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Wartime Wilsonianism and the Crisis of Empire, 1941–43

  • JEREMY A. YELLEN (a1)
Abstract

One striking feature of the Pacific War was the extent to which Wilsonian ideals informed the war aims of both sides. By 1943, the Atlantic Charter and Japan's Pacific Charter (Greater East Asia Joint Declaration) outlined remarkably similar visions for the postwar order. This comparative study of the histories surrounding both charters highlights parallels between the foreign policies of Great Britain and Imperial Japan. Both empires engaged with Wilsonianism in similar ways, to similar ends. Driven by geopolitical desperation, both reluctantly enshrined Wilsonian values into their war aims to survive a gruelling war with empire intact. But the endorsement of national self-determination, in particular, gave elites in dependent states a means to protest the realities of both British and Japanese rule and to demand that both empires practise what they preach. This comparative analysis of Britain and Japan thus sheds light on the part Wilsonian ideology played in the global crisis of empire during the Second World War.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Footnotes
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I would like to thank Andrew Gordon and the anonymous readers for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this article. The work described in this paper was partially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. CUHK 24610615). It was made open access through a generous grant from a Chinese University of Hong Kong publication subvention fund.

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References
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1 The best scholarship on the topic can be found in Sumio, Hatano, Taiheiyō sensō to Ajia gaikō (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1996), 161244. Other excellent works include Iriye, A., Power and Culture: The Japanese-American War, 1941–1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), 112–21; Toshie, Yasuda, ‘Dai tōa kaigi to dai tōa kyōdō sengen wo megutte’, Hōgaku kenkyū 63:2 (Feb. 1990), 369422; and Abel, J., The International Minimum: Creativity and Contradiction in Japan's Global Engagement, 1933–1964 (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2015), 194217. Authors of British and American international history, conversely, have tended to focus on the Atlantic Charter alone, in particular its influence on Anglo-American relations, decolonization, and the postwar revolution in human rights.

2 For representative works that deal with the Atlantic Charter, see Wilson, T. A., The First Summit: Roosevelt and Churchill at Placentia Bay, 1941 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969); Louis, W. R., Imperialism at Bay, 1941–1945: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977); Thorne, C., Allies of a Kind: The United States, Britain, and the War Against Japan, 1941–1945 (London: H. Hamilton, 1978); Reynolds, D., The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance, 1937–1941: A Study in Competitive Co-operation (Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 1981); Brinkley, D. and Facey-Crowther, D. R., eds., The Atlantic Charter (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1994); and Borgwardt, E., A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human Rights (Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2005).

3 See War Cabinet Memorandum, 20 August 1941, CAB 121/149, The National Archives of the UK (henceforth TNA); see also Churchill, W. S., The Second World War, Vol. 3 (London: Cassell, 1955), 385.

4 The full text can be found in Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers, 1941, Vol. 1 (Washington, 1958), 368. Henceforth, all volumes in this series will be referred to as FRUS. See also The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy at Yale Law School, ‘Atlantic Charter’, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/atlantic.asp (accessed 24 October 2018). British Permanent Undersecretary for the Foreign Office Sir Alexander Cadogan wrote the first draft at Churchill's insistence. Cadogan did so on 10 August, after his first discussion with US State Department Under Secretary Sumner Welles.

5 Sir Churchill, W. S., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, Vol. 6 (New York: Chelsea House, 1974), 6473.

6 Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. 3, 394.

7 See D. Reynolds, ‘The Atlantic “Flop”: British Foreign Policy and the Churchill-Roosevelt Meeting of August 1941’, in Brinkley and Facey-Crowther, eds., The Atlantic Charter, 129–50. The quotation is found on p. 135.

8 Haggie, P., Britannia at Bay: The Defence of the British Empire against Japan, 1931–1941 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 202. The British chiefs of staff noted that they ‘neither expected nor achieved startling results’. This owed to their recognition that the United States of America remained unprepared for war and focused only on ‘the defence of the Western Hemisphere’. See ‘British-American Chiefs of Staff Discussions, 9–12 August 1942’, CAB 121/49, TNA.

9 Reconstruction File No. 5. FO 371/50659, TNA. Also quoted in Thorne, Allies of a Kind, 102.

10 International law scholar Edwin Borehard saw the Atlantic Charter as ‘eight platitudes’. See T. A. Wilson, ‘The First Summit: FDR and the Riddle of Personal Diplomacy’, in Brinkley and Facey-Crowther, eds., The Atlantic Charter, 19. For the human rights impact of the charter, see Elizabeth Borgwardt, A New Deal for the World.

11 Wm. Roger Louis called the third clause ‘perhaps the most explosive principle of all’. See Louis, Imperialism at Bay, 123.

12 Reynolds, ‘The Atlantic “Flop”’, 146.

13 Pressnell, L. S. and Hopkins, S. V., ‘A Canard Out of Time? Churchill, the War Cabinet, and the Atlantic Charter, August 1941’, Review of International Studies 14:3 (Jul. 1988), 223–35.

14 14 August 1941 diary entry, Amery, L., The Empire at Bay: The Leo Amery Diaries 1929–1945 (London: Hutchinson, 1988), 710, henceforth referred to as The Leo Amery Diaries.

15 This nationalism was championed by an emergent ethnic Burmese middle class—a group who felt besieged by Indian immigration and dependence on Indian capital and hoped for a constitutional advance, whether in the form of outright independence or Dominion status. Other ethnicities across Burma (especially in Upper Burma) did not share this fierce political nationalism.

16 Maw, Ba, Breakthrough in Burma (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), 49.

17 For a good understanding of U Saw, see Taylor, Robert H., ‘Politics in Late Colonial Burma: The Case of U Saw’, Modern Asian Studies, 10:2 (1976), 161–93.

18 Leo Amery believed that U Saw worked primarily for the interest of U Saw. He wrote that Saw is ‘intensely ambitious’ and aimed to ‘become a dictator in Burma’ in the wake of complete self-government. See 11 October 1941 diary entry, The Leo Amery Diaries, 738. Similar arguments were made against Ba Maw.

19 D. H. Guyot, ‘The Political Impact of the Japanese Occupation of Burma’ (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1966), 22; J. Bečka, ‘The National Liberation Movement in Burma During the Japanese Occupation Period, 1941–1945’, Dissertationes Orientales, Vol. 42 (Prague: Oriental Institute in Academia, 1983), 54. See also Taylor, R. H., ‘Burma in the Anti-Fascist War’, in McCoy, A. W., ed., Southeast Asia Under Japanese Occupation (New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, 1980), 163.

20 Ba Maw, Breakthrough in Burma, 62–63.

21 Maung, U Maung, Burmese Nationalist Movements, 1940–1948 (Edinburgh: Kiscadale Publications, 1989), 17; Cady, J., A History of Modern Burma (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1958), 416.

22 Butwell, R., U Nu of Burma (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1963), 33.

23 Taken from Extract from the Proceedings of the First House of Representatives, Volume VII, No. 7, at a Meeting Held on Friday, the 23rd February 1940, 16. In Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/1112, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections, British Library (henceforth BL). See also Burma Office Records, IOR: M/5/19, BL.

24 U Tun Aung took this from Wells, H. G., Travels of a Republican Radical in Search of Hot Water (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 1939), 85. U Tun Aung's statement can be found in IOR: M/3/1112, BL, and in Ba Maw, Breakthrough in Burma, 77–78.

25 Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/897, BL. This is also described in Ba Maw, Breakthrough in Burma, 94–102.

26 ‘Policy in Burma’ (May 1945 War Cabinet Report), Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/1573, BL.

27 See Dorman-Smith Papers, Mss EUR E.215.32A, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections, BL.

28 According to Leo Amery, British confidential reports highlighted that U Saw's chief interests were ‘drink, pretty ladies and, above all, U Saw’. See Leo Amery, 11 October 1941 diary entry, The Leo Amery Diaries, 738. See also IOR: M/3/1113, BL, for British reports on Saw.

29 U Saw, ‘Self Government in Burma’, The Times, 16 October 1941.

30 The first statement was made by on 1 November 1929, by the Governor General of India on behalf of the British government. Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/733 and IOR: M/3/734, BL.

