Greater East Asia Conference
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
With the Axis Alliance a shall only, it having no real military cooperation, Japan only hosted one conference of her own, opposed to Allies' many. The Greater East Asia Conference in Tokyo took place in Nov 1943, and the topics were more political than military.
Prior to the conference, Japan vaguely promised indepdence for Burma, Philippines, Indonesia, India, and China, though it would be likely that puppet regimes would be installed by Japan even had Japan resisted the Allies' advances in the Pacific and "independence" granted. Japan reaffirmed these claims at the conference. Japan's allies in these country above, such as Subhas Chandra Bose in India and Wang Jingwei in China knew that the version of independence Japan had in mind would closely resemble that was hardly enjoyed by Manchukuo. At the conference Japan also presented herself as the liberator of Asia from the western colonial imperialists. With Japan's misconducts and atrocities since the first World War, Japan's vision of a harmonious Asia was doubted upon highly by the world.
Transcript of Prime Minister Tojo's speech at the conference is as follows:
As the representative of the sponsor nation, I have the privilege to extend to you the sincere greetings of the Japanese Government and to make a statement of their views Some time ago, the Japanese Government proposed the convening of an Assembly of the Greater East-Asiatic Nations for the purpose of holding frank deliberations on policies relative to bringing the War of Greater East Asia to a successful conclusion and to constructing a New Order in Greater East Asia. This proposal, I am happy to say, met with hearty approval on the part of all the countries concerned, and it is with a sense of great pleasure and profound gratitude that today at this gathering I bid welcome to Your Excellencies as representatives of the nations of Greater East Asia. I am also happy to say that this Assembly is honored by the presence of His Excellency, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Head of the Provisional Government of Free India.
During the past centuries, the British Empire, through fraud and aggression, acquired vast territories throughout the world and maintained its domination over other nations and peoples in the various regions by keeping them pitted and engaged in conflict one against another. On the other hand, the United States which, by taking advantage of the disorder and confusion in Europe, had established its supremacy over the American continents spread its tentacles to the Pacific and to East Asia following its war with Spain. Then, with the opportunities afforded by the First World War, the United States began to pursue its ambition for world hegemony. More recently, with the outbreak of the present war, the United States has further intensified its imperialistic activities, making fresh inroads into North Africa, West Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, Australia, the Near East and even into India, apparently in an attempt to usurp the place of the British Empire.
The need of upholding international justice and of guaranteeing world peace is habitually stressed by America and Britain. They mean thereby no more and no less than the preservation of a world order of their own based upon division and conflict in Europe and upon the perpetuation of their colonial exploitation of Asia. They sought to realize their inordinate ambitions in Asia, through political aggression and economic exploitation; they brought on conflict among the various peoples; they tried to destroy their racial integrity under the fair name of education and culture. Thus, they have to this day threatened constantly the existence of the nations and peoples of Asia, disturbed their stability, and suppressed their natural and proper development. It is because of their notion to regard East Asia as a colony that they harp upon the principles of the open door and equal opportunity simply as a convenient means of pursuing their sinister designs of aggression, while constantly keeping their own territories closed to us, the peoples of Asia, denying us the equality of opportunities and impeding our trade, they sought solely their own prosperity.
The Anglo-American ambition of world hegemony is indeed a scourge of mankind and the root of the world's evils. Movements for emancipation have occurred from time to time among the nations and peoples of East Asia, but due to the ruthless and tyrannical armed oppression by America and Britain, or due to their malicious old trick of division and alienation for ruling other races, those patriotic efforts ended largely in failure. Meanwhile, Japan's rise of power and prestige was looked upon by America and Britain with increasing dislike. They made it the cardinal point of their East Asia Policy on the one hand, to restrain Japan at every turn and on the other, to alienate her from the other countries of East Asia. It was obviously unwise for them to permit either the rise of any one country as a great Power or the banding together of the various nations and peoples. These American and British methods became more and more sinister and high-handed, especially in the last several years.
Next, it is my desire to express to you the fundamental views of the Japanese Government regarding the construction of Greater East Asia.
It is my belief that to enable all nations each to have its proper place and to enjoy the blessings of common prosperity by mutual efforts and mutual help is the fundamental condition for the establishment of world peace. And I must furthermore say that to practice mutual help among the neighboring nations in one region, fostering one another's national growth and establishing a relationship of common prosperity and well-being, and, at the same time, to cultivate relations of harmony and concord with nations of other regions is the most effective and the most practical method of securing world peace.
It is an incontrovertible fact that the nations of Greater East Asia are bound, in every respect, by the ties of an inseparable relationship. I firmly believe that such being the case; it is their common mission to secure the stability of Greater East Asia and to construct a new order of common prosperity and well-being.
This new order of Greater East Asia is to rest upon the spirit of justice that is inherent in Greater East Asia. In this respect it is fundamentally different from the old order designed to serve the interests of the United States and Britain who do not hesitate to practice injustice, deception and exploitation in order to promote their own prosperity.
