of Japanese foreign policy in the period 1853-1863.[3] As such, one might add at least a third distinct ‘school’ in between the two polar opposites, so as to show the full spectrum of Japanese opinion.

At the more pro-Western end of the spectrum are those who were in favour of opening the treaty ports, those Beasley would describe as proponents of kaikoku. These proponents had a whole range of motives for supporting the opening of the treaty ports, from simple affluence to a desire to strengthen the nation with Western knowledge and technology. Totman has pointed out that Beasley uses Abe Masahiro as one of the extremes in his model, arguing that he favoured opening ports for trade even before Perry’s arrival in 1853, and it is likely that Japanese merchants, perhaps most obviously Takegawa Chikusai, were aware of the wealth available if they were able to trade with the Western merchants outside of Nagasaki.[4] Even in 1853, in spite of Perry’s bullish actions or perhaps because of them, the Emperor at the time, Takatsukasa, favoured peace and commerce over any armed conflict.[5] At one end of the spectrum then, there was not just mere acceptance of the treaty ports – they were welcomed by some Japanese as an opportunity at commerce and affluence.

Alongside those who supported the treaty ports as a means to economically strengthen the country were those whose motives were more pragmatic. Supporters of the Bakufu government such as Hayashi Shihei and Honda Toshiaki realised early on that they would be unable to resist armed Western incursions unless they modernised their military, and the level of their technology.[6] To that end, the treaty ports were seen as an opportunity to improve the Japanese military through the employment of Western technology and military drill. Perhaps the most famous proponent of this view is Ii Naosuke who supported the slogan of ‘Western Technology, Eastern Morals’.[7] The slogan gained support among many Japanese, and was widely used to counteract concerns of being associated with what were viewed as morally questionable Westerners.[8]

As early as the 1820s, Japanese such as Takahashi Shuhan began learning gunnery and Western drill, and in 1853 Egawa Tarozaemon succeeded in casting cannon.[9] Both of these examples show a willingness to assimilate rather than reject Western ideas, something borne of the Shinto teaching of Hirata Atsutane which specifies that Japan’s special virtues come from divine descent as opposed to Confucian Civilization. The argument therefore was that Japanese virtues could not be corrupted by Western culture, due to its divine origin.[10] While Ii Naosuke was the most well-known supporter of this view, he was arguably not the most significant. Shimazu Nariakira also encouraged knowledge of the West, something made notable when one realises that he was of the Satsuma Domain, given the later conflict with the West.[11] All of this would seem to be evidence of pro-foreigner feeling in Japan prior to the opening of the treaty ports, but it remains difficult to distinguish between those who were genuinely pro-foreigner, or merely pro-Bakufu – those who trusted the government to see them through the crisis.[12]

More towards the centre of the spectrum are those who were resigned to the fact that Japan would be opened, and wanted to do it on their own terms, rather than have conditions imposed upon them. It is widely argued that Abe Masahiro falls into this category, mainly because he realised that resisting Western advances would be futile, but also out of fear of violent repercussions which might arise from refusal.[13] It was not just Abe Masahiro however – his successor Hotta Masayoshi was also worried what a refusal of Western trade might mean for the future of the Japanese nation, as shown in his memorandum from the 3rd Month of 1857, which was directed towards the officials responsible for the study of foreign trade.[14] As a private government communication, Hotta had no reason to expect that it would be read by anyone other than his intended recipient, and as such would have been able to be far more candid and honest than he might have been in a public communication. It can therefore be considered a largely accurate portrayal of his view. As well as the foreign policymakers, it is clear that the viewpoint was supported by others in power in Japan, such as the wider Rōjū council, the Daimyō of the Tamari-no-ma, and perhaps most significantly, Ikebe Tōzaemon, who was a supporter of Tokugawa Nariaki’s somewhat radical views until 1853 and the arrival of Commodore Perry.[15]

Perhaps obviously, those Japanese who had most knowledge of the West and its power were those who realised that resistance would lead only to defeat. Most notable were Ito Hirobumi, who travelled the West before returning to Japan, and Takegawa Chikusai, the merchant mentioned above, who both recognised the futility of conducting any armed conflict against the Western powers.[16] It would therefore seem that there was a host of Japanese who were resistant to the idea of kaikoku, but knew that they would be unable to retain sovereignty if the Westerners decided to invade. For many of these in the so-called ‘centre’ of the spectrum, foreign policy hence became less about rejecting foreigners and more about identifying the minimum level of concession which would prevent Western aggression.[17] The treaty ports were therefore seen as an acceptable half-measure to placate the Western powers while Japan rearmed so as to be in a stronger position for future negotiations.

