Document: Theodore Roosevelt: The Threat of Japan, 1909 [At Mt. Holyoke] Introduction: For my history assignment, I chose the document “Theodore Roosevelt’s The Threat of Japan”. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, modernization took place, bringing Japan to the height of power equivalent to a western power after defeating both China and Russia. United States was maintaining its policy of isolationism but was slowly transitioning to self interest imperialism, keeping control over countries with economic benefit such as open door policy with China.
A summary of this article would be Roosevelt’s changing ideas of how US should change their foreign policy with regard to the dynamic change in the balance of world powers in 1909. My essay shall first examine the supporting points of the documents including the credibility of the source, reasons why Japan is a threat and immigration problems. Opposing points to mention would be that the document may be affect by the mentality of white’s men supremacy. All things considered, I largely agree with the source and President Roosevelt’s analysis of Japan as a threat.
Paragraph 1: Credibility of source The document is a primary source, written by Theodore Roosevelt himself at the point of time to Senator Knox, giving original evidence in light to our argument. I have two considerations with regard to the source’s credibility, the credentials of the author and the timeliness of the events. Theodore Roosevelt as the 26th president of the United States, have he assumed positions at the city, state, and federal levels before elected as president and was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
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As he has a reputation to uphold alongside his prestigious titles, there is less likeliness of him to be bias in his reports. The documented concerns give factual material in line with the events happening at that point of time. It is true that “Japan has formidable military power” and “considered themselves to be on a full equality” after their victory in the Russo-Japanese war in 1904-1905. There was also an immigration problem of Japanese “flocking by the hundred thousand into the US” and California legislature threatens to pass 17 anti-Japanese measures in 1909. As the ource is based on much concrete evidence as cross referenced with the timeline of events, I can claim that this document is credible to a large extent. Paragraph 2: Japan as a threat At the start of the 20th century, Japan came to be pictured as a political menace against United States, and her immigrants had been seen as a threat to American institution and economic security. Her victory in the Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War forced Roosevelt to see Japan as an equal. Meiji restoration where Japan combined Western advances with their own traditional values subsequently adopting modernization and military conscription.
They view themselves as being encroached by foreigners under the unequal treaty system of the United States thus justifying Japan’s expansionistic intents. Examples would be Japan forcing its way through the Northeast China through the ownership of South Manchurian railway and formal control of Manchuria inherited from Russia. In the event of Portsmouth Treaty and the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance in 1905, Japan used this chance to claim interest in Korea. Roosevelt acknowledged Japan’s military capabilities and is cautious when dealing with them.
His famous “Big Stick Diplomacy” can be seen as he uses the concept of speaking softly, engaging in peaceful negotiation while having a “big stick”, a strong military. This is evident in the statement “treat Japan courteously that she will not be offended more than necessary” and constantly emphasizing the need of “keeping the Navy at the highest point of efficiency. ” Roosevelt stressed harshly upon the need that the Navy needs to be strong in order to firstly keep Japan at bay through deterrence theory and secondly able to win wars if the need ever arise to.
This shows that Roosevelt took Japan as a menace very seriously, and has placed in effect, measures that prevent the threat from manifesting. Paragraph 3: Japan’s immigration problems Since the opening of Japan from its self imposed seclusion policy in 1854, scholars have studied aboard to acquire Western teachings. The immigration problem manifested once Japanese started immigrating to Hawaii, Canada and US motivated by economic gains and evasion of military services. In the year 1900 alone, 12000 Japanese entered United States and by 1910 the population trebled to a total of 72,517.
Although this bought a solution to their demand of cheap labour, another set of problems arise in the form of economic, racial and anti-Japanese agitation. Examples included would be San Francisco School Board implemented segregation of education school between Japanese and American children, and “California legislature passing offensive legislation aiming at Japanese”. This background knowledge is coherent in identifying the social problems such as a “race problem and contest” is forecasted if nothing is done to keep them out.
He understands that his people will not permit the Japanese to come in “as citizens and will not tolerate their presences. ” US experienced widespread anti-Japanese sentiments and this is supported from evidence that Roosevelt received insults such as “an unpatriotic President, who united with aliens to break down the civilization of his own countrymen” by San Francisco Chronicle when he decided to back Japan up against segregation measures by other nations.
