The Japanese Press and Japanese Foreign Policy 1927-1933

Tsutomu David Yamamoto
1981
Much research has been carried out on the causes and consequences of the dramatic Manchurian crisis of 1931-1933. Many books have also been written on the history of the Japanese press with not a little attention being paid to the effect of state intervention on press freedom. A systematic analysis of press treatment of foreign policy before and during the Manchurian Incident and of the ways in which the role and character of the press changed has, however, been lacking. This thesis attempts to
more » ... thesis attempts to fill the gap by examining a number of newspapers and journals including the most influential and those specialising in foreign affairs for the years 1927-1933, focusing on the crucial foreign policy issues of naval disarmament and the China question. The various methods of government censorship are also examined, It lends support to those who have seen the Japanese press in the period of 'Taisho Democracy' as a formidable critic of the Japanese government in foreign policy as well as domestic politics, This critical tone, based in part on liberal international attitudes, is shown to have continued down to 1930, particularly with regard to disarmament. The thesis also shows, however, that well before 1931, there was a growing tendency to emphasise sensational reporting, often of an anti-Chinese nature, for reasons of commercial rivalry. It is also argued that, largely for commercial reasons, the press tended to move away from a distinctively independent editorial position towards conformity with public opinion, and that it sought to avoid conflicts with the government, which might result in temporary bans on publication. Thus it indicates that to a considerable extent the apparently dramatic switch of role to support of nationalistic official policies in 1931 had already been foreshadowed.
doi:10.25501/soas.00033800 fatcat:ykz5gqjn3jcuhdzsnfg646mydq