for a long time, Japanese rulers and some scholars have described the “September 18th Incident” as an accidental event or the arbitrary behavior of the right-wing elements of the military headquarters, which is obviously whitewash for their aggressive behavior. After the long-term fermentation of the “naked imperialist” and the “naked imperialist” strategy, the “naked imperialists” with the old and new imperialists as the center finally led to the “naked imperialist” expansion. In the face of the world economic crisis, this expansion strategy has formed a consensus among Japanese politicians, financial circles, military circles and even citizens influenced by public opinion, that is, there is no essential difference in the specific propositions of transferring the domestic economic and political crisis through external expansion. This is the fundamental reason for the September 18th Incident.
the first half of the 20th century was a historical stage of frequent economic crises in Japan. The economic crisis that broke out in the early 1930s was mostly called “Showa economic crisis” in modern Japanese history. October 24, 1929 was a “Black Thursday”. The stock market in New York plummeted and a serious economic crisis broke out in the United States. As a link of world capitalism, Japan is doomed. This crisis has had a decisive impact on Japan’s economy, politics, society and foreign strategy. Re examining this period of history has important practical significance not only for understanding the development of Japanese capitalism, but also for interpreting the characteristics and defects of the contemporary capitalist system.
I. background and impact of the economic crisis
the historical period from the outbreak of the first World War to the occurrence of the crisis is a special period of social, economic and political turmoil in Japan and the continuous strengthening of expansion and aggression abroad. Economically, boom and crisis appear alternately, which is related to social unrest and political instability. The first World War broke out in this period and the “Kanto earthquake” in 1923 are the two major events that have the most far-reaching impact on Japan. Japan ushered in this great crisis on the basis of inheriting the historical heritage created by these two events.
during the first World War, the old Western colonial countries had no time to look East, which not only provided space for Japan’s aggressive and expansionary policy, but also brought “war boom” to Japan’s economy. Since the summer of the second year of World War II, Japan’s trade and exports have surged, and the shipping industry has been extremely prosperous. These have created opportunities for the development and prosperity of the export industry, shipbuilding industry, basic industries including mining and related industries, making all industrial sectors expand rapidly. The whole manufacturing industry increased by more than 30 times, and the chemical industry increased by more than 96 times. In the second half of 1918, the profit margin of major industries reached 55.2%, including 191.6% in some periods, and 166.6% in shipbuilding. Through the first World War, Japan has become a superpower from a long-term superpower since Meiji, and its industrial structure has also changed from an agricultural country before the war to an industrial country (in 1914, the agricultural output value accounted for 45.1% of the gross national product, the proportion of industry was 44.5%, the proportion of agricultural output value decreased to 35.1% and the proportion of industrial output value increased to 56.8% at the end of the war), At the same time, a group of “war nouveau riche” made great war wealth, grew into “new chaebols”, and monopoly capital further developed. In addition, Japan also stepped up its aggression against China during the war. In 1915, Okuma cabinet proposed 21 articles to China, requiring Japan to expand its military, political and economic rights and interests from “Manchuria and Mongolia” to northern, central and southern China, and sharply expanded the volume of trade and investment in China through various means.
“war boom” ended with the end of the war, followed by a half year economic depression. In the second year after the war, there was a “crazy prosperity” that lasted more than a year. However, this post-war prosperity could not continue. In the spring of 1920, there was a real post-war economic crisis. The crisis is deep and wide-ranging, with stock prices plummeting, business failures, bank runs and economic depression. The Japanese government raised and issued relief financial loans. After about half a year’s efforts, the crisis tended to ease, but since then, except for the “middle boom” in 1921, the Japanese economy has never experienced prosperity, and the stagnation continued until the end of the Taisho Era.
after the first World War, the political and economic pattern of the capitalist world formed many years before the war was disintegrated. The new international political pattern and order have not been rebuilt, and the world is in turmoil and chaos. The victory of the October Revolution of the Soviet Union, the upsurge of workers’ movements and national liberation movements in various countries and the protracted post-war economic depression caused the overall crisis of capitalism. The “Showa economic crisis” happened in this context.
