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Created by Sal Khan.
Video transcript
Japan was not a major actor in World War 1, but it did play a role. Right as war broke in August of 1914, the Japanese were interested in taking control of German posessions and they were already allies with the British so they communicated with the British and they came to an agreement that if Japan were to attack German posessions in the Pacific and in China then Japan could take control of them and so Japan proceeded to do this in particular it took a siege of Sing Tao which, we already talked about, was a German posession these are Japanese boats landing there Japanese troops and this was of technological significance it was the first time that you had a naval based aerial assault this wasn't really using what we would consider aircraft carriers although they did carry the aircraft but they would place them into the water and the aircraft would take off from the water as they tried to take the town of Sing Tao which they were eventually able to do by the end of 1914 On top of that they were able to take control of many of Germany's other posessions in the Pacific specifically the Pacific islands And on top of that Japan did send some aspects, or some parts of it's navy to help protect allied fleets as far away as the Mediterranean Japan did play a role here The other interesting historical note because of Japan's involvement in World War 1 is what came out of the negotiations First of all, by being involved kind of put Japan at the seat of major powers and as we will see in World War 2 Japan ends up being one of the major players in World War 2 and it's essentially going on the other side by that point But because of it's help of the Allies Japan does have a seat at the table of the Paris Peace Conference And as they are negotiating the treaty of Versailles and coming up with the Leauge of Nations Japan is eager to, kind of, have an equal footing with all the other European powers and so it attempts to place this in the charter for the Leauge of Nations the equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations the high contracting parties agree to accord as soon as possible to all alien nationals of states members of the League equal and just treatment in every respect let me underline that equal and just treatment in every respect making no distinction either in law or in fact on account of their race or nationality essentially the Japanese were saying hey look, you Europeans, you guys have to view us and based on the way this is phrased other people as equals And just to get a sense of what the world was like then this was not passed even though the Leauge of Nations was the product of these very idealistic thoughts by Woodrow Wilson it did not get passed obviously the British may have subjugated many people in their empires Woodrow Wilson was afraid that if this were to be included in the Leauge of Nations it would have trouble passing getting ratified in the segregated South we now know later that the League of Nations was not ratified anyway and so this essentially does not happen And even the Japanese themselves they were eager for equality for themselves but as we will see as we enter the World War 2 they themselves had a sense of racial superiority and they subjugated many of the other people in Asia especially the Chinese and the Koreans This is an interesting quote for the Chinese delegation We are not too proud to fight, but we are to proud to accept a place of admitted inferiority in dealing with one of more of the associated nations We want nothing but simple justice So tells you how different the world was this is not even a hundred years ago and the real relevance of World War 1 for Japan was it elevated it to becoming one of the powers of the world