31 Of course, the resolution was weakened by phrases like ‘as soon as practicable’ and ‘in so far as it is possible in the immediate present’. See Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/730, BL.

32 CO 54/973/15, TNA.

33 FRUS, 1941, 3: 182. See also Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/734, BL.

34 See Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/732, BL. In his 4 November statement, Amery qualified the offer of eventual Dominion status by stating ‘it is out of the way to give a categorical assurance of such a nature as might result in gross misunderstanding and disappointment’, The Times, 5 November 1941.

35 Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/734, BL.

36 U Saw in a press interview on 3 November 1941. See Papers of Sir John Clague, Mss E.252.45, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections, BL. See also Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/733, BL; The Times, 4 November 1941; and FRUS, 1941, 3: 183.

37 Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/732, BL. For Churchill's statement, see IOR: M/3/18, BL.

38 Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/1113, BL.

39 Bayly, C. and Harper, T., Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941–1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 103.

40 ‘U Saw's Bet’, Time, 26 January 1942, Vol. 39, Issue 4. See also ‘The Devil We Know’, New York Times, 20 January 1942.

41 FRUS, 1941, 3: 183.

42 Taylor, ‘Politics in Late Colonial Burma’, 190; Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/1111, BL.

43 After his detention, U Saw continued to deny any wrongdoing. He protested that he sought out the Japanese consul to ask him ‘to look after Burmese students in Tokyo’. See FO 371/31776 and PREM 4/50/2, TNA. British records state that ‘Saw's statements of his visit to the Japanese Consul at Lisbon and his movements at San Francisco are unconvincing’. See Private Office Papers of Sir Anthony Eden, Earl of Avon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, FO 954/1B/474, TNA.

44 British authorities kept him imprisoned (without trial) to maintain secrecy over the fact that they had cracked Japanese diplomatic codes. See PREM 4/50/2, TNA. Tin Tut, however, was cleared of any wrongdoing and eventually made his way back to the Burmese government in exile in Simla.

45 R. Dorman-Smith to L. S. Amery, 17 October 1944, IOR: L/PO/9/7 (ii), Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections, BL.

46 Dorman-Smith Papers, ‘Unfinished Memoirs’, 186, Mss Eur E.215.32b, BL.

47 ‘Legal Effect of the “Atlantic Charter”’, File U 232, FO 371/34349, TNA.

48 Amery to Dorman-Smith, 15 April 1943. Dorman-Smith Papers, Mss Eur E.215.3, BL.

49 FO 371/50778, TNA.

50 ‘Burmese are Seen as Unwilling Ally’, The Japan Times and Advertiser, 3 November 1941.

51 See, for instance, Thompson, V., ‘What U Saw Saw in Japan’, Far Eastern Survey 11: 4 (23 Feb. 1942), 56.

52 Ba Maw, Breakthrough in Burma, 283–84.

53 File 4-1, Yoshida Zengo kankei monjo, National Diet Library, Japan (NDL).

54 Mamoru, Shigemitsu, Shigemitsu Mamoru: Gaikō ikenshoshū, Vol. 2: chū Ka taishi, gaimudaijin jidai (Tokyo: Gendai Shiryō Shuppan, 2007), 302.

55 Ibid., 119.

56 Ibid., 124.

57 Ibid., 268.

58 Ibid., 245–46.

59 Mamoru, Shigemitsu, Shōwa no dōran, Vol. 2 (Tokyo: Chūō Kōronsha, 1952), 171.

60 Mamoru, Shigemitsu, Shigemitsu Mamoru shuki, Vol. 2 (Tokyo: Chūō Kōronsha, 1988), 335.

61 Katsumi, Usui, ‘Gaimushō: hito to kikō’, in Chihiro, Hosoya, Makoto, Saitō, Sei'ichi, Imai, and Michio, Rōyama, eds., Nichi-Bei kankeishi: kaisen ni itaru 10-nen (1931-41-nen), Vol. 1: seifu shunō to gaikō kikan (Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 1971), 119–23.

