The Assimilation Policy of Imperial Japan
Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
Table of Contents
First Draft , Oct. 29 2013
First Draft . .
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Table of Contents
¥°. 1. Korea Subject State Theory (mid 19th century~1910)
¥°. 1. 1. Ideology
¥°. 1. 2. Policy
¥°. 1. 3. Response
¥°. 2. Civilization Enlightenment Theory (1897~1919)
¥°. 2. 1. Ideology
¥°. 2. 2. Policy
¥°. 2. 3. Response
¥°. 3. Pan-Asian Theory (1894~1930)
¥°. 3. 1. Ideology
¥°. 3. 2. Policy
¥°. 3. 3. Response
¥°. 4. Japan-Korea Unison Theory (1931~1945)
¥°. 4. 1. Ideology
¥°. 4. 2. Policy
¥°. 4. 3. Response
Definition of terms used in this paper (from Wikipedia)
Nation: a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, or history.
Race: classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, or social affiliation
National identity: person's subjective sense of belonging to one state or to one nation
Ethnicity: socially defined category of people who identify with each other based on a shared social experience or ancestry. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be associated with and ideologies of shared cultural heritage, ancestry, history, homeland, language or dialect, and with symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, physical appearance
Nationality: legal relationship between a person and a nation state
Citizenship: the link between a person and a state or an association of states
While imperialism of western countries- most notably England and France- aroused worldwide academic interest and research, relatively few research was conducted on the imperialism of Japan, most of the few confined in Japan or South Korea. There did exist a comparative analysis of Japanese imperialism, most notably Hosaka Yuugi¡¯s Assimilation Policy of Japanese Imperialism and Colonialism and Language by Junsik Son and two others; however, whereas this research includes Taiwan and Korea, few of the accessible studies included Ryukyu kingdom.
-scope and contents
Japanese imperialism is ultimately an Asian adaptation and development of Western imperialism, a mixture of both English and French. Among the vast range of imperialism in Japan, this paper will primarily focus on the assimilation policy as it tried to annex the vast colonial territory and create a large, land-based empire. The most notable examples of Japanese colonialism is Korea and Taiwan, as they were the closest to Japan and functioned as strategic points in Japan¡¯s continental expansion. The largely neglected example is Okinawa, a region consisted of series of islands southwest of the main islands. There was a small kingdom called Ryukyu Kingdom at the point of annexation, and the Okinawan region had gone through a completely separate process of development. However, after the after 67 years of colonialism, the Ryukyu people came to perceive themselves as Japanese. It should be also noted that the responses in Korea and Taiwan, while they both did not get assimilated, were vastly different. The focus of the paper is on those differences, the causes of such differences, and the major setbacks and advantages of such policies.
-Japanese Colonialism and assimilation policy
According to the definition in Kolonialismus: Geschichte, Formen, Folgen by Jurgen Osterhammel, ¡°Colonialism is a dominant-subordinate relationship between groups in which the fundamental decision on the lives of the subordinate is set by a minority of colonizers who are culturally heterogeneous and have no will to adapt. Such colonizers decide based on outside interests and carry through the decision. Furthermore, modern colonialism in general is associated with missionary ideological justification based on colonizers¡¯ conviction on their cultural superiority.¡± Based on this definition, there are three types of colonialism in history: ruling colony, base colony, and settlement colony. Ruling colony is based on a minority of colonizers coming over to live in the colony with military power, and its purpose is economic benefit. It includes India, Indochina, Egypt and the Philippines. Base colony is a result of maritime activity, as the colonizers needed ports for transfer and fuel. It includes Malacca, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Shanghai. Settlement colony has power consisted of permanent residential farmers from the colonizing country and includes New England, Africa, and the Caribbean. Among these three, Japanese Korea, Taiwan, and Okinawa no doubt belong to the first classification. However, Japanese colonialism goes a step further and tries to annex the territory into their country by the assimilation policy, a theory called the mainland extension policy. Basically, the Japanese mainland government wanted Korea, Taiwan, and Okinawa to be treated as mere districts (prefectures) of Japan, and treated their people as Japanese citizens, although lower-class citizens.
Imperial Japan intended to create a vast empire based on East Asia, including Ryukyu(Okinawa), Joseon (Korea), Manchu, Mongol, and Central Asia. To achieve that goal, Japan had to establish a military/economic base on the continents, such as Joseon or Taiwan. Therefore, Japan put particular effort in assimilating the Joseon people into believing they were originally Japanese to minimize the resistance and stimulate voluntary service from the colonial people.