However Roosevelt’s reasons was that he did not wish to create tension and friction between the relations of two countries and hope to continue with their peaceful diplomatic attempts to prevent any possibility of war. In essence, despite the anti-Japanese agitation of the people with their measures in place, Roosevelt found it hard to openly support them as he hopes to continue their mutual corresponding efforts in diplomacy and restrain from any form of conflict. Paragraph 4: White Men’s Supremacy
An uncertainty would be that Roosevelt may be slightly bias due to the prevalent widespread ideology of “White men’s supremacy” at that point of time. In the height of imperialism, the poem of “The White Man’s Burden” by Rudyard Kipling bought about feelings of superiority and condescending view over the less developed countries mainly Asia. The Whites have the obligation to rule over the indigenous population through colonialization and civilizing mission to educate them. The relationship between US and Japan was marked with tensions with regard to economic and commercial interest over Asia.
Roosevelt may view Japan in a negative light such as an aggressor because he felt that only US has a legitimate rule and control over China, unlike an inferior Asian country like Japan However in Roosevelt’s analysis, the rest of the US has a different impression of Japan. He claims that “the moment everything is smooth and pleasant, there will be a clamor for a stoppage in the building up of the navy. ” It can be inferred from Roosevelt that US is easily conceited and once they are in their comfort zone, they will forgot how big a threat Japan possess. Conclusion:
In context to what we have learnt so far, it is most relevant to our lecture 6 of “Culture of High Imperialism - Japan”. Through the evaluation of this document, we have seen that Western power, US, have acknowledged the might of an Asian country, Japan. There have been a change in the balance of global power at that point of time and “White Men Supremacy” ideology was tested as Japan defeat Russia and China. United State’s President Roosevelt was forced to recognize “the whole question of our dealings with the Orient is certain to grow in importance” and there was a drastic change of perception of the social construct of the world.
He highlighted Japan as a threat of interest and territory in Asia as well as creation of an immigrant problem of racial contest in Hawaii and parts of US. Roosevelt gave solutions such as “Big Stick Diplomacy” of building up the Navy and keeping it strong to deter Japan from attacking them. He stressed that Senator Knox should not lower his guard during moments of peace and overlook the job of keeping the Navy in its highest point of efficiency as well as controlling the emigration rate of Japanese into US.
I have tested the source’s credibility and found it to be largely reliable and largely agree that Japan was a threat to US in the early 1900s and Roosevelt was correct to identify them as one and implement solutions to counter their aggression. 1496 words Bibliography Chitoshi Yananga, Japan Since Perry (Achron Books; Hamden, Connecticut, 1966) David Cody, The growth of the British Empire, Associate Professor of English, (Hartwick College Paragraph 4) 1988 Hunt, Lynn, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, R. Po-chia Hsia et al.. The Making of the West, Peoples and Cultures.
Vol. C. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2009. Mark Canada; The Ready Reference Handbook (49b) Martin, Gary. “Speak Softly And Carry a Big Stick” -------------------------------------------- [ 1 ]. Mark Canada; The Ready Reference Handbook (49b) http://www. uncp. edu/home/canada/work/markport/best/evaluate. htm (Janaury 2001) [ 2 ]. Chitoshi Yananga, Japan Since Perry (Achron Books; Hamden, Connecticut, 1966), 439 [ 3 ]. Hunt, Lynn, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, R. Po-chia Hsia et al.. The Making of the West, Peoples and Cultures. Vol. C. 3rd ed.
Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2009. 712-13. [ 4 ]. Chitoshi Yananga, Japan Since Perry (Achron Books; Hamden, Connecticut, 1966), 334 [ 5 ]. Chitoshi Yananga, Japan Since Perry (Achron Books; Hamden, Connecticut, 1966), 333 [ 6 ]. Martin, Gary. “Speak Softly And Carry a Big Stick” [ 8 ]. Chitoshi Yananga, Japan Since Perry (Achron Books; Hamden, Connecticut, 1966), 429 [ 9 ]. Chitoshi Yananga, Japan Since Perry (Achron Books; Hamden, Connecticut, 1966), 437 [ 10 ]. David Cody, The growth of the British Empire, Associate Professor of English, (Hartwick College Paragraph 4) 1988
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