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Power and Primacy

A History of Western Intervention in the Asia-Pacific

A.B. Abrams

Today the Asia-Pacific region stands on the verge of major change, with centuries of western dominated regional order being seriously challenged and quite possibly nearing its end. The emergence of a potential new order dominated by regional rather than extra-regional powers - an «Asia for the Asiatics» in the words of Japan’s pan-Asian scholars - means it is now more than ever essential to understand the history of the current western-dominated system, the full implications should it continue and the nature of the West’s intentions towards the region.

This book undertakes the task of elucidating the complex and little-known history of western intervention in the Asia-Pacific, providing information critical to understanding contemporary developments

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Chapter 1: Japanese Empire: The Rise and Fall of Asia’s First Independent Industrial Power and How It Undermined Western Hegemony in the Pacific


Chapter 1

Japanese Empire: The Rise and Fall of Asia’s First Independent Industrial Power and How It Undermined Western Hegemony in the Pacific

Eastern peoples were, for the greater part, still subject to racial instincts and inferiority complexes. The Japanese slogan ‘Asia for the Asiatics,’ might easily destroy the carefully constructed basis of our cultural synthesis … Japanese injuries and insults to the White population – and these were already being perpetrated by the detestable Asiatic Huns- would irreparably damage white prestige unless severely punished within a short time.1

— Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy, Dutch Prime Minister

So far and wide have the roots of Japanese victory spread that we cannot now visualize all the fruit it will put forth. The people of the East seem to be waking up from their lethargy.2

— Mohandas Ghandi on the impact of Japan’s military successes

Imperial Japan in a Western Dominated Regional Order

Since Western powers first came to dominate the Asia-Pacific region in the sixteenth century, racial stereotyping and perceptions among Westerners of Asian races as inferiors came hand in hand with military occupation and colonial rule. The British Empire in its occupation of Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia and parts of China, condescendingly referred to Asian peoples as the ‘little yellow men.’ Their attitude to the so called ‘yellow race’ was in many ways similar to that of other Western imperial powers in their own military involvement in the region. A great...

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