Moreover, because the western powers claimed to support democracy and independence , the Imperial Japan at least needed a justification to colonize East Asia. Therefore, Japan brought up numerous pretexts so as to why Imperial Japan had to rule over its colonies. This paper will focus on the assimilation theories Imperial Japan advocated and the actual effects they had. Especially, Japan put extra care into assimilation ideologies regarding Joseon, as it was the most culturally developed and populated at the time.
¥°. 1. Korea Subject State Theory (mid 19th century~1910)
¥°. 1. 1. Ideology
In mid-19th century Japan, the transitional period from Tokugawa Shogunate to Meiji Era, there was a strong desire to invade Joseon . Due to the social turmoil in which social hierarchy was reconstructed, the former Samurais, the respected semi-aristocratic class, fell to disgrace. A strong centralist government was established, which forcibly mobilized people to work in factories. To mitigate the hostility towards the new government and instill loyalty, the Japanese government looked to Chosun, the nearest country, to let the anger outpour and attest to outcome of industrialization. In the renewed sense of superiority, the Japanese government looked for pretexts to invade Chosun. The result was the Korean Subject State Theory(ìòÑáìíÜâÝ¤àã), the view that Yamato Japan expanded to Southern Korean peninsula and dominated Shilla, Baekje, and Gaya . Now, although there are some Japanese scholars believing it as a historical fact, this story is generally regarded as fiction.
One point they made was Korean Delegation, Joseon Tongshinsa in Korean. In 1404, after forming a relationship between Tae-jong and Shogun , Joseon sent the Korean Delegation, and Japan sent Japanese Kings Envoy in return. The communication meant that the two countries interchange upon faith. From the first delegation in 1492, it usually requested prohibition of Japanese raiders, explored government administration and exchanged cultures. There are numerous Japanese pictures and documents depicting the reception of Korean Delegation, which showed that the Japanese government put a lot of effort and money in receiving the envoy.
After the Japanese invasion of Korea from 1592 to 1598, the delegation stopped for a while. During the war, Japan held a dominant position until the middle phase, but Joseon counterattacked by the navy. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi, shogun and commander-in-chief, died from an illness, Japan made a full retreat. Inside, Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Edo Shogunate. Since Japan was an insular state with Joseon as the window to continental culture, Japanese government soon requested persistently that delegation be sent again. It was very popular that after the Korean Delegation visited, Joseon style became a trend for a while.
There was no doubt that while Japan was on the rise, Joseon was on the downside. Except for culture, Japan was superior to Joseon. As Japanese national power got stronger, nationalism and self-pride developed and Japanese people expressed dissatisfaction at the huge reception expenses. The extreme right was growing in the government. At last, in 1811, the Korean Delegation went for the last time. There were no more requests from Japan, nor did Joseon send any more.
After several decades, some Japanese government officials and intellects claimed that they should go on a conquest of Joseon, reproaching Joseon of being impolite. Their historical knowledge was distorted; they believed that the Korean Delegation was to pay a tribute.
Yoshida Showin was one of such intellects. He asserted that Joseon must be the bridgehead of conquering Asia. To justify the conquest, he held Gojiki and Nihon Shoki as another evidence. The myth Showin focused on was the myth of Mimana Nihonfu conquering the Three Countries of Korea , starting from Shilla. This anecdote does not exist in records of the same period, such as Records of the Three Kingdoms or The Chronicles of the Three States . Other than that, there are many discrepancies between this anecdote and other historical texts.
According to the Japanese government, there is another evidence of that theory: the GwangetowangBi. Gwangetowang is the revered 17th king of Goguryeo , and GwangetowangBi is memorial stone to commemorate his merits set in Manchu. In 1879, the General Staff sent spies to China, one of whom returned with the epitaph. In the epitaph, it is written: ÛÝíÑãæÔþÏÁãÀáÕÚÅë¦ÕÎðÈÍøì»èÞì¤ãôÙÖÒ´ÕÎ¡à¡à¡àÛÝíÑ¡à¡àãæÔþì¤ãíÚÅ. There are damaged parts that cannot be deciphered. The General Staff, translating the damaged parts liberally, claimed that ancient Japan conquered Baekje and Silla and ruled for two centuries. However, Korean scholars decipher the text with Goguryeo as the doer, considering that it is a stone made by Goguryeo. Some even assert that the contents were manipulated by the Japanese during the 20th century, bringing writing forward.