62 Iriye, Power and Culture, 96–112.

63 Mamoru, Shigemitsu, Shigemitsu Mamoru shuki (Tokyo: Chūō Kōronsha, 1986), 321–23, 328–29. See also Takashi, Itō, Tadamitsu, Hirohashi, and Norio, Katashima, eds., Tōjō naikaku sōridaijin kimitsu kiroku (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1990), 175. Henceforth referred to as Tōjō naikaku sōridaijin kimitsu kiroku.

64 Kenshūjo, Bōeichō Bōei, Senshishitsu, Daihon'ei rikugunbu, Vol. 7 (Tokyo:, 1973), 361. Henceforth, all volumes in this series will be referred to as Daihon'ei rikugunbu.

65 Hajime, Sugiyama, Sugiyama memo: Daihon'ei seifu renraku kaigi tō hikki, Vol. 2 (Tokyo: Hara Shobō, 1967), 386–88; Takushirō, Hattori, Dai tōa sensō zenshi (Tokyo: Hara Shobō, 1965), 452; and ‘Kanpō’, Gōgai, 22 January 1942, NDL (http://teikokugikai-i.ndl.go.jp/ (accessed 24 October 2018)).

66 Takeshima Yoshinari, Nihon senryō to Biruma no minzoku undō: Thakin seiryoku no seijiteki jōshō (Tokyo: Ryūkei Shosha, 2003), 190–91. See also Hatano Sumio, Taiheiyō sensō to Ajia gaikō, 103–04.

67 Bōeichō Bōei Kenshūjo, Senshishitsu, Biruma kōryaku sakusen (Tokyo: Asagumo Shinbunsha, 1967), 544–45; for the Philippine case, see ‘Memorandum on Questions between Japan and the Philippines arising from The Philippine Independence’, October 1943. Taken from Agoncillo, T. A., The Fateful Years: Japan's Adventure in the Philippines, Vol. 2 (Quezon City: R.P. Garcia Publishing Co., 1965), 977–82 (Appendix C).

68 The 15 November 1941 Liaison Conference is in the Sugiyama memo, 1: 523–24. See also ‘Tai Ei-Bei-Ran-Shō sensō shūmatsu sokushin ni kan suru fukuan’, at JACAR, Reference Code: B02032969200.

69 Daihon'ei rikugunbu, 6: 536, 538. Sugiyama memo, 2: 411, 414. Inviting only independent nations was Foreign Minister Shigemitsu's idea. He stated: ‘Gathering representatives from people of all areas is undesirable for relations with independent countries. A conference with representatives from all peoples is something to consider, but at this time we should limit it to independent countries.’ See Daihon'ei rikugunbu, 7: 382.

70 Sugiyama memo, 2: 497–98.

71 This is apparent in his policy papers. Others have also argued this point as well. See Yasuda, ‘Dai tōa kaigi’, 373, 382; also see Hatano Sumio, ‘Shigemitsu Mamoru to dai tōa kyōdō sengen’, Kokusai seiji 109:5 (May 1995), 40.

72 Yasuda, ‘Dai tōa kaigi’, 373–74; and Hatano, ‘Shigemitsu Mamoru’, 42. Shigemitsu even recognized that it would send an equally strong message to Asian nations. He hinted at this in a 27 October 1943 speech before the Lower Diet. The war, he argued, ‘is a war of liberation to defend East Asia, our home, and to redeem it from exploitation, to establish peace and stability and to bring about common prosperity throughout the vast region of East Asia. We strive for construction, while our enemy aims at destruction. This is the reason why the kindred nations of East Asia, confident of final victory, are firmly resolved to fight to the last man’, JACAR, Reference Code: B10070190000.

73 The original draft, which was written in English, can be found in Ministry of Greater East Asiatic Affairs, Addresses Before the Assembly of Greater East Asiatic Nations (Tokyo: Ministry of Greater East-Asiatic Affairs, 1943), 63–65. The Japanese versions that accompanied the English original can be found in Shūhō No. 369 (10 November 1943); Sugiyama memo, 2: 504; Gaimushō, Shūsen Shiroku, Vol. 1 (Tokyo: Hokuyōsha, 1977), 99.