in 1923, Japan had a “Kanto earthquake” with a magnitude of 7.9 on the Richter scale. The strong earthquake occurred during the post-war economic crisis when Japan’s economy was in depression. Factories, institutions and civilian houses collapsed or burned down, and financial institutions and stock and commodity transactions were paralyzed, making the already depressed Japanese economy worse. As a historical heritage, the sequelae of relief measures left to the Showa era has brought immeasurable negative impact to the Japanese economy in the Showa era. Its negative impact is particularly far-reaching is the “disaster relief bill” for the Kanto earthquake, which is a disaster area check directly compensated by the government and rediscounted by the Bank of Japan. The loan of the Bank of Japan was as high as 430 million yen. This heavy economic burden became the direct fuse of the financial crisis in 1927. The financial crisis caused the bankruptcy of Suzuki store, a new chaebol, and the collapse of government banks. The whole Japanese banking industry also fell into unprecedented chaos. When Japan’s economy was in depression, the economic crisis that broke out in the United States and swept the capitalist world spread to Japan, pushed Japan into the abyss of the crisis, and dealt a heavy blow to all aspects of Japanese society.
“Showa economic crisis” is characterized by its long duration, wide coverage and far-reaching impact. It lasted for three years from 1930 to 1932. Financial, industrial, trade, agriculture and other crises broke out in a series, and their impact and destructive power far exceeded any one in the first 30 years of the 20th centuryCrisis. The post-war economic crisis from 1920 to 1921 reduced the total industrial output value by 19.9%, and this crisis reduced it by more than 30%. The crisis began with a sharp fall in the prices of goods and stocks. The wholesale price in 1930 was 18% lower than that in 1929, while that in 1931 was more than 30% lower than that in 1929. The decline of stock price is also roughly the same. If the stock price index in January 1914 is set to 100, it will fall to 74 in June 1930 and 69 in September 1931.
Japan is a country with poor resources. To meet its expansionary nature, it must rely on international trade to solve the industrial raw materials and commodity market, but the economic crisis has dealt a heavy blow to its import and export trade. The total amount of foreign trade in 1929 was 4.36 billion yen, which fell to 30 billion yen in 1930. 100 million yen, which fell to 2.38 billion yen in 1931. In 1931, the import volume decreased by 44% compared with 1929, and the export volume decreased by 47%. Affected by the sharp decline in prices and the contraction of foreign trade, industrial production fell sharply. In 1929, the gross industrial product was more than 7.7 billion yen, which fell to more than 5.9 billion yen in 1930, a decrease of 23%, and then fell to more than 5.1 billion yen in 1931, a decrease of 32.9% over 1929. In 1930, 823 enterprises went bankrupt and 310 reduced their capital. In March 1931, 58 banks were in bankruptcy and closed down.
another important feature of Japan’s economic crisis is that it has a particularly severe impact on agriculture. Before the crisis, Japanese agriculture was still in the stage of semi feudal small-scale peasant economy squeezed by landlords and monopoly capital. When analyzing the previous economic situation of Japan, the early leader of the Communist Party of Japan, Ryutaro Noguchi, once pointed out: “the rapid and high development of industrial capitalism and the slow and low development of Agricultural Capitalism (the imbalance between the two is becoming more and more serious) have become the fundamental and fatal contradiction of Japanese capitalism.” This contradiction was further exacerbated after the outbreak of the crisis. Monopoly capital used price monopoly and production restriction to reduce the losses caused by the crisis. The scattered and backward agricultural economy was helpless and waiting to die in the face of the crisis, which further widened the price scissors gap of industrial and agricultural products and pushed the majority of farmers to the edge of bankruptcy. Rice and cocoon, agricultural and sideline products with a high degree of commercialization, are the main economic sources of farmers. After the crisis, the prices of these two products fell year after year. In April 1930, the price of each ton of rice was 26.91 yen, which fell to 17.7 yen in December of the same year. At that time, the production cost of each ton of rice needed 27-28 yen. Therefore, although the rice harvest was good, there was a “harvest famine” due to the sharp decline in prices. In the spring of 1929, the price of silkworm cocoons (3.75 kg) was 7.57 yen, fell to 4 yen in 1930 and 3.08 yen in 1931, which dealt a fatal blow to silkworm farmers, accounting for 4 / 10 of the total farmers in China, and 17 local banks in silkworm breeding areas were closed.