¥°. 1. 2. Policy
Despite the controversies, public schools during the colonial era taught that their theory was a historical fact. The public schools put a lot of effort in teaching history to claim that Japan and Korea had been close historically. Using the Subject State Theory formed in this era, Japanese Imperial scholars later developed the Japan-Korea Unison Theory and systematically injected their theories into young student¡¯s minds. The assimilation ideologies became much more sophisticated and complex after the amalgamation in 1910.
¥°. 1. 3. Response
After Shilla united Goguryeo and Baekje and the Three Kingdoms Period ended in 668, the Korean Peninsula remained largely unified. The upper boundary line altered from time to time, but the people on the land started to feel a community sentiment. From the influence of Confucian teachings, the common people thought highly of values such as filial duty or loyalty to the king, which strengthened the single consciousness. Although that sense was different from the modern day nationalism, the people were bound by common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and history.
This vague sense of unity developed into a substance in the process of modernization. After opening the port, first to America in 1871, missionaries were allowed to come to Korea if their objective is either medicine or education. Missionary schools were established, most notably Baejae Hakdang and Iwha Hakdang. Students going to missionary schools mostly focused on learning English. As the level of education was very basic, and at that time the most important refinement was still Confucianism, such missionary schools were not very popular for long-term schools. The missionaries lacked Korean skills, which caused a serious problem in giving lessons. Most students quit after several months of learning basic English. They had to teach Confucianism and Chinese characters as well.
The purpose of missionary schools, of course, was to raise Korean missionaries/educators to foster Christianity and western ideologies. Most of the Korean teachers in those schools were from the same school, most of who aimed at raising fighters of national independence. Work together, different purposes- but the two groups compromised. The white missionaries focused on Christianity, and while many of them felt compassion towards the mistreatment of Imperial Japan towards Korean citizens, their prime importance was on keeping the school going and spreading Christianity. Thus they tried not to provoke the Japanese government. It was the Korean intellects that went to such schools and studied abroad who provoked fierce ideological fight.
With important events such as 1876 force open-door, agrarian revolt, Sino-Japanese war of 1894~1895, and Russo-Japanese war of 1904~1905, change forces started to develop not among the bureaucrats, but among the Korean intellects. Ideologies such as civilization and enlightenment, social Darwinism, nationalism, and liberalism flew in, especially through Japan. Donghak, the new native religion mentioned above, was founded in this chaos of ideologies as a way to protect our own. Korean intellectuals traveled to Japan, China and even further; newspapers and magazines introduced the various ideologies and opened the ground for controversy.
The Korean government systematically encouraged people to learn English. The influence of such schools got stronger, aware of needs for social reform. People became more open-minded towards western philosophies and ideologies, including modern-day nationalism. All of this established the basic foundation for the modern national identity and the power to counter the Japanese colonial ideologies.
¥°. 2. Civilization Enlightenment Theory (1897~1919)
¥°. 2. 1. Ideology
By the time of the collapse of Joseon Dynasty, as in any dying country, the society was in a chaos. Public order was broken, people were confused, and no one knew what to do. With the outpouring of countercultures and foreign countries meddling in governmental affairs, the Korean people were becoming increasingly hostile towards foreign powers. The government officials were divided among themselves as to ally with which of the powers- China (Xing), Japan, Russia, and United States of America. A political upheaval (1884), an army rebellion (1882) and a peasants movement (1894) happened and failed, entangled with interests of foreign powers.
While the political upheaval was led by intellects, especially students who have studied abroad, who joined with Japanese government, the latter two was against the Japanese influence, against the Japanese meddling in Joseon¡¯s affairs. Especially, the peasants movement, called the Donghak Peasants Movement, was a rebellion from the bottom that united the people as one with a local religion called Donghak . The participants of Donghak Peasants Movement later became voluntary army against the Japanese, which cause further chaos. Ironically, because Joseon government relied on Japaense army to quell the rebellion, the influence of Japan in Joseon strengthened.
To soothe the social chaos and drive the foreign powers out of Joseon, Gojong, the king of Joseon, established the Korean Empire in 1897 . Now Gojong emperor announced that Korean Empire is an independent state with an absolute monarch and required that every foreign power stop meddling in the country¡¯s affairs. The title empire and the general motif of the reformation are thought to have come from the Meiji Reformation in Japan or absolute states of Europe in the 17th century. Gojong aimed to establish a modern capitalist state by accepting Western technology and science while re-establishing the traditional value systems of Joseon. He set up numerous companies, factories, banks, and public schools, especially technical institutions and reorganized the military system.
