The territorial and geopolitical expansion of the Japanese Empire began in 1895, under Emperor Meiji, with the Japanese victory over China in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), after which Imperial Japan obtained the Liaodong Peninsula and Formosa Island (Taiwan), gaining also control over Korea. In the 1930’s, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan seized Manchuria and a huge chunk of Chinese territory. By 1942, the Japanese Empire had reached its furthermost expansionist boundaries, conquering French Indochina, New Guinea, Malay Peninsula, the Philippines, the Mariana, the Marshal, the Gilbert, and the Solomon Islands. However, in August 1945, the Japanese Empire would collapse once and for all, with the Allied victory over Japan. After this armed conflict, the Rising Sun country would suffer its second political and economic transformation in history, under Douglas MacArthur.
The root cause of Japanese expansionism dates back to 1853, when four US Navy’s warships, under Commodore Matthey Perry, sailed into Tokyo Bay. The American commander started negotiations that ended up in a commercial treaty between Japan and the United States of America, putting an end of 200 years of Japanese isolation. The reason for this treaty signature lay in that the Japanese government craved for Western techonlogy and wanted to acquire modern weaponry and steam ships from the United States and Europe. The modernization of the country caused the collapsed of the century-old warlords and sammurais. The Japanese Emperor also made basic education compulsory. Despite this opening of country’s economy to the outside world, the Japanese government and education remained nationalist as other races and cultures were considered weak and inferior.