How were Japan's industrialization and imperialism linked?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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There are four key ingredients that countries need when moving towards industrialization.  These ingredients are raw materials for production, unskilled labor population, markets for finished product, and a strong military to protect its economic interests.  While Japan had a sizable population of unskilled laborers from the rural population, the other three factors presented a problem for Japan.  Like the European powers of the late 1800’s, Japan needed to look for these materials outside of its own borders.  

By the mid-1930’s Japan was emerging from an economic depression that caused great harm to agrarian workers.  The government was interested in investing in heavy industry and its military.  Japan had a surplus of laborers, but lacked the natural resources to fuel industrialism.  In an effort to secure resources, it looked beyond its islands.  

Japan was able to secure natural resources through the conquest of Korea, Taiwan, and China.  

Japan was also lacking in important military resources, primarily rubber and oil.  It was able to secure these items from the United States and Britain until economic embargoes threatened to shut down Japan’s navy.  As a result, Japan pursued an even more aggressive strategy of empire building to protect its industrial interests.


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