However, during the process of organizing the infrastructure, foreign countries had the opportunity to disseise even more rights and interests. What¡¯s more, because the reformation was a moderate one from the above that did not fundamentally challenge social structure, the chronic corruption schism among the bureaucracy prevailed. It was also a reactionary reform that went against the flow of democracy. In the end, the reform of 1897, called the Gwangmu Reform, was largely unsuccessful. Overall, Joseon failed to handle the newly established order of East Asia when China lost to Japan, and this left Joseon even more vulnerable to the pressure of Japan.
With that said, Japanese scholars and historians claimed that Joseon was a backward state that needed an outside force to lead it to a modern state. They said that Joseon failed to truly improve itself in the last five hundred years (after the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592) due to complacency and schism and that the people were left to suffer. Fukujawa Yukichi, most renowned scholar of Imperial Japan, culturally divided countries into three cateigories: civilized, half-developed, and barbaric. According to his theory, western powers were the civilized countries, Asia including Japan was half-developed, and the rest, such as Africa or Australia was barbaric. And among the Asian countries, Japan was the most developed due to the Meiji enlightenment policies and therefore held the responsibility to guide other Asian countries. This theory is closely related to Pan-Asianism, which says that Japan should be the leader of the confederate states of Asia against the western powers.
Fukuda Tokujo was a Japanese researcher and historian who studied Joseon. Like most other researchers, he claimed that Chosun hardly developed after the Imjin War, when the Japanese invaded Joseon in 1592. Holding the absolute domination of Neo-Confucianism, the deep-rooted faction politics, neglect of practical science, corruption of government officials, and the financial difficulties of the people, many scholars advocated the Joseon Stagnantism, saying that Chosun was as much as 1,000 years behind than Japan. This claim is called the Chosun Stagnancy Theory.
¡°Historical Research on international activities of Japanese people¡± by Japanese general affairs bureau describes Joseon before opening the port as following.
During the 500 years of Lee Dynasty, the mode of life and form of thought never changed. There were no improvements of production method, no changes in consuming patterns. Even though same criticism repeated, there was no self-reflection or reformation. Yangbans always dominate, the common people always submit, neo-Confucianism is always the golden rule, agriculture is always primitive, and the people always have to be content with the minimum living.
The above perception of stagnancy of Joseon society was a view that many Joseon researchers had. Shiho Hiroshi advocated that since capitalism of Joseon is only forced by the western powers and Japan, it lacks autonomy and independence. He also claimed that Joseon scholars are so into Confucianism that they are incapable of creating a new ideology.
According to Imperial Japan, if Joseon society is indeed stagnant, it should be rescued and given the grace of enlightenment so that it can be progressive again. Therefore, Japan is a savior that corrected the stagnancy and introduced modernization. Such stagnancy theories were one of the justifications of invading Korea.
Japan called for public peace and welfare of the people. Voluntary army against Japanese rule was very active in Joseon and Manchu. Moreover, because Korean Empire (country Gojong established in 1897) had always been the cause of trouble. By subjecting Korean Empire Japan, Japan would be establishing peace in and out of the land.
The ordinary people could feel that their lives got a lot worse than before. Combining with the traditional political identity that had come from the thousand years of staying as a unified country and taught Confucianism which emphasized allegiance to the country, people started to resist forcefully. The March First Independence Movement was the peak of such protests and resistance.
¥°. 2. 2. Policy
To the Japanese government at the time, Joseon people were subjects to save who were in ignorance and poverty. So Terauchi Masatake, then the third Resident-General of Joseon and the first governor-general of colonial Korea, put the relief of the poor as top priority of the newly established government. He required a bond issue worth 30,000,000 yen, a large portion of which was used in the general poor relief. He made an official proclamation on the day of announcing the annexation of Korea and Japan. The welfare sector included general policies like the following.
First, the people lack money. They suffer from flood damage every year, but they cannot even save money for a measure. There is no way to teach children except for village school reading and calligraphy. Furthermore, even though they want an improvement in agricultural production, there are no facilities to learn agricultural technologies. Therefore, it is an urgent priority to distribute a large amount of money in the welfare sector to begin improving the education, countermeasures against natural calamities, and agricultural production.
As for specific guidelines,
1. Because many Joseon people lost their jobs and even in famine, it is urgent to give a rest to the people.
2. Therefore unpaid land tax before 1908 will be exempted, and grain loaned before 1909 should be returned.
3. Land tax for this year (1910) will be reduced by 1/5.
4. 17,000,000 yen will be spent from state coffers for relief of the poor, education, and improving production.
