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Why did Japan fail to become the “Britain” of Asia?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines Japanese strategic thinking after the Russo-Japanese War. After defining Japan's postwar strategic environment, it identifies two contrasting schools of strategic thought, and then reveals the actual Japanese strategic posture set by the Meiji leaders. The chapter presents several hypotheses to explain why the Japanese behaved so differently after 1905 in comparison with the British, one hundred years earlier, after their major naval victory in 1805. With less than forty years between the Meiji Restoration and the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, the leaders of the Japanese Government regarded its foundation as a modern state as far from safe, let alone robust. Japan's naval buildup after Tsushima marks a sharp contrast with British attitudes after Trafalgar. The Royal Navy consisted of wooden sailing ships. The German and the United States navies were practically non-existent until rather late in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: British; Japan; Meiji leaders; Meiji Restoration; Royal Navy; Russo-Japanese War; Trafalgar; Tsushima; United States



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