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Books > Business & Money > Economics > 0801495296
  1. Japan Prepares for Total War: The Search for Economic Security, 1919-1941 (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)
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  2. Japan Prepares for Total War: The Search for Economic Security, 1919-1941 (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

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    Customer Ratings (6 reviews)
    Price R653.00

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The roots of Japan's aggressive, expansionist foreign policy have often been traced to its concern over acute economic vulnerability. Michael A. Barnhart tests this assumption by examining the events leading up to World War II in the context of Japan's quest for economic security, drawing on a wide array of Japanese and American sources.

Barnhart focuses on the critical years from 1938 to 1941 as he investigates the development of Japan's drive for national economic self-sufficiency and independence and the way in which this drive shaped its internal and external policies. He also explores American economic pressure on Tokyo and assesses its impact on Japan's foreign policy and domestic economy. He concludes that Japan's internal political dynamics, especially the bitter rivalry between its army and navy, played a far greater role in propelling the nation into war with the United States than did its economic condition or even pressure from Washington. Japan Prepares for Total War sheds new light on prewar Japan and confirms the opinions of those in Washington who advocated economic pressure against Japan.

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Michael A. Barnhart
Cornell University Press
Cornell University Press
Cornell University Press
Cornell University Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This volume tells a very important part of the story of the Japanese Army and its part in dragging the nation into a catastrophic war. It is well and clearly written and generally quite strong in its sources. It is not the first book one should read about interwar Japan and its march to war, since it really does not present a rounded view of Japanese politics and the army as an institution. But for someone who understands the general background, it is fascinating and useful.
One caution: in common with many books written by specialists in Japanese history, it presents a very distorted picture of the mindset and actions of the Roosevelt administration. The central problem is an implicit assumption that Japan was the central concern when in fact its importance to FDR and his lieutenants lay in its relationship to the problem of Hitler. Deprived of this context, the actions of the administration are truly inexplicable.
Will O'Neil
Barnhart examines how the search for economic security influenced the actions of Japan during the interwar period. A modified version of his doctoral dissertation, Barnhart's study is heavily supported by self-translated research conducted in Japanese archives. Challenging the assumption that Emperor Hirohito and Tojo were the most influential players in the decisions leading up to war with the United States, the author outlines the complex internal workings of a state seeking economic self-sufficiency.

Looking to avoid the same fate as Germany during World War I, Japan's "total war" officers sought domestic reforms with hopes of achieving state autarky. However, unlike the United States, Japan held few natural resources, forcing the nation to heavily rely on international trade. Recognizing that this reliance would prove detrimental should future war break out, Japan sought to be dependent on no one. As Barnhart writes, "a nation that could not supply all of its own needs... Read more
Excellent analysis of political and military environment that lead Japan to start an unwinable war. Shows how blinders formed by history and prejudice can lead men and nations to take irrational actions with devastating consequences.
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