The First World War, Japan, and a Global Century



The date of 22 January 1920 marked a momentous occasion for Japan’s lawmakers. It was the first day of deliberations following a month of winter recess, when the forty-second Imperial Diet met to legislate a new world. To a packed gallery and with all members of the diet in attendance, the Upper House assembled at 10.00 a.m. to issue a celebratory proclamation. ‘The Great War that dragged on for five years’, Japan’s peers declared, ‘was an enormous incident unprecedented in history.’ By vanquishing the German forces at Qingdao and cooperating with the allied navies in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean, Japan had displayed its national glory. At the Paris Peace Conference, it had joined the ranks of Five Great Powers. ‘We greet such a fortuitous world with what must be termed extreme happiness.’ The Lower House issued a proclamation of its own at 1.00 p.m. accentuating the diligence of the Emperor and Japan’s consistent cooperation with the allies. ‘We cannot suppress our joy’, the members of the Diet declared, ‘that with the Emperor’s recent proclamation, we have a new agreement for peace founded on the Covenant of the League of Nations.’2


Diary Entry Japanese Imperialism Foreign Minister World Power Hoover Institution 
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