The path to national security and wealth is by control of resources. Usually in world history this has been accomplished by outright military control of those resource bases by creation of colonies. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Persians all did this. The Mongols were successful at it too. In more modern times, the west European nations have led the way - Spain/Portugal first, followed later by the Dutch, English, French, and Belgians. Moving overland, the Russians also garnered a vast empire of conquered peoples. Very late to the scramble were Germany, Italy, and Japan. Japan, an island nation, was similar in many respects to England. Imported raw materials were critical to national survival. Exports of industrial goods was encouraged. The islands were overpopulated/crowded, the people aggressive and militaristic, with a 'prima dona' complex when it came to foreigners. The only real difference in the two was that Japan came late to the colonial 'table'. In fact, by the time Japan began to conquer a colony or two, