Hakko ichiu

Hakko ichiu

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was a Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 political slogan that became popular from the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 to World War II, and was popularized in a speech by Prime Minister of Japan
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

 Fumimaro Konoe
Fumimaro Konoe
Prince was a politician in the Empire of Japan who served as the 34th, 38th and 39th Prime Minister of Japan and founder/leader of the Taisei Yokusankai.- Early life :...

 on January 8, 1940.


The term was coined early in the twentieth century by Nichiren sect Buddhist activist and nationalist Tanaka Chigaku
Tanaka Chigaku
Tanaka Chigaku was a Japanese Buddhist scholar and preacher of Nichiren Buddhism, orator, writer and nationalist propagandist in the Meiji, Taishō and early Shōwa periods. He is considered to be the father of Nichirenism, the fiercely nationalistic blend of Nichiren Buddhism and State Shinto...

, who cobbled it from parts of a statement attributed in the chronicle Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
The , sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical...

to legendary first emperor Jimmu at the time of his ascension. The full statement by the emperor Jimmu reads: "Hakkō wo ooute ie to nasan" 八紘を掩うて宇と為さん or in the original kanbun Japanese (not necessarily the way that the Chinese would render it) 掩八紘而爲宇: 'I shall cover the eight directions and make them my abode,' with "hakkō" 八紘 ' eight crown cords' identical to "happō" 八方 'eight directions.

Ambiguous in its original context, Tanaka interpreted the statement by Jimmu, mythically descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu
, or is apart of the Japanese myth cycle and also a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is the goddess of the sun, but also of the universe. the name Amaterasu derived from Amateru meaning "shining in heaven." The meaning of her whole name, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is "the great August kami who...

, as meaning that imperial rule had been divinely ordained to expand until it united the entire world. While Tanaka saw this outcome as resulting from the emperor's moral leadership, many of his followers were less pacifist in their outlook.

Racial equality and growing expansionism

Japanese in Western nations suffered from racial discrimination issues. In 1919, Japan proposed a racial equality clause
Racial Equality Proposal, 1919
The Racial Equality Proposal was a Japanese proposal for racial equality at the Paris Peace Conference.-The proposal:After the end of seclusion, Japan suffered unequal treaties and demanded equal status with the Powers. In this context, the Japanese delegation to the Paris peace conference proposed...

 at the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

. Their proposal received the support of a majority but was vetoed by Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

, in violation of the rules of the Conference on majority vote. In 1924, the Asian Exclusion Act was put in force. Then, Asians immigrated to Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

; however, the Manchukou (Manchus Empire) was not recognized by the Allied Powers
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

. On December 6, 1938, the Five ministers council (Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe
Fumimaro Konoe
Prince was a politician in the Empire of Japan who served as the 34th, 38th and 39th Prime Minister of Japan and founder/leader of the Taisei Yokusankai.- Early life :...

, Army Minister
Ministry of War of Japan
The , more popularly known as the Ministry of War of Japan, was cabinet-level ministry in the Empire of Japan charged with the administrative affairs of the Imperial Japanese Army...

 Seishirō Itagaki, Navy Minister
Ministry of the Navy of Japan
The was a cabinet-level ministry in the Empire of Japan charged with the administrative affairs of the Imperial Japanese Navy . It existed from 1872 to 1945.-History:...

 Mitsumasa Yonai
Mitsumasa Yonai
was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and politician. He was the 37th Prime Minister of Japan from 16 January to 22 July 1940.-Early life & Naval career:...

, Foreign Minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

 Hachirō Arita
Hachiro Arita
was a Japanese politician and diplomat who served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs for three terms. He is believed to have originated the concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.- Biography :...

 and Finance Minister
Finance minister
The finance minister is a cabinet position in a government.A minister of finance has many different jobs in a government. He or she helps form the government budget, stimulate the economy, and control finances...

 Shigeaki Ikeda
Shigeaki Ikeda
', also known as Seihin Ikeda, was a Japanese politician and businessman prominent in the early decades of the 20th century. He served as director of Mitsui Bank from 1909-1933, was appointed governor of the Bank of Japan in 1937, and served as Minister of Finance under Prime Minister Fumimaro...

), which was the highest decision making council at the time, took the decision to prohibit the expulsion of the Jews from Japan, Manchuria, and China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 in accordance with the spirit of racial equality. Thereafter, the Japanese received Jewish refugees
Jewish refugees
In the course of history, Jewish populations have been expelled or ostracised by various local authorities and have sought asylum from antisemitism numerous times...

 despite their ally Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

's opposition.

With the economic impact of the Shōwa financial crisis and the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, this led in the 1930s to a resurgence of nationalist, militarist and expansionist movements. Emperor Shōwa and his reign became associated with the rediscovery of Hakkō ichiu as an expansionist element of Japanese nationalistic beliefs. The naval limitations treaties of 1921, and especially 1930, were a mistake in their unanticipated effect on internal political struggles in Japan; and the treaties provided an external motivating catalyst which provoked reactionary, militarist elements to desperate actions which eventually overwhelmed civilian and liberal elements in society.

