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Guest lecture: Japan's East and Southeast Asian economic bloc concept during World War II

Nov 14, 2019 04:00 pm to 06:00 pm

Professor Hiroaki ADACHI (Tohoku University, Graduate School of Arts and Letters)

Abstract: In the 1940s, Japanese leaders tried to build an economic bloc by forming an exclusive regional zone with Japan as a leader in Asia. In this presentation, I will explore the evolution of the economic bloc concept in Japan and its characteristics. The official bloc concept of the Japanese government was shown in the report of The Greater East Asia Construction Council, which was established as a council reporting directly to the Cabinet after the start of the Asia-Pacific War. I will focus on the formation process of the reports and analyze the characteristics of the economic bloc concept.

The Greater East Asia Construction Council was a meeting place for politicians, business people, and bureaucrats, so those reports should have been agreed upon by these people on how to build an economic bloc. But a conflict erupted during the drafting process. This is because the policies of each of the ministries differed over the industrial layout and the overall methods of control in the formation of the self-sufficiency zone. In order to build an economic bloc, each ministry had a different vision of the top priority issues. A comprise was reached, making the statements about the industrial layout of the report very ambiguous. This meant that the differences in the concept of each ministry were still not resolved, and the government could not come up with a unified policy.

The reason for this situation was Japan’s lack of sufficient economic power to build an economic bloc. Actually, Japan's attempt to build an Asian economic bloc broke down due to attacks by the Allied forces during the Asia-Pacific war. However, Japan already had fundamental problems to realize it at the very stage of its conception.  


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