Japan’s Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere

Topics: Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II, Southeast Asia Pages: 17 (4916 words) Published: September 30, 2014
Japan’s Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere

In 1937, an engagement between China and Japan led to a bloody conflict between the two nations. This conflict and Japan’s desire to control East Asia dominated Japanese strategies until 1940, when Japan declared the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. This Co-prosperity Sphere promoted a “bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western Powers” (Dower, 262). The position of Japan was superior and all other nations in this “sphere” were seen as subordinate. It is clear that Japan had all intentions to dominate Asia and control previously European colonies. Although this desire for expansion was based on ideology, there was also the immediate and vital need for natural resources that Japan did not have. In order to have unlimited access to these resources, Japan promoted the Co-prosperity sphere in order to gain the support of locals in the nations it would occupy, such as the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Singapore and French Indochina (Dower, 262-290). In each of these countries, Japan deceived locals into thinking the Co-prosperity Sphere would benefit them, but in reality Japan only wanted to extract the natural resources it needed for military war making power. Although Japan attempted to make this sphere an attractive idea, it soon became clear to each of these countries that Japan was only focused on its own survival. This is can be seen in the many atrocities committed by the Japanese in each of these countries. Therefore, Japan promoted the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere in order to occupy the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Singapore and French Indochina and extract natural resources, and while doing so committed atrocities that resulted in the death of thousands of people. In 1934 prior to World War II, United States has agreed to recognize Philippine’s independence after a 10-year transitional period. Within those years Philippine had created their own government, but there was no development of their own defense since the United States had maintained a strong military presence throughout their islands to protect the assets of free trade overseen by General MacArthur in 1937. On December 8th, 1941 minutes after the Pearl Harbor bombing, the Japanese launched numerous air raids across Philippine islands, targeting American airfields and naval bases. Unexpected and unprepared, hundreds of planes and ships lay wasted as American troops were dumbfounded by what had happened. A few days later, the Japanese invaded the Philippines imposing their ideology of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, which incorporated the Filipinos to such “Japanese virtues as diligence, discipline and frugality” (Karnow, 308). However many Filipinos realized that co-prosperity mostly meant servitude to Japanese economic requirements. The original concept was an idealistic wish to “free Asia from colonizing powers, but soon, nationalists saw it as a way to gain resources to keep Japan a modern power, and militarists saw the same resources as raw materials for war” (Toland, 447). A prime instance of Japan’s Co-Prosperity happened when they were on a cotton shortage. The typical crop harvested in the Philippine was sugar cane, but after colonizing Taiwan, Japan wasn’t in need for sugar anymore. Instead, they desperately needed cotton that they once imported from India and the United states prior to the war. Since Japan was unable to import cotton anymore, they decided to grow cotton on the sugar cane fields in the Philippines to only have a disastrous outcome. “Lacking the seeds, pesticides and technological skills for the new crop, they reduced hundreds of thousands of acres of cane fields to stubble” (Karnow, 308) which decimated those who were in the sugar cane industry and many farmers became jobless and unemployed. To make matters worst, prices soared, as food and basic necessities became...

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