While some Japanese were resigned to the treaty ports being opened due to the overwhelming military superiority of the West, others recognised that the period of Sakoku was coming towards the end of its natural life, having endured for around two centuries. It was realised by some including Hotta, according to Totman, that increasing Western contact was inevitable, particularly with the invention of the steamship.[18] The disagreements lay over how to deal with this increased contact, and many argued that it need not be merely endured by Japan, but should rather be exploited, predominantly by sending envoys and trade overseas rather than waiting for Westerners to come to them.[19] This may seem obvious as an answer with the benefit of hindsight, but for contemporaries, it would have been very difficult to act in as alien a way as that must have seemed. The country had been isolated for around two hundred years, with the only contact from the West being through Nagasaki, and the Dutch traders who approached them there.[20] As such it would have been very difficult to break the routine quite as radically as suggested above. Overall then, while there were viable alternatives to the treaty ports, the Japanese were able to accept them –even if they were not happy about them- opening because it was familiar, and therefore easier.

The most well-documented viewpoint on the opening of the treaty ports is that which aligns more with the idea of jōi, or ‘expel the barbarian’, which forms the other end of the spectrum. Proponents of jōi were those who advocated physically forcing the Westerners from their country, no matter the cost. For most, this was limited to proposed resistance, but in a few cases between the signing of the treaties in 1858, and the opening of the last ports in 1863, actual hostilities ensued, most famously between the British and the Satsuma at Kagoshima and with the Chōshū at the Shimonoseki straits in the summer of 1863.[21] While these were right at the end of the period under consideration, they poignantly convey the vehemence with which some Japanese were against the opening of treaty ports. An important point to make is that, while the Satsuma and Chōshū were both against the principle of the treaty ports, of greater significance was the fact that they represented the will of the Bakufu, and as such rebelling against the idea of them meant a direct refusal to submit to Bakufu and Tokugawa authority, something implied by the adoption of the full slogan of ‘sonnō jōi’, which loosely meant ‘revere the Emperor, expel the barbarian’.[22]

Both the Satsuma and Chōshū remain extreme examples however – most Japanese proponents of jōi restricted themselves to merely proposing resistance.[23] Support for the idea of fighting the foreign commercial incursions was widespread, both in Edo and Kyoto. Both the courtier class of Kyoto and the Emperor Komei expounded the idea as a direct challenge to the Shogunate, something which those as radical as the Satsuma and Chōshū took very seriously.[24] Emperor Komei was well-known for being pro-seclusion, and was perhaps defined by his order in 1862 to expel the barbarians from Japan, in a direct challenge to the treaties of 1858 which had paved the way for the treaty ports to open.[25] The wishes of the Imperial Court were made clear in the correspondence to Hotta Masayoshi in May 1858, in which it was stated that the Emperor wanted to protect the traditional laws, and they are also supported by the Journal of Utsuki Roku-no-jō in July 1858.[26] Of the two, the correspondence might be considered more useful due to the fact that it is directly from the Imperial Court, but there is a great chance that the letter was merely posturing, and that the Emperor was flexing his political muscles so to speak, having not used his power in centuries. The journal, by contrast, was a private document which it is unlikely Utsuki expected anyone else to read. He therefore is likely to have written his mind truthfully, without fear of being held accountable for his words.

The most interesting character in the drama of the period was Tokugawa Nariaki, the Daimyō of the small Mito domain. While he was a Tokugawa, he strongly disapproved of the way in which the Bakufu handled the arrival of the foreigners, as is shown by his own correspondence with the Rōjū in December 1857.[27] In public he called for the foreigners to be expelled, so the temptation would be to categorise him alongside the Imperial Court.[28] His position is far more complex than that however. The Emperor proposed expulsion so as to keep Japanese culture pure, and to avoid any of the moral corruption that was so feared.[29] By contrast, Tokugawa Nariaki thought that the only way to halt the decay of the Samurai class in general, and specifically their morale, was to declare war on the West, and defend Japan.[30] It would appear then, that the idea of treaty ports was strongly opposed on both the sides of the Emperor and the Shogunate.