The evolution of Hakkō ichiu serves as a changing litmus test of these factional relationships during the next decade.

The term Hakkō ichiu did not enter general circulation until 1940, when the second Konoe administration issued a white paper
White paper
A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to...

 titled "Fundamental National Policy" (基本国策要綱 Kihon Kokusaku Yōkō), which opened with these words, and in which Prime Minister Konoe proclaimed that the basic aim of Japan's national policy was "the establishment of world peace in conformity with the very spirit in which our nation was founded" and that the first step was the proclamation of a "new order in East Asia" (東亜新秩序 Tōa Shin Chitsujo), which later took the form of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was a concept created and promulgated during the Shōwa era by the government and military of the Empire of Japan. It represented the desire to create a self-sufficient "bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers"...

"). In the most magnanimous form, the term was used to indicate the making of a universal brotherhood implemented by the uniquely virtuous Yamato. Because this would bring people under the emperor's fatherly benevolence, force was justified against those who resisted.

1940 was declared the 2600th anniversary of the founding of Japan in part in celebration of hakko ichiu.

World War II

As the Second Sino-Japanese War dragged on without conclusion, the Japanese government turned increasingly to the nation's spiritual capital to maintain fighting spirit.

Characterization of the fighting as a , similarly grounding the current conflict in the nation's sacred beginnings, became increasingly evident in the Japanese press at this time. In 1940, a Taisei Yokusankai
Taisei Yokusankai
The was Japan's para-fascist organization created by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on October 12, 1940 to promote the goals of his Shintaisei movement...

 was launched to provide political support to Japan's war in China.

The general spread of the term Hakkō ichiu, neatly encapsulating this view of expansion as mandated in Japan's divine origin, was further propelled by preparations for celebrating the 2600th anniversary of Jimmu's ascension, which fell in the year 1940 according to the traditional chronology. Stories recounted that Jimmu, finding five races in Japan, had made them all as "brothers of one family."

Allied response

After Japan declared war on the Allies in December 1941, Allied governments produced several propaganda film
Propaganda film
The term propaganda can be defined as the ability to produce and spread fertile messages that, once sown, will germinate in large human cultures.” However, in the 20th century, a “new” propaganda emerged, which revolved around political organizations and their need to communicate messages that...

s citing the Hakkō ichiu as evidence that the Japanese intended to conquer the entire world.

The official translation offered by contemporary leaders was "universal brotherhood", but it was widely acknowledged that that expression meant that the Japanese were "equal to the Caucasians but, to the peoples of Asia, we act as their leader."

Allied judgement

Hakko Ichiu meant the bringing together of the corners of the world under one ruler, or the making of the world one family. This was the alleged ideal of the foundation of the Empire; and in its traditional context meant no more than a universal principle of humanity
Humanity (virtue)
The virtue, humanity, is a set of strengths focused on “tending and befriending others.” The three strengths associated with humanity are love, kindness, and social intelligence. Humanity differs from justice in that there is a level of altruism towards individuals included in humanity more so than...

, which was destined ultimately to pervade the whole universe. The way to the realisation of Hakko Ichiu was through the benign rule of the Emperor; and therefore the "way of the Emperor"—the "Imperial" or the "Kingly way"—was a concept of virtue, and a maxim of conduct. Hakko Ichiu was the moral goal; and loyalty to the Emperor was the road which led to it. Throughout the years that followed measures of military aggression were advocated in the names of Hakko Ichiu eventually became symbols for world domination through military force.

See also

  • An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus
    An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus
    , was a secret Japanese government report created by the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Population Problems Research Center, and completed on July 1, 1943....

  • Greater East Asia Conference
    Greater East Asia Conference
    was an international summit held in Tokyo, Japan from 5 – 6 November 1943, in which Japan hosted the heads of state of various component members of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere...

  • Japanese militarism
    Japanese militarism
    refers to the ideology in the Empire of Japan that militarism should dominate the political and social life of the nation, and that the strength of the military is equal to the strength of a nation.-Rise of militarism :...

  • Japanese nationalism
    Japanese nationalism
    encompasses a broad range of ideas and sentiments harbored by the Japanese people over the last two centuries regarding their native country, its cultural nature, political form and historical destiny...

  • Lebensraum
    was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

  • Racial Equality Proposal, 1919
    Racial Equality Proposal, 1919
    The Racial Equality Proposal was a Japanese proposal for racial equality at the Paris Peace Conference.-The proposal:After the end of seclusion, Japan suffered unequal treaties and demanded equal status with the Powers. In this context, the Japanese delegation to the Paris peace conference proposed...

  • Shinmin no Michi
    Shinmin no Michi
    The was an ideological manifesto issued by the Ministry of Education of Japan during World War II aimed at Japan’s domestic audience to explain in clear terms what was expected of them "as a people, nation and race".- Origins :...