Other than that, he spent 500,000 yen in education of the orphan, the blind, the mute, and the insane. He renewed the Kyungsung orphanage in 1911 and installed medical treatment center in it, which cost 3,000,000 yen. He also rewarded prize money to Joseon aristocrats or social benefactors. With all this welfare policies, he intended to curry favor with the Korean people and justify the Japanese colonialism. He repeatedly claimed that the annexation is ultimately beneficial to the Korean people.
However, unlike the official documents and propositions, Imperial Japan implemented military police system to the ordinary people and exploited the colony politically, economically, socially, and culturally. They blocked Korean from the basic political rights such as the freedom of press, publication, and assembly, and the land investigation business said to improve the agricultural production ended up confiscating most of the lands.
The Korean people had lived on the peninsula as a unified state for a thousand years after unification of Shilla. They had certain sense of community, a collective political identity that bonded them into one. The bond was strengthened during the Joseon era, the time of Confucianism, which emphasized allegiance to the country. In addition to that, the people were no fools; they knew, from the attitudes of the Japanese military police and governmnet officials, that the Japanese never worked for them, that the Japanese only sought their own interests. The dissatisfaction and conflict was growing. The March First Independence Movement was the zenith of such dissatisfaction and anti-Japanese sentiment. It involved not only intellectuals and students, but also peasants, factory workers, businessmen, and all other social classes. Nationwide scale the March First Independence Movement gave a shock to the Japanese government and triggered it to change the course of policies into more subtle way.
¥°. 2. 3. Response
Some Korean scholars agreed upon this theory, holding the Korean Empire Government directly responsible for pauperism in Korea. One of the most prominent groups with the same thoughts was the Iljinhoi. In 1904, Song Byeongjun, a Japanese army translator at the time, founded a pro-Jaapanese organization called the Iljinhoi. Its four doctrines were announced as 1. Respect to the royal family 2. Protection of lives and property of the people 3. Civic betterment 4. Organization of military and finance. Iljinhoi, getting an immense amount of money from the Japanese government, supported the Japanese government actively and the Ulsa agreement . It had its mouthpiece called the Kukmin Shinbo, and later, it played a large part in the abdication of Gojong.
Until the actual annexation in 1910, it continued to announce statements supporting the amalgamation. It held the Korean Empire government responsible for the poverty and confusion and claimed that only the annexation can bring forth happiness of the Korean people and industrial development. It carved the deeds of the Residency-General in relief of the welfare policies.
Most of the scholars, however, did not fall for the civilization enlightenment theory of Japan; they believed the potential of Korean people to develop independently. Among the numerous ideologies that were imported from the Western civilization, social Darwinism had a great influence on the Korean scholars. While in Europe social Darwinism set an order of rank between the races based on the level of civilization, in East Asia, social Darwinism became a more collective ideology that united the nation as a family, a fate of community that has to fight together in order to survive the vicious struggle for existence. This sense of social Darwinism in Korea was largely influenced by Japanese interpretation of the ideology, especially a scholar named Cato Hiroyuki who viewed nation, ethnicity, and race as a whole organic body. Ironically, this course of development ended in Joseon scholars bonding firmly with a common goal- to prolong the existence of our ethnicity.
However, Korean scholars at this period had a disagreement regarding how to define one ¡°group.¡± Pan-Asianists viewed the world situation as a competition between the White race and the Yellow race. They called for regional solidarity among the East Asian countries in order to resist the Western imperialism. On the other hand, nationalists viewed the world situation as a competition among all nations, especially a tug-of-war between imperialists and nationalists. They considered Japan, the Yellow race neighbor, as the biggest threat to the Korean nation. Such argument continued even after the amalgamation of 1910.
¥°. 3. Pan-Asian Theory (1894~1930)
¥°. 3. 1. Ideology
Due to the repetitive invasion from western powers, such as the invasion of France in 1866, America in 1871, and the Namyeongun tomb robbery, hostility against the West was high among the Asian countries, the power of which had been largely centered on China. Seeing the colonial rules western powers set on Africa, South America, and especially Ching, many Joseon people were afraid of their power and enlargement. Therefore, there was a common sentiment among the Asian countries that they should keep their culture and spirit high. Long years of Confucianism intensified the pride. When the Imperial Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, many Joseon people were delighted on Japan¡¯s behalf. They believed that Japan showed off the potential of Asia and saw hope in that.
Historically, the center of East Asia had been China. The neighboring states and minority groups, including Joseon, had been either a tributary state or oppressed. But that traditional order of rank was smashed into pieces when crushingly defeated by England in the Opium Wars. To the anxious people, Japan established itself as the new leader and representative of the Asian block in the form of self defense. From this point on, some of the government officials of Japan dreamed of creating a country that brought all the Asia together.
