The Neutrals and Japan’s Long Second World War
This talk explores the political and economic interactions between neutral actors and the Empire of Japan during its 15 years of warfare in Asia and the Pacific, from the Mukden Incident of 1931 until the Tenno’s surrender speech in 1945. Working through a diverse and sometimes questionable range of neutrals—from The Vatican, Francoist Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA, the Soviet Union, the Red Cross, and the YMCA—we will be looking at countries and institutions alike, traveling from Japan proper to its satellites of Manchukuo and the Philippines with a simple question: what did “neutrality” mean for Japan? By definition, neutrals were not at war, but they still got caught up in it. By shifting the focus on those who did not fight (at least for some time), we will be trying to understand the global aspects of the war and the international network the empire maintained even during the height of the bloody contest.
Photo by Su San Lee on Unsplash