The nations of Greater East Asia, while mutually recognizing their autonomy and independence, must, as a whole, establish among themselves relations of brotherly amity. Such relations cannot be created if one country should utilize another as a means to an end. I believe that they come into being only when there is mutual respect for one another's autonomy and independence, when all countries are willing to accept the principle of 'live and let live,' and give expression to their real selves.
A superior order of culture has existed in Greater East Asia from its very beginning. Especially the spiritual essence of the culture of Greater East Asia is the most sublime in the world. It is my belief that in the wide diffusion throughout the world of this culture of Greater East Asia by its further cultivation and refinement lies the salvation of mankind from the curse of materialistic civilization and our contribution to the welfare of all humanity. It is incumbent upon us all mutually to respect one another's glorious traditions and to develop the creative spirit and genius of our peoples and thereby to enhance even more the culture of Greater East Asia.
Furthermore, I believe that in order to promote the welfare of the people and to replenish the national power, the nations of Greater East Asia must carry on close economic collaboration on the basis of reciprocity and jointly promote the prosperity of Greater East Asia. Hitherto, Greater East Asia has been for many years the object of Anglo-American exploitation, but henceforth we must be also autonomous and independent in the economic field to gain prosperity, by mutually depending on and helping each other.
The new order of Greater East Asia which we are building is not exclusive unto itself, but rather it seeks positively to enter into cooperative relations with the nations of the world, politically, economically and also culturally, and thus contribute to the world's advancement. This differs completely from the way of United States and Britain which, while advocating freedom and equality, oppress and discriminate against other nations and other peoples; which, while imposing the open door on others monopolize vast territories and natural resources, threaten the_ existence of others without compunction and retard the general advancement of the entire world.
The construction of Greater East Asia is being realized with a grim steadiness in the midst of war. In contrast, what are America and Britain doing in India? Britain's oppression of India grows in severity with every passing day; while America's ambition has recently asserted itself. Discord and friction between Britain and America on the one hand and the Indian masses on the other are aggravating, and the Indian people are being subjected to indescribable hardships and tribulations.... However, regardless of what the enemy may do, Japan is determined to follow, together with the other nations of Greater East Asia, the path of justice, to deliver Greater East Asia, from the fetters of America and Britain and, in cooperation with her neighboring nations, to strive toward the reconstruction and development of Greater East Asia.
Today, the unity of the countries and peoples of Greater East Asia has been achieved and they have embarked upon the gigantic enterprise of constructing Greater East Asia for the common prosperity of all nations. This surely must be regarded as the grandest spectacle of human effort in modern times.
War of Greater East Asia is truly a war to destroy evil and to make justice manifest. Ours is a righteous cause. Justice knows no enemy and we are fully convinced of our ultimate victory. is grateful to the nations of Greater East Asia for the whole-hearted cooperation which they are rendering in this war. Japan is firmly determined, by cooperating with them and by strengthening her collaboration with her allies in Europe, to carry on with indefatigable spirit and with conviction in sure victory in this war, the intensity of which is expected to mount from day to day. Japan, by overcoming all difficulties, will do her full share to complete the construction of Greater East Asia and contribute to the establishment of world peace which is the common mission of us all.
Joint Declaration of the Greater East Asia Conference was published as follows:
It is the basic principle for the establishment of world peace that he nations of the world have each its proper place, and enjoy prosperity in common through mutual aid and assistance.
The United States of America and the British Empire have in seeking their own prosperity oppressed other nations and peoples. Especially in East Asia, they indulged in insatiable aggression and exploitation, and sought to satisfy their inordinate ambits: n of enslaving the entire region, and finally they came to menace seriously the stability of East Asia. Herein lies the cause of the recent war.
The countries of Greater East Asia, with a view to contributing to the cause of world peace, undertake to cooperate toward prosecuting the War of Greater East Asia to a successful conclusion, liberating their region from the yoke of British-American domination, and ensuring their self-existence and self-defense,. and in constructing a Greater East Asia in accordance with the following principles:
- The countries of Greater East Asia through mutual cooperation will ensure the stability of their region and construct an order of common prosperity and well-being based upon justice.
- The countries of Greater East Asia will ensure the fraternity of nations in their region, by respecting one another's sovereignty and independence and practicing mutual assistance and amity.
- The countries of Greater East Asia by respecting one another's traditions and developing the creative faculties of each race, will enhance the culture and civilization of Greater East Asia.
- The countries of Greater East Asia will endeavor to accelerate their economic development through close cooperation upon a basis of reciprocity and to promote thereby the general prosperity of their region.
- The countries of Greater East Asia will cultivate friendly relations with all the countries of the world, and work for the abolition of racial discrimination, the promotion of cultural intercourse and the opening of resources throughout the world, and contribute thereby to the progress of mankind.
Sources: The Pacific Campaign, The World Future Fund.
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Winston Churchill, 1935