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Japan and the British world, 1904-14

Heere, Cornelis (2016) Japan and the British world, 1904-14. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This dissertation analyses the effect of the rise of Japan on the ‘British world’ during the early twentieth century, from the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) to the outbreak of the First World War. Victory over Russia in 1905 transformed Japan’s international position, elevating it to the rank of a Great Power, and allowing it to become an increasingly significant actor in East Asia and the Pacific. As its presence expanded, so did the scope for interaction with the British imperial system, bringing Japan into closer, and often frictious contact with Anglophone communities from the China coast to western Canada. This dissertation seeks to analyse that process, and assess its significance both for the changing nature of the Anglo-Japanese relationship, and the evolution of the British imperial system. By incorporating sources from Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the China coast within a single study, this dissertation integrates disparate historiographies that have taken either the imperial metropolis or the colonial nation as their object of study. It reaches three primary conclusions. First, it demonstrates that the imperial ‘periphery’ came to play an increasingly central role in how the British relationship with Japan was construed. Second, it showcases that a sense of external pressure from Japan, often interpreted in racial as much as geopolitical or commercial terms, became a prominent factor in how colonial elites came to redefine their position in a wider British world. Third, it shows that diverging racial views, in particular, came to constitute a structural problem in the management of the AngloJapanese relationship. The following study opens with an analysis of British assessments of the Russo-Japanese War, and proceeds to scrutinise several contexts in which Japan’s rise presented new forms of competition and rivalry: the British ‘informal empire’ in China; Japanese immigration to North America; and naval defence in the Pacific. Finally, it examines how these new controversies, in turn, forced the Anglo-Japanese alliance to evolve. As such, this dissertation aims to shed new light on both on the internal dynamics of the British imperial system, and its changing position in the world.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Cornelis Heere
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Best, Antony

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