Much of the resistance to the idea of treaty ports came from the vague notions of animosity the Japanese held for most Westerners, who they viewed as barbarians and, as stated above, morally corrupting. With what can only really be described as racism, the Japanese regarded Westerners as inferior to them, treating them with hostility, distrust, and often condescension.[31] One must also stress that this ran both ways – the Westerners were disdainful of the Japanese, who they viewed as backward and feudal; traits they had left behind hundreds of years ago in their eyes. The inherent hostility of the Japanese to Westerners had developed over the course of their two hundred year isolation, and was arguably rooted in religion. There was a fear during the period of Sakoku that Christianity was the obvious precursor to invasion, and that it must not be allowed to enter Japan, and it was likely hard to banish the idea.[32] The constant Dutch presence at Nagasaki probably did nothing to allow the fear recede, rather acted as a persistent reminder to the Shogunate of the presence of an alternative religion. It would also have done nothing to further the cause of opening additional treaty ports, which were all viewed as points at which Christianity would leech through into the interior of the country.

Overall then, there was a wide range of opinion over the issue of treaty ports. What is also clear is that it was by no means as simple as Beasley’s kaikoku-jōi axis, as Totman argues.[33] It is also important to note that Beasley’s thesis is very general, dealing only with the Japanese and then one amorphous group simply referred to as ‘Westerners’. Lensen argues that the Japanese in fact distinguished between the various nations which arrived on their shores, and that the Russians were actually well-received; that there was no inherent xenophobia as there perhaps was with the other powers.[34] While there were two polar viewpoints, there was also a full range of opinion in between them, as demonstrated above. Crucially, the foreign policymakers such as Abe Masahiro and Hotta Masayoshi, those with the actual power to sign treaties, were resigned to the inevitability of opening trade and dialogues with the West, and decided it would be best to open treaty ports with as little bloodshed as possible. While they were by no means happy about it, the Bakufu were forced to make the best of an ever-worsening situation. The majority of Japanese people however were against the opening of treaty ports, and were therefore strongly opposed to the treaties of 1858, but at no point was there a full consensus.[35]

Word count (including title): 2,990

 

[1] For more information on Perry’s Expedition, see J.E. Thomas, Modern Japan: A Social History since 1868 (Harlow, 1996), pp.18-20, J.E. Hunter, The Emergence of Modern Japan: An Introductory History Since 1853 (London & New York, 1989), p.17. For more on the negotiations of 1857/8, see W.G. Beasley, The Rise of Modern Japan: Political, Economic and Social Change Since 1850 (Revised Edition) (London, 2000), pp.31-4, E.O. Reishcauer and A.M. Craig, Japan: Tradition and Transformation (Revised Edition) (Boston, 1989), p.121.

[2] C. Totman, ‘From Sakoku to Kaikoku. The Transformation of Foreign-Policy Attitudes, 1853-1868,’ Monumenta Nipponica, 35:1 (1980), p.2. See also J. Houtved, ‘A Japanese Merchant’s View of the Menacing Westerners,’ Kontur (2001), p.25.

[3] Totman, ‘Sakoku,’ p.4.

[4] Totman, ‘Sakoku,’ p.3, Houtved, ‘Japanese,’ p.29.

[5] M.V. Lamberti, ‘Tokugawa Nariaki and the Japanese Imperial Institution, 1853-1858,’ Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 32 (1972), p.108.

[6] W.G. Beasley, ‘The Foreign Threat and the Opening of the Ports,’ in ed. M.B. Jansen, The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 5: The Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1989), p.272.

[7] A.L. Sadler, A Short History of Japan (Sydney, 1946), p.266, M.B. Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan (London, 2002), p.281, Thomas, Modern Japan, p.21, Beasley, Rise, p.32.

[8] Houtved, ‘Japanese,’ p.25, Hunter, Emergence, p.19, Beasley, ‘Foreign Threat,’ p.274, R.L. Stevenson, Familiar Studies of men and books (First published 1882), p.151.

[9] Beasley, Rise, pp.22-4.

[10] Beasley, Rise, p.25.

[11] Sadler, Short History, p.266, Beasley, ‘Foreign Threat,’ p.272.

[12] Sadler, Short History, p.267.

[13] Reischauer et al., Japan, p.119, Thomas, Modern Japan, p.19, Sadler, Short History, p.265, Totman, ‘Sakoku,’ pp.3,8.

[14] Draft memorandum by Hotta Masayoshi on the points to be discussed by the officials responsible for the study of foreign trade, 1857, 3rd Month, in ed. W.G. Beasley, Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955), p.133.

[15] See Rōjū to all members of the Hyōjōsho, the Kaibōgakari, and the Nagasaki, Shimoda and Hakodate bugyō, 19th March 1857, in ed. W.G. Beasley, Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955), pp.130-1, Daimyō of the Tamari-no-ma to Rōjū, 10th January 1858 , in ed. W.G. Beasley, Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955), p.178 and B.T. Wakabayashi, Anti-Foreignism and Western Learning in Early-Modern Japan: The New Theses of 1825 (Cambridge, 1999), p.135.

[16] Thomas, Modern Japan, p.22, Hunter, Emergence, p.17, Houtved, ‘Japanese,’ p.24.

[17] Beasley, Rise, p.30.

[18] Totman, ‘Sakoku,’ pp.10-1, Hunter, Emergence, p.19, Beasley, ‘Foreign Threat,’ p.260.

[19] Beasley, Rise, p.32, Hunter, Emergence, p.19, R.G. Kane, Review: Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy, by M.R. Auslin, Pacific Affairs, 78:4 (2005/6), p.666.

[20] Thomas, Modern Japan, p.17.

[21] Beasley, ‘Foreign Threat,’ pp.291-5, Thomas, Modern Japan, pp.21-2, Reischauer et al., Japan, p.129, P. Barr, The Coming of the Barbarians: A Story of Western Settlement in Japan 1853-1870 (London, 1967), p.160, J. Livingston, J. Moore and F. Oldfather (eds.), The Japan Reader 1, Imperial Japan: 1800-1945 (New York, 1973), p.86.

[22] Beasley, Rise, p.22.

[23] Thomas, Modern Japan, p.19

[24] Thomas, Modern Japan, p.21, Sadler, Short History, p.269, Lamberti, ‘Tokugawa Nariaki,’ p.109.

[25] Imperial Court to Hotta Masayoshi, 3rd May 1858, in ed. W.G. Beasley, Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955), p.181, Sadler, Short History, p.267, Beasley, Rise, p.33.

[26] Imperial Court to Hotta Masayoshi, 3rd May 1858, in ed. W.G. Beasley, Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955), p.181, Journal of Utsuki Roku-no-jō, 29th July 1858, in ed. W.G. Beasley, Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955), p.182.

[27] Tokugawa Nariaki to Rōjū, 30th December 1857, in ed. W.G. Beasley, Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955), p.168.

[28] Jansen, Modern Japan, p.280.

[29] Stevenson, Familiar Studies, pp.150-1, Hunter, Emergence, p.17.

[30] Beasley, Rise, p.32, Lamberti, ‘Tokugawa Nariaki,’ pp.107-8, W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955), pp.11-4.

[31] Reischauer et al., Japan, p.121.

[32] Wakabayashi, Anti-Foreignism, pp.140-1.

[33] Totman, ‘Sakoku,’ p.4.

[34] G.A. Lensen, ‘Russians in Japan, 1858-9,’ The Journal of Modern History, 26:2 (1954), pp.165-6.

[35] Lamberti, ‘Tokugawa Nariaki,’ p.114, Beasley, ‘Foreign Threat,’ pp.273-4, Jansen, Modern Japan, p.280.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

Daimyō of the Tamari-no-ma to Rōjū, 10th January 1858, in W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

Draft memorandum by Hotta Masayoshi on the points to be discussed by the officials responsible for the study of foreign trade, 1857, 3rd Month, in W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

Imperial Court to Hotta Masayoshi, 3rd May 1858, in W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

Journal of Utsuki Roku-no-jō, 29th July 1858, in W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

Maki Izumi, Letter (Trans. Tomoko Moore), in J. Livingston, J. Moore and F. Oldfather (eds.), The Japan Reader 1, Imperial Japan: 1800-1945 (New York, 1973)

Matsudaira Keiei to Rōjū, 10th January 1858, in W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

Rōjū to all members of the Hyōjōsho, the Kaibōgakari, and the Nagasaki, Shimoda and Hakodate bugyō, 19th March 1857, in W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

Stevenson, R.L., Familiar Studies of men and books (First published 1882)

Tokugawa Nariaki to Rōjū, 30th December 1857, in W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

Townsend Harris’ Warning to Hotta Masayoshi, 12th December 1857

Treaty between the United States and Japan, signed 29th July 1858, in W.G. Beasley (ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