Japan also considered itself as the Peacemaker of the East, a protector from the Western powers, and started meddling in the public order of neighboring countries, including Joseon. At that time, the public peace of Joseon was indeed low, with all the voluntary armies and foreign forces clashing with Japanese army one of them. The interference of Japan caused more trouble and schism, but on the outside they disguised as peacemakers.
After the annexation of Korea, Pan-Asianism became much more sophisticated and complex. Japan insisted that all East Asians share a common historical, cultural legacy. According to Mark Peattie, Japanese assimilation policy was based on the belief that
1. DongmundongjongÔÒÙþÔÒðú- there is a cultural, racial proximity within the Chinese cultural area
2. Under the tradition of Chinese Confucianism, there is a common moral tone.
3. There is an unbreakable bond between the Japanese emperor and the country.
4. The historical experiences of Japan assigned it an ability to assimilate foreigners and foreign thoughts.
After the March First Independence Movement, Japanese people had to rethink the military rule. They realized the need to combine the native Korean culture to the assimilation policy as to suit the unified political identity of Korea . Therefore, the Japanese government general underwent a serious systematic reform, installing the education and management bureau and religion department and investigation of national treasure department under it. These new departments were designed to investigate the custom, culture, tradition, ceremony, religion, and institutions of Korea and provide a scientific foundation for the Korea-Japan Unison Theory later on.
Based on investigations of Korean culture, Japan declared that ¡°although their level of civilization was low, Koreans could become subjects of Imperial Japan under Japanese protection¡± because ¡°Koreans had the superior elements of the Yellow race. Their current decadence is all due to incapable government and limited geographical features.¡± Such asserts were aimed to prove that Koreans and Japanese are in the same race, that Korea belonged to a bigger community of East Asia, and thereby justify the Japanese assimilation policy.
Pan-Asianism was a different form of racism that, by calling different races as one, forced different people to unitarily assimilate into Japanese culture. It developed into the claim that Korea and Japan share a common ancestor that originated from the Jingu Mythology. In the end, it evolved into Japan-Korea unison Theory.
¥°. 3. 2. Policy
The First Sino-Japanese war and Russo-Japanese war were all part of the grandiose plan of Japan of establishing a comprehensive Asian empire. Through the Sino-Japanese war, Japan established itself as the strongest among the Asian countries and gained the championship. Winning the war confirmed the supremacy of Japan in seizing Joseon, and Japan accepted Liaotung peninsula, Taiwan, and Penghu Island as the spoils of war. However, to keep the new strong state in check and for Russia to enter Manchu, Russia, France, and Germany interfered to block the Japanese from getting the Liaotung peninsula.
With China eliminated from the pool of competitors for Joseon and Manchu, Japan had to face Russia. At that time, the end of 20th century, Western powers were striving to divide the pillaged rights and interests from China, and in the process, they were divided into two groups: England and America; Russia, France, and Germany. Japan wanted to participate in seizing the interests of China but failed. As the relationship between Russia and Japan was getting worse, they tried to negotiate a treaty, but as Japan allied with England in 1902, their relation was aggravated. Russia vigorously plunged into the interests of Manchu and Joseon, and in the end, the Russo-Japanese war broke out.
The fighting ground was the East of China, including the Liaotung peninsula and Manchu, and Japan barely won on land, unlike the navy, which was much stronger. Although the Japanese won, they had to suffer a serious loss of population and money and were left unable to continue the war. As for Russia, countless rebellions and uprisings, including the Bloody Sunday, were knocking over the country. Therefore, when the other western countries urged the two countries to negotiate a peace treaty, neither of them could resist. In their check, Japan could hardly get anything from the treaty except for domestic advance to southern Manchu and Joseon. The Treaty of Portsmouth and the Katsura-Taft Agreement confirmed Japanese priority on Joseon. This victory of Japan shocked the world, and some Asian states welcomed this victory as a model for Asian excellence. This war did not get Japan much practical rewards, but it functioned as a bridgehead for the Pan-Asianism and establishment of the Japanese Empire.
The Government General promised to respect and honor the Korean traditions after March 1919, changed the military police into ordinary police, expanded the opportunities for education, and approved publication of national newspapers. However, the actual number of police increased, and the press had to go through strict censorship. Japanese government tried to foster the younger generation into pro-Japanese figures.