74 For a detailed discussion of the creation of the declaration, including earlier Foreign Ministry drafts, see Hatano, Taiheiyō sensō to Ajia gaikō, 161–86; and Yasuda, ‘Dai tōa kaigi’, 402–11. For the full Foreign Ministry drafts and discussions about them, see Gaimushō Jōyakukyoku, Gaimushō shitsumu hōkoku, 2: Shōwa 14-nen ~ 18-nen (Tokyo: Kuresu Shuppan, 1995), 137–72.

75 Gakkai, Gunjishi, Daihon'ei rikugunbu sensō shidōhan kimitsu sensō nisshi, Vol. 2 (Tokyo: Kinseisha, 1999), 440–41.

76 Some drafts went so far as to include principles against threats or military invasions. See, for instance, the Andō draft and the Committee on Special Problems in International Law (kokusai hōgaku tokubetsu mondai iinkai) draft. Gaimushō Jōyakukyoku, Gaimushō shitsumu hōkoku, Vol. 2, 159, 170.

77 Kiyoshi, Kiyosawa, Ankoku nikki (Tokyo: Hyōronsha, 1995), 179. The Asahi labelled it a ‘Greater East Asia Charter’. See ‘Sekai ni rui naki kaigi’, Tōkyō Asahi Shinbun, 7 November 1943, 2.

78 Shigemitsu, Shōwa no dōran, 2: 179. Even the Foreign Ministry's official history states that the Joint Declaration ‘is of precisely the same spirit as the Atlantic Charter’. See Gaimushō, Gaimushō no hyakunen, Vol. 2 (Tokyo: Hara Shobō, 1969), 638.

79 Kiyosawa, Ankoku nikki, 180. Also quoted in Iriye, Power and Culture, 119.

80 Iriye, Power and Culture, 119.

81 Laurel, J. P., War Memoirs of Dr. José P. Laurel (Manila: José P. Laurel Memorial Foundation, 1962), 60.

82 Ichirō, Ōda and Chikata, Ikeda, eds. Nihon gaikōshi, Vol. 24: Dai tōa sensō, senji gaikō (Tokyo: Kajima Heiwa Kenkyūjo, 1971), 478. Henceforth Nihon gaikōshi, 24.

83 The Greater East Asia Minister demonstrated this unwillingness to modify the Joint Declaration in a telegram sent out to the region's ambassadors. This telegram stated, in regard to opinions the region's leaders might have with the draft declaration, ‘we do not mean to act as an empire, forcing the document upon the region. But as you can see from the above explanation, we created the document taking into serious consideration the perspectives of all countries. So we simply seek each nation's consent. Should the countries wish to state their opinions, they will have the opportunity to do so at the conference’. See Nihon gaikōshi, 24: 475.

84 Najita, T. and Harootunian, H.D., ‘Japan's Revolt Against the West’, in Wakabayashi, B. T., ed., Modern Japanese Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 207–72.

85 For excellent works on pan-Asianism, see Aydin, C., The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2007); Hotta, E., Pan-Asianism and Japan's War, 1931–1945 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); and Masataka, Matsu'ura, Dai tōa sensō’ wa naze okitanoka: pan-Ajia shugi no seijikeizashi (Tokyo: Nagoya Daigaku Shuppankai, 2010).

86 See Iriye, Power and Culture.

87 The Navy Ministry's plan also wanted to change ‘voluntarily open up their natural resources’ to ‘provide for natural resources to be widely shared’. See Nihon gaikōshi, 24: 473–74.

88 Kenryō, Satō, Satō Kenryō no shōgen (Tokyo: Fuyō Shobō, 1976), 437; Kenryō, Satō, Dai tōa sensō kaikoroku (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1966), 319. Satō also states in Dai tōa sensō kaikoroku: ‘The elimination of racial discrimination is not an ideal but reality. I thought that there was no reason not to call for this.’ On the surface, this appears to add an element of idealism to the promotion of racial equality. Satō’s book, however, is an apologia for Japan's war in Asia (as well as his role in it) and this statement should be read as such.

