While Asians, the Japanese saw themselves as less representatives of Asia than Asia's champion.They sought to liberate Asian colonies from the Westerners, whom they disdained.The kamikaze pilots, who were named for the "divine wind" (kami kaze) that destroyed the Mongol fleet in the thirteenth century and saved Japan from invasion, might be compared to the young Iranian soldiers fighting in suicide squadrons in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, or even to fanatical Shiites responsible for the truck bombing of the U. Their attempt to establish a statement of racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations was vetoed by the United States (because of opposition in California) and Great Britain (Australian resistance). The Japanese military was convinced of the willingness of its people to go to any sacrifice for their nation, and it was contemptuous of the "softness" of the U. and European democracies, where loyalty and patriotism were tempered by the rights and well-being of the individual.The military's overconfidence in its own abilities and underestimation of the will of these other nations were thus rooted in its own misleading ethnic and racial stereotypes.Following their deaths in the early 1920s, no single governmental institution was able to establish full control, until the 1931 Manchurian Incident, when Japan took control of Manchuria.This began a process in which the military behaved autonomously on the Asian mainland and with increasing authority in politics at home. By the time General Hideki Tôjô became prime minister and the war against the United States began in 1941, the nation was in a state of "total war" and the military and their supporters were able to force their policies on the government and the people.Internationally, this was a time when "free trade" was in disrepute.
Japan used high tariffs to limit imports of American and European industrial products. Roosevelt's embargo of oil exports to Japan pressured the Japanese navy, which had stocks for only about six months of operations.
During the Meiji period, the government was controlled by a small ruling group of elder statesmen who had overthrown the shogun and established the new centralized Japanese state.
These men used their position to coordinate the bureaucracy, the military, the parliament, the Imperial Household, and other branches of government.
This can perhaps best be viewed, however, as extreme patriotism — Japanese were taught to give their lives, if necessary, for their emperor.
But this was not entirely different from the Americans who gave their lives in the same war for their country and the "American" way. Racism The Japanese were proud of their many accomplishments and resented racial slurs they met with in some Western nations.