 Secondary Sources

Barr, P., The Coming of the Barbarians: A Story of Western Settlement in Japan 1853-1870 (London, 1967)

Baylen, J.O., ‘Focus on the Pacific, 1853: A Note on Russia’s Reaction to the Perry Expedition,’ The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 46:1 (1955), pp.19-24

Beasley, W.G., Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (London, 1955)

Beasley, W.G., ‘The Foreign Threat and the Opening of the Ports,’ in M.B. Jansen (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 5: The Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1989), pp.259-307

Beasley, W.G., The Rise of Modern Japan: Political, Economic and Social Change Since 1850 (Revised Edition) (London, 2000)

Blussé, L., Visible Cities: Canton, Nagasaki, and Batavia and the Coming of the Americans (Cambridge, 2008)

Houtved, J., ‘A Japanese Merchant’s View of the Menacing Westerners,’ Kontur, (2001) pp.23-9

Hunter, J.E., The Emergence of Modern Japan: An Introductory History Since 1853 (London & New York, 1989)

Jansen, M.B., ‘The Meiji Restoration,’ in M.B. Jansen (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 5: The Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1989), pp.308-366

Jansen, M.B., The Making of Modern Japan (London, 2002)

Kane, R.G., Review: Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy, by M.R. Auslin, Pacific Affairs, 78:4 (2005/2006), pp.665-6

Keene, D. Frog in the Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan, 1793-1841 (New York, 2006)

Lamberti, M.V., ‘Tokugawa Nariaki and the Japanese Imperial Institution, 1853-1858,’ Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 32 (1972), pp.97-123

Lensen, G.A., ‘Russians in Japan, 1858-9,’ The Journal of Modern History, 26:2 (1954), pp.162-73

Livingston, J., J. Moore and F. Oldfather (eds.), The Japan Reader 1, Imperial Japan: 1800-1945 (New York, 1973)

Masakazu, Y., ‘Re-examining the era of national seclusion,’ Japan Echo, 12:4 (1992)

Mihalopoulos, B., Review: Japan and the Specter of Imperialism, by M. Anderson, The Journal of Asian Studies 71:1 (2012), pp.252-4

Norman, E.H., ‘The Kihetai of Chōshū,’ in J. Livingston, J. Moore and F. Oldfather (eds.), The Japan Reader 1, Imperial Japan: 1800-1945 (New York, 1973), pp.87-9

Paul, H., ‘De Coningh on Deshima. Mijn Verblijf in Japan, 1856,’ Monumenta Nipponica, 32:3 (1977), pp.347-64

Reischauer, E.O., and A.M. Craig, Japan: Tradition and Transformation (Revised Edition) (Boston, 1989)

Sadler, A.L., A Short History of Japan (Sydney, 1946)

Thomas, J.E., Modern Japan: A Social History since 1868 (Harlow, 1996)

Totman, C., ‘From Sakoku to Kaikoku. The Transformation of Foreign-Policy Attitudes, 1853-1868,’ Monumenta Nipponica, 35:1 (1980), pp.1-19

Wakabayashi, B.T., Anti-Foreignism and Western Learning in Early-Modern Japan: The New Theses of 1825 (Cambridge, 1999)

Feedback:

70%

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

Breadth of Reading: Excellent

Critical approach to historiography: Outstanding-Excellent

Focus on question: Outstanding-Excellent

Organization of the material: Outstanding-Excellent

Depth of understanding and insight: Good

Use of examples: Good

Introduction and Conclusion: Excellent-Good

Factual accuracy: Good-Competent

Comprehensiveness of coverage: Excellent

Fluent and correct English: Excellent

Accurate spelling/proof reading: Excellent

Sources cited correctly: Good

General Comments and Advice: A lucid analysis, setting out a useful analytical framework by identifying poles of a notional spectrum and identifying degrees of affiliation in between. To some extent, the construct breaks down when looking in further detail, as you allude to later on, and not all the examples deployed are optimal choices. Ito Hirobumi, for example, was actually a member of the joi band that burnt down the British Legation! And Watanabe Kazan should really have featured when discussing kaikoku. There are also one or two sloppy factual errors on dates or scale – e.g. Mito a small domain? Nevertheless, this is an engaging critique, and you certainly demonstrate a sophisticated awareness of the poltical landscape in Japan, including a perceptive summary of sonno joi and some excellent insight on the real agenda behind the more strident rhetoric emanating from the court.