Expansionism in Japan and the U.S.by Rit Nosotro
Compare Japan's expansionist ideas with those of the United States.
The strongly contrasting results of expansionism in Japan and the United States were a direct consequence of the ideologies which brought about growth.
Expansionism justified by social Darwinism brought on World Wars of the 20th century. Japan's conquest was supported by a religion of emperor worship and led to horrific brutality against people in the area conquered by Japan. American expansionism was supported by the purpose of freeing people from unjust rule under the yoke of Spain and Mexico. Although abuses against minorities and over those conquered take place wherever man has the power to do so, the restraining forces of Christianity brought about treaties and payment for expanded territories.
Herbert Spencer authored a modern view similar to the Roman "might makes right." When Darwin published his theories Spencer quickly added the natural selection doctrine of "Survival of the fittest" to his ethical theories. Spencer then applied his ethics to the realm of nations. Colonialism was not wrong at all, reasoned Spencer, because natural selection works when the people with better genes conquer, thus Social Darwinian ethics justified oppressing and seizing lands from the "unfit" to encourage the spread and evolution of the "fit". The horrible applications of these ideas can be seen in the Nazi eugenics program.1
Following Commodore Matthew Perry's 1854 visit to force open trade relations with Japan, a power struggle began that culminated in 1868 when the feudalist Tokowaga forces surrendered to the combined "royalists" forces that ushered in the Meiji era and ended Japanese feudalism. Ending feudalism created the united Japan that was necessary for imperialistic movement. This was a time of experimentation, where rapid changes in government took place in Japan.2 Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinist ethics became popular in Japan. The "survival of the fittest" created a kill or be killed mentality. A country was either an imperialist nation with colonies, or the colonizers oppressed it. Japan wanted to succeed, so it rushed toward imperialistic power.3
Japanese brutality in its expansionism is explained by their religious beliefs. They believed they were unable to do any wrong because they were direct descendants of the gods and were mandated to master the world. The emperor was their chief god on earth. This racist attitude towards the rest of the world created the hatred necessary for massive war, and the perceived inability to do wrong allowed Japanese to commit atrocities without a thought to guilt. To surrender to the enemy was the greatest disgrace and would have great consequences when the Japanese soldier joined his ancestor's. The greatest honor was to die for the emperor.4 The indoctrination of Japanese soldier with these ideas created the zealous self-sacrifice that fueled Japanese kamikazes and brutality, such as the Bataan Death March of 1942.
". . . The Japanese soldier was taught during his first year of service that his mundane life was already forfeited to the Emperor; that to die for the Emperor was his greatest glory, to surrender his greatest disgrace. But during his second year, he was taught that merely to commit suicide and die before killing the enemy was also a disgrace; and that he should follow the Samurai code, which taught that even when the head had been chopped off, the head should still jump up and sink its teeth into the throat of the enemy. And this teaching, inculcated into an unreasoning mind accustomed to depend for guidance an authoritative precepts, were further drilled into him by a grueling training in peace-time and licensed savagery in war-time" Tokyo Record, p. 156 5American Expansion
Compared to Japan, the United States expanded almost reluctantly. It was an unexpected offer from France that doubled the size of the United States. Following Napoleon's 1803 sale of the Louisiana Territory, President Jefferson was quick to send out the Lewis and Clark expedition. Subsequent settlement beginning in the 1840s laid claim to the Oregon Territory and pushed out other contenders. In 1821 Mexico successfully revolted against Spain and took control over what lands that would later become Texas and California.
Mexico was ill prepared to receive Spanish claimed lands along her northern border. Many American settlers did not like Mexico telling them they had to become Roman Catholic to live in Mexico's territories. Mexico's political instability led her to refuse the US offer to purchase the lands. Texans successfully rebelled against Santa Anna in 1836 and was granted US statehood by 1846. War broke out with Mexico over a border dispute and Mexico lost 40% of its territory to the United States.
The former Japanese zeal for imperialism belittles the American "manifest destiny" expansion. John L. O'Sullivan, a New York editor, coined this phrase in 1845, saying "It was the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly expanding millions." "Manifest destiny" comprises a belief that God had given all the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the U.S. government to conquer.6
In 1848 gold was discovered in California, and in 1869 the transcontinental railroad was completed. By the 1890's most of the land was settled.7 The imperialism performed by the Japanese requires a racist mentality to inspire hatred against the enemy. American expansion was to spread an "empire of liberty", as Thomas Jefferson said, not to conquer the world. This was not to say that American expansionism in the West was free of flaws and mistreatments at the hands of wicked men. But even in the resettlement of Native Americans, following the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that allowed Jackson to brutally push out Indians from east of the Mississippi, the best desire of many Americans was that the Indians would live in Christian communities with schools and medical services.
During the Spanish-American war America began to show the signs of imperialism. Evolution taught that Anglo-Saxons were more highly "evolved" then other humans, and so it was their duty to help the less evolved countries.8 Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana said in 1898, "We are Anglo-Saxons, and must obey our blood and occupy new markets, and if necessary new lands. We go forth to fight for humanity... In the name of the mighty minds of every party and of every English-speaking land..., we welcome the golden dawn of the republic's full-grown manhood. . ." The Spanish-American war was set in motion when the ship the Maine was destroyed, and the U.S. accused Spain of blowing it up.9 There was public pressure to free Cuba from the brutality of Spanish rule and help the Cuban independence fighters.10 In the one-sided war the U.S. absorbed many of Spain's colonies including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Although the extent of this imperialism is questionable, Spanish colonies were seized to set them free, not to exploit them.
Expansionism rationalized by ideas like Darwinism and Shinto's teaching that Japan's emperor descended from the sun goddess, yields horrific results. These ideas exalt man to the status of God, and attempt to dethrone the true God. When a nation does not follow Biblical principles it results in terrible events, exemplified by the Japanese Rape of Nanking in 1937-38 that was a genocide leading to 300,000 civilian deaths, and Hitter's systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews. However, Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor pulled the USA into a devastating war against the Japanese aggressions which had risen from their false religion. God used the USA to demystify the emperor and allow Japan the freedom to choose Christianity, which it freely rejected.
The most amazing thing about the expansionism of the USA was that it created a nation strong enough to put an end to Nazi and Japanese aggression. Furthermore it supported the establishment of the tiny nation of Israel and even brought about the collapse of atheistic communism in the former USSR. It was not coincidentally that French, Spanish, and Mexican incompetence more than doubled the size of the United States and the discovery of gold filled its new boundaries. Nor was it due to any innate greatness of wisdom or power on the part of the United States that led it from sea to shining sea. Acts 17:26-27 declares, "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."
1Thinkquest: "Social Darwinism" library.thinkquest.org/C004367/eh4.shtml
2Perez, Louis G. The history of Japan Westport: Greenwood Press, New York: Warner Books Inc. 1999
3Perez, Louis G. The history of Japan Westport: Greenwood Press,. New York: Warner Books Inc. 1999
6Richard J. Maybury World War 1 Placerville, CA Bluestock Press, 2002
7Richard J. Maybury World War 1 Placerville, CA Bluestock Press, 2002
8Clarence B. Carson. The Growth of America 1878-1928 Pheniz City, American Textbook Committee, 2001
9Richard J. Maybury World War 1 Placerville, CA Bluestock Press, 2002
10Clarence B. Carson.
The Growth of America 1878-1928 Pheniz City, American Textbook Committee,
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