Meiji Restoration Thesis

Meiji Restoration Thesis-89
Each successive assault on China’s perceived centre-of-gravity met with a measure of tactical success, but never a strategic outcome.

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It is this aspect of Japan’s emerging grand strategy that many of Abe’s critics have missed as they focus on the seeming links to Japan’s predatory prewar strategy.

But, as Paine emphasizes, Japan’s prewar strategy was flawed precisely because it had shifted away from a maritime focus.

Each of the conflicts began with a surprise attack before a formal declaration of war (something planners at the Naval War College warned about in the decades before Pearl Harbor).

Each of the conflicts aimed at overturning the regional balance of power by replacing China, then Russia, and then the United States as the dominant regional power.

The great strength of —situating the evolution of Japanese grand strategy in the geopolitics of Northeast Asia and applying a grand strategy test to each conflict—may also be the source of the few weaknesses in the volume.

Paine describes the book as an effort to “turn inside out” her previous work on Imperial Russia and China, and a welcome contribution that is.captures the rise and fall of Japanese maritime strategy over time while applying a critical template to Japanese grand strategy in each of the separate wars between 18.One can imagine how this would suit the Naval War College curriculum perfectly, but professors of history and international relations will also find it useful in their own graduate and undergraduate courses on East Asia.Each conflict also produced a new enemy as imperial rivals were dispatched.And each conflict profoundly changed the balance of power within Japan.Paine takes the reader through this evolution with a clarity and cadence that make the book hard to put down.One cannot help but think of the perils maritime powers have always faced in continental wars, from the invasion of Sicily by Athens to the Vietnam War.In a tightly argued 187-page monograph, she has arguably done something more useful for the general student of global history and international relations, and that is to place an earlier and more tragic era of Japanese grand strategy into a context that has obvious if unspoken implications for East Asia today.As Paine notes in the final line of the conclusion, Japan and her neighbours have yet to overcome the consequences of the wars from 1894 to 1945. Paine of the Naval War College builds on her well-regarded books on Imperial Russia and China to complete her tryptic on the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century grand strategies of Northeast Asia with this compelling short study of Imperial Japan.However, what Paine brings is a fresh comparative treatment at a time when echoes of past imperial rivalries are again shaping the international relations of East Asia.

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