UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The causes of the Manchurian Incident : subtitle a non-Marxist interpretation Kitamura, Jun


si tu veux la paix, connais la guerre History repeats itself and war invariably brings tragedy to the world. In contemporary society where powerful weapons are developed one after another and world peace is a matter of ongoing concern, it is important for sociologists to carry out thorough investigation of the causes of war in order to help prevent future armed conflicts. I selected the Manchurian Incident as a subject of my investigation of the causes of war because there is some doubt as to the existing explanation of its causes. After the end of World War II, the economic determinist explanation--that the nature of capitalism caused this imperialistic aggressive war--has predominated in Japanese academic circles. The economic determinists deduce the causes of war from the consequences of war and also disregard military factors, in particular the motives of actors. Consequently, their anti-Weberian explanations are not considered to be accounts of war as such. I believe that war should be understood, not from a socioeconomic viewpoint alone, but also from a military viewpoint. Thus, I constructed my own approach as suggested by Qausewitz's theory of war. My starting point follows Qausewitz in asserting that no one starts a war without a war plan in which the objectives of the war must be clear. I then reconstruct the war plans for the Manchurian Incident through examining the primary sources. I infer the motives of the actors from the war plans, and thereby determine the central causes of the war. My analysis reveals that an important feature of the Manchurian Incident was an ongoing ideological battle between commercial pacifism and militaristic realism. In addition, my study shows that the Tokyo leaders thoroughly opposed the war in order to protect Japanese capitalist interests; but the Kanto Army's leaders decided to go to war exclusively for Japan's national defense. The Manchurian Incident suggests, therefore, that the expansion of capitalist interests does not always precipitate war; rather, ideological factors can be central in making war; in this case, the military defense ideology of Japan.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.