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Why did Japan want to expand their empire in Asia? Explain in detail using ALL the documents provided in images below.

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As Document 1 shows, Japan had few natural resources, including oil, so the country wanted to expand to get access to oil and other resources. As the map of China shows, China had oil and other natural resources. Nationalist Japanese people of the time, such as the author of Document 2, believed that the powerful nations of the USSR, the U.S., Britain, and France—which together were much larger than Japan—had enacted tariffs that prevented Japan from accessing the natural resources that the nation needed.

Japan had taken over Korea in 1905. As the Taft-Katsura agreement of 1905 (Document 3) shows, both the U.S. and Japan were looking out for their imperial desires in this agreement in which the U.S. agreed to Japanese control of Korea as long as Japan kept its hands off the American colony of the Philippines. Japan was turning into an imperial power, as was the U.S., and the Japanese justified their takeover of Korea as productive for the Korean economy (Document 4). In 1937, Japan launched its takeover of China, and it was clear that, based on the statement of Prince Konoe (Document 5), Japan wanted to subjugate China to its own aims—something the nationalist Chinese disagreed with. In Document 6, a Japanese student during the Ruso-Japanese War of 1904-1905 depicted the USSR as an octopus swallowing Japan and other parts of the Asia in its tentacles. The Japanese justified their imperialism as preventing the imperialist aims of Soviet Russia.

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Deborah Sheldon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The desire of Japan to build a modern industrial civilization is what drove their desire at expansion.  Document 1A, which is the resource map of Japan, demonstrates that the country was limited with regards to vital materials necessary for industry.  This includes a lack of petroleum, limited iron ore, and scarce coal mines.  Nagai Ryutaro argues in Document 2 that four major powers have essentially shut Japan out of the global market through spheres of influence and high tariffs.  He feels that Japan's only response is to use force to gain access to materials and opportunities necessary to Japan's success.  Document 3 describes the designs that Japan had for colonizing Korea and the importance that it placed on the peninsula a decade before World War I.  This document seems to make the United States complicit in the early imperial ambitions of Japan because it was a conversation that involved the American Secretary of War.  In Document 4, the desire of Japan to create a new Asian order in China is communicated.  The Japanese feel that they are the only ones that can protect China from communism that could migrate from the Soviet Union.  The Japanese also want to eliminate Western influence in China to establish their own markets and influence.  Jiang Jieshi, the nationalist leader of China, does not feel that this patriarchal relationship will benefit his people.  

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