Contents - Hirohito's War
2 Ultra-nationalism and the Death of Democracy
[Maps: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4]
The London Naval Conference  and the Death of Hamaguchi (p 37) The Mukden Incident  (p 39) Depression, Autarky and the Economic Imperatives for Japanese Aggression (p 42) Fascism, Pan-Asianism and the Japanese Intelligentsia (p 45) Thought Control and Censorship (p 54) 15 May Incident  (p 58) Japanese Political Parties: Minseito and Seiyukai Undermined [1932–1936] (p 60) The 26 February Incident  and the Purge of the Imperial Way Faction (p 64) The Control Faction in the Ascendant [1936–1941] (p 68) Agnes Smedley, Ozaki and the Sorge Spy Ring (p 70) The Long March and the Xian Incident [December 1936] (p 72) The Anti-Comintern Pact [November 1936] (p 78) Preconditions for War (p 78)
The London Naval Conference  and the Death of Hamaguchi: Convened on 21 January 1930, the London Naval Conference aimed to renew the limitations to the building of battleships agreed by the great naval powers at the Washington Naval Treaty —sometimes known as the Five Powers Treaty. The 5:5:3 capital ships tonnage ratios agreed eight years earlier for the United States, Great Britain and Japan respectively, were kept in place in London. However, for light cruisers and auxiliary ships Japan achieved an improvement to 10:10:7 respectively. To add to the complexity America was allowed 18 heavy cruisers to 15 for Great Britain and 12 for Japan. A five-year ban was set on new capital ships. However, the provisions for the naval treaties of 1922 and 1930 were set to lapse in 1936. France and Italy, which had been allowed a ratio of 1.75 each in the Washington Naval Treaty, refused to sign up to the Treaty of London .
It was a slight upward adjustment to Japan’s quota but not one that satisfied the main opposition party, Rikken Seiyukai (Friends of Constitutional Government), and conservatives within the Sumitsu-in (Privy Council). In a sign of the Diet’s hostility, parliamentarian Ichiro Hatoyama, later a Prime Minister in 1954 and one of the founders of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a year later, went as far as to suggest that civilian decisions on armaments had been made which had ignored the opinions of the Navy. It was an argument that undermined both the cabinet and parliamentary democracy. The more nationalistic senior Navy officers were hostile to the London Naval Conference and many younger ultra-nationalists were vocal in disapproval. It was quibbled that the new ratios were 0.4 percent short of their original target. Their main gripe was that Japan was forced to halt production of heavy cruisers, which had been excluded in Washington, but were now limited in a way which would allow the United States to catch up in this category. To outsiders, opposition to the London Naval Treaty  appeared to be based more on a pro-forma opposition to Hamaguchi’s firm civilian leadership, than to any substantive issues. In reality Japan’s tonnage remained at 80 percent compared to the United States because America, during the depression, allowed the building of new warships to lapse. This did nothing to mollify the ultra-nationalists who were intent on not being mollified. For them the treaty would remain a