89 Hikomatsu, Kamikawa, ‘Dai tōa kaigi to dai tōa kyōdō sengen’, Kokusaihō gaikō zasshi 43:1 (Jan. 1944), 77. For his most powerful critiques of the Atlantic Charter and affirmations of Japan's Pacific Charter, see Kamikawa, ‘Dai tōa kaigi’, 72–81; and Hikomatsu, Kamikawa, ‘Asia Declaration and Atlantic Charter’, Contemporary Japan 12:12 (Dec. 1943), 1554–62.

90 Tōjō naikaku sōridaijin kimitsu kiroku, 335–36.

91 Ministry of East Asiatic Affairs, Addresses Before the Assembly, 60.

92 Tōjō naikaku sōridaijin kimitsu kiroku, 333. Still, Wang's emphasis on ‘independence and autonomy’ might have resulted from frustrations his nominally independent regime felt under Japanese rule. In all, he repeated the phrase ‘independence and autonomy’ as many as 20 times during his three conference speeches. See Tōjō naikaku sōridaijin kimitsu kiroku, 310–14, 331–33, 344.

93 The 13 November 1943 statement can be found in Republic of the Philippines, Official Gazette, 1:2 (November 1943), 162; see also J. P. Laurel, ‘Fair and Equal Treatment to All’, ‘A New Code of International Relations’, and ‘Most Historic and Most Significant Conference’, in His Excellency José P. Laurel, President of the Second Philippine Republic: Speeches, Messages & Statements, October 14, 1943 to December 19, 1944 (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1997), 26–31.

94 Laurel, War Memoirs, 60.

95 Garcia, M., ed., Documents on the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (Manila: The Philippine Historical Association, 1965), 190–91.

96 Laurel, His Excellency José P. Laurel, 31.

97 José P. Laurel Papers, Series 3: Japanese Occupation Papers, Box 7, José P. Laurel Memorial Library, Manila.

98 See Burma Office Records, IOR: M/3/864, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections, BL.

99 U Hla Pe, ‘U Hla Pe's Narrative of the Japanese Occupation of Burma’, Data Paper Number 41, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, (Mar. 1961), 59.

100 Burma Office Records, IOR: M/5/88, BL.

101 Yabe Teiji, ‘Ei-Bei sensō mokuteki oyobi sengo keieiron no hihan’, 9, Yabe Sadaji kankei monjo, Document 4103, Folder 24–46, Seiji Kenkyū Daigakuin Daigaku (GRIPS). This was written between 1943 and 1944, and was ultimately published in 1945 as part of a collection of Yabe's essays. See Teiji, Yabe, Shin chitsujo no kenkyū (Tokyo: Kōbundō shobō, 1945).

102 ‘Shōsatsu su taiseiyō kenshō’, Yomiuri shinbun, 27 March 1943.

103 ‘Asiatic Puppets Confer’, The Citizen, 5 November 1943; and The Nottingham Evening Post, 5 November 1943. See also ‘5 Jap “States” Adopt World Peace Program’, Chicago Daily Tribune, 7 November 1943; and ‘Meeting of Greater East Asia Puppets’, New York Times, 6 November 1943.

104 Nuestro Diario, 26 May 1944. See also FO 371/37964, TNA.

105 Reconstruction File No. 5. FO 371/50659, TNA.

106 Dorman-Smith Papers, ‘Unfinished Memoirs’, 185, Mss Eur E.215.32b, BL.

107 The biggest difference is that Britain had one more constraint on its freedom of action: its relationship with the United States of America. American policymakers were not interested in saving the British empire or in saving the existing system of formal imperialism. Instead, they were more interested in building a client–state system of ‘free nations’ under informal hegemony. Japan had no equivalent restraint. This means that, had both nations survived the war with empire intact, the British might have faced greater pressures (from both the colonies and its superpower ally) to honour its Wilsonian rhetoric.

I would like to thank Andrew Gordon and the anonymous readers for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this article. The work described in this paper was partially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. CUHK 24610615). It was made open access through a generous grant from a Chinese University of Hong Kong publication subvention fund.

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