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Prior to World War II, Japan’s position in the international community was dependent on its power and status in Asia. From the time of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, it was essential for Japan to have considerable stature within Asia so that the country could associate on equal terms with Western nations and assume a position of influence in the international community. This was a historical imperative rooted in Japan’s determination to protect its independence against Western colonial rule in Asia.

Japan’s domestic modernization, however, which was implemented under the slogan “Enrich the country and strengthen the military,” was not always conducive to entrenching democratic institutions, and Japan undertook a colonialist expansion into Asia, creating a pattern in which it used Asia as a steppingstone to major-power status.

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