Essay by Sarah1991High School, 11th gradeB-, February 2008

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Examine the reasons why Japan embarked on an aggressive, militaristic foreign policy and assess the extent to which this was successful in the first half of the 20th century.While the roots of Japanese militarism were planted with the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that Japan really embarked upon their aggressive foreign policy and emerged as a new world power. While the five reasons for Japanese militarism all played important roles in its rise, their significance varied throughout the years. The militaristic attitude that was adopted by the Japanese in regard to its foreign policy was successful to a point, winning them control of vast amounts of land and allowing them to emerge as a new world power. Ultimately, however, it ended in disaster, with Japan being forced to surrender and coming out of World War II as an occupied country.

Up until 1905, with the end of the Russo-Japanese War, the two most important factors that were motivation the Japanese in their militaristic policy were their aspiration for western-style imperialism and their concerns for their safety and security. Japan wanted to join the western powers, but knew that before this could happen, they needed to modernise and strengthen their military. Despite the fact that Japan had won the Sino-Japanese war in 1894-95, they were still forced to submit to the terms of the Triple Intervention, where France, Germany and Russia demanded that they give up the Liaotung Peninsula in exchange for thirty million taels. Japan, realising that they were still weak and did not measure up to the western powers, increased their military spending. When Japan saw the technological advancement and the power of the western military and navy, they had fears of invasion by a country...