Key Issues in Asian Studies

Japan and Imperialism, 1853-1945 (James L. Huffman)



Revised and Expanded Second Edition

ISBN: 978-0-924304-82-8. 108 pages. Paperback.


This lively narrative tells the story of Japan’s experience with imperialism and colonialism, looking first at Japan’s responses to Western threats in the nineteenth century, then at Japan’s activities as Asia’s only imperialist power. Using a series of human vignettes as lenses, Japan and Imperialism examines the motivations—strategic, nationalist, economic—that led to imperial expansion and the impact expansion had on both national policies and personal lives. The work demonstrates that Japanese imperial policies fit fully into the era’s worldwide imperialist framework, even as they displayed certain distinctive traits. Japanese expansive actions, the booklet argues, were inspired by concrete historical contingencies rather than by some national propensity or overarching design.

“James Huffman offers a lucid chronological account of Japan’s experience first as a target and then as an increasingly committed practitioner of imperialism. He provides an eminently accessible and richly illustrated narrative, with due attention to key interpretive issues, that is wonderfully suited for classroom use. An especially attractive feature of the work is the way each chapter opens with a personal vignette of a victim, a critic, or an agent of imperialism and its effects—giving a tangible, human form to one of the defining forces that shaped modern Japan and its international relations through World War II.”
Steven J. Ericson
Associate Professor of History, Dartmouth College
Author, The Sound of the Whistle: Railroads and the State in Meiji Japan
Co-Editor, The Treaty of Portsmouth and Its Legacies

“This concise and readable introduction to a complex subject—the rise and fall of Japan as an imperialist power—will be a splendid addition to the reading list of any course on modern Japanese history. Teachers will appreciate Huffman’s ability to raise key issues of analysis and interpretation, and students will appreciate his ability to discuss them with clear and lively prose.”
Peter Duus
William H. Bonsall Professor of Japanese History, Emeritus, Stanford University
President, Association for Asian Studies, 2000–2001
Author, Modern Japan and Co-Editor, The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931–1945


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