¥°. 3. 3. Response
Although Korean scholars and reformists generally agreed on the social Darwinist world view, they differed regarding the basic unit of the survival struggle, the solution of the national crisis, and the view of imperialism, especially Japan. One group of scholars believed that the world situation is a competition between White race and Yellow race, and they valued the solidarity and collaboration among the East Asian countries, most notably China and Japan. They were called the Pan-Asianists. On the other hand, others, called the nationalists, viewed the world as a time of Imperialism and required a strong nationalism to protect the people from outside forces. They felt Japan was dangerous since Japan too had an imperial ambition.
Pan-Asianists regarded race as the new identity of Korean people. The concept ¡°race¡± was sometimes ambiguous, but it was generally limited, referring to mostly China, Japan, and Korea only. This concept was directly influenced by the experience of being a subject state to China for near a thousand years. And as neo-Confucianism that had prevailed in China and Korea regarded the other races such as Mongols as mere barbarians, many people refused to see other minority groups of Asia as the same race.
They largely believed that only by combining the forces of all three countries they can resist the pressure of Western powers. Ahn Gyeong-su asserted in Nihonjin that if the three countries do not unite, Asia will surrender to the White race. He proposed that the three countries form an alliance that protects each other. Because the Korean people had lived believing that China is the center of the world, the most superior of all countries and that Korea is right below, they were genuinely shocked when China was defeated by England. They in turn turned to Japan for protection of the East Asian superiority. They still did not get out of the sense of superiority and showed deep-rooted racial prejudice.
They dreamed of a world where solidarity of Asian countries prevailed as it had, with three countries in equal status. Seeing the Japanese defeating Russia, the white race Koreans showed utmost contempt, some Korean scholars viewed Japan as a country that could lead Korea to an entirely different level. They even insisted that Japan was a lot more advance than the neighboring countries and that it should lead solidarity of Asia.
However, nationalists refuted the insistence of Pan-Asianists, warning that Japan too is an Imperial state that has an eye on Korea any minute. And in 1905, with the Ulsa Agreement, Japan revealed its Imperial aspiration indeed. From that point on, Pan-Asianists in Korea could not get much support, although some of them continued to trust Japan as the leader of Korea and supported Japanese government.
¥°. 4. Japan-Korea Unison Theory (1931~1945)
¥°. 4. 1. Ideology
In 1931, Japan began the invasion of the Asian continent by invading Manchu . They wanted to colonize Manchu and make it produce key resources and military supplies. In March 1, 1932, the Kanto army established Manchukuo . China appealed against the invasion of Japan to the League of Nations, but Japan ignored the official suggestion of League of Nations and later withdrew from it.
In 1937, Japan carried out a full-scale attack on China under the pretext of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident without an official declaration of war. At first, Japan seized the opportunity and drove on without a stop; Japan captured the capital Nanjing within six months. Carried away in triumph, the Japanese army massacred more than 300,000 people of Nanjing. However, as Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of Nationalist Government of China, allied with the Communist Party led by Mao Zedong in opposition to Japanese army and anti-Japanese movement heightened, the war was protracted. As Japan was on war footing, the power of the army within the Japanese government strengthened, the law of general mobilization was passed in the parliament. It allowed any movement necessary to win the war without parliamentary approval. Fascism was growing in Japan.
As Japan was carrying a self-devouring war, it wanted to exploit as much as it can from its colonies, including Korea. Therefore, the governor-general of Korea accelerated the colonial policy of subjecting to Japan by indoctrinating loyalty to the Imperial Japan. In order to make it more effective, Japanese scholars elaborated the theory that the people of Japan of Korea are from the same origin into the theory that Japan and Korea are essentially the same people. Not only that, it called Korea as an extension of the mainland Japan and promised to invest the same rights as the mainland people.
The full-scale assimilation ideology began with history. Japan argued that historically, Korean and Japanese people had had a blood relationship for a long time. Therefore, in the blood of current Korean people, there is also the blood of Japanese people, and vice versa. As evidence for such claims, Japanese scholars announced various historical personages in Korea who are presumed to have come from Japan. For example, in the ancient Shilla, there was a premier name Hogong, who is said to have come from Japan with a gourd on his side. For another, the fourth king of Shilla Talhae, according to The Chronicles of the Three States, is from an ancient country called Dapana which was 400kim northeast of Japan. Japanese scholars assumed Dapana had been one of the Japanese islands. There is also a prince of Shilla named Cheonilchang or Cheonzhiilmo who is written that he crossed into Japan and naturalized into a country named Danma. They said that even Mimana Nihonfu, the legendary figure who is said to have conquered Gaya and Shilla, might have been Korean at first.
Next, a myth that the younger brother of progenitor of Japan is the progenitor of ancient Korea was purposely widespread: a myth that Japanese progenitor Amaterasu Omikami¡¯s little brother Susano:no Mikoto descended on Korea to become the progenitor. This story was so widespread, whether it was believed or not, that it almost became a common sense. Japanese scholars claimed that since Susano is the originator of Korea, Korea and Japan are the same people. Therefore, Koreans should be grateful for the grace of the Japanese Emperor just like Japanese. This theory is also called the Joseon-Japan Common Ancestral Theory .
¥°. 4. 2. Policy
At this time, the governor-general of Korea was a man named Minami Jiro . While his predecessor called for reconciliation of the two nations, he called for union of Korea and Japan. He wanted to thoroughly brainwash the Korean people into subjects of Imperial Japan. In July 1938, he launched a new control ground called the Joseon League for National Spiritual Mobilization. He said that the ultimate goal of the new league is to make Koreans truly loyal subjects of Imperial Japan, true Japanese. Also, he mentioned that Korea would be a commissary base for advance of the Japanese Empire. It was stated in the government general official document that this Joseon League for National Spiritual Mobilization did not include political activities; it only require unilateral service from the Koreans.
By this time, the relationship between Koreans and Japanese was the worst. Koreans thought of Japanese as ¡®capitalist aggressor and vampire¡¯ and a ¡®mortal enemy¡¯ and called them Owenom, a derogatory term that had existed for ages. Therefore, the prior task of the government general was to make Koreans feel like they are Japanese. They demanded shrine worship, forced people to use Japanese language and Japanese name , made them recite the Oath of Subjects of Japanese Empire , and distorted history.
¥°. 4. 3. Response
In response to the assimilation ideologies, Korean nationalists tried to enhance the spirit of Korean people by emphasizing the common history, language, culture, and religion. As for history, they cited a legendary founding father of Gojoseon, Dangun. The stories of his founding were only in a single historical text called The Heritage of the Three States, so many Japanese scholars denied his existence or even asserted that Dangun actually refers to Susano Mikoto. Still, along with the stories of several great historical Korean men such as admiral Yi Sun-shin, Gwon Yul, and Uijimundeok, the myth of Dangun helped prove the uniqueness and greatness of Korean people and preserve the racial spirit.
Nationalism and Pan-Asianism both tried to challenge the colonial ideology and policies, but there were certain limits. Both ideologies remained mostly cultural, historical, and rhetorical; neither of them had the actual political power to lead to national independence.
¥°. 5. Summary
Japanese assimilation ideology of Korea started with opinions of the minority extreme rights who called for Imperialism. However, as the Meiji Reformation remarkably succeeded and Japan successfully transformed into an industrial country, it came to have strong military power, which gave the extreme right/fascism wings. Intoxicated with the joy of victory in the series of wars, Japanese officials lost their mind and gave over to indiscrete expansion, exploitation, and feeling of superiority. Japan began to believe that among the Asian countries, they were the best and that other countries should follow not only their footsteps, but also their culture and loyalty to the Japanese Emperor.
It was this conceit that blocked them from efficient colonial rule. Even though they knew how assimilation of French colonies failed and some Japanese scholars warned that the national identity composed of common language, culture, history, and religion would not be annihilated easily, the Japanese government firmly believed that they were different, their culture was superior enough.
The assimilation ideology got more and more complicated and delicate as time passed, with numerous, sometimes manipulated or invalid, evidences to prove their theory. As public schools indoctrinated the Korean kids from a little age that they were subjects of the Japanese Empire, eventually pro-Japanese brainwashed subjects appeared.
However, the process was extremely slow and inefficient as the Japanese government showed almost little effort to keep its promises; the pride and self-conceit blinded them. While they called for welfare of the people, the Japanese police actually plundered and suppressed the people. While they claimed that Korea was an extension of the Japanese mainland, that there was no essential difference between the two, they did not give Koreans any practical rights; they only dumped responsibilities such as military service and tax. Discrimination was obvious. This discordance between words and actions aroused only more animosity among Koreans.
It should be noted that the Japanese government repeatedly promised to give Koreans the equal right once they become truly Japanese. The reason discrimination exists, they said, is that Koreans are not equal to Japanese yet. Some people fell for the words. And as time passed, Japanese government did indeed give rights to Koreans. For example, in 1945, the process to give Koreans a sit in the Japanese parliament was ongoing. As for whether or not such policies would have worked, it would never be known, but the case of Okinawa could be a reference.
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