ABSTRACT

Southeast Asia’s relations with Japan have experienced high and low points in the last century. Japan’s military success over Russia in the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War inspired and fueled Asian nationalism, helping to dispel the myth of Western invincibility and its concomitant Asian weakness and subordinate status. Meiji Japan’s successful westernization and rise to great power status was the one bright spot in a region savaged by imperialism and instability. The abrogation of the Anglo-Japanese alliance and the subsequent unraveling of the Washington Treaty system left an indelible imprint on the Japanese strategic outlook. In its quest for acceptance and efforts to consolidate its position as an Asian power, Japan embarked on an expansionist path in the 1930s. Japan’s conquest of Southeast Asia and subsequent defeat by the Allied Powers effectively severed Tokyo’s ties with the region. From the master of Asia, Japan became a pariah. This was the low point in Japan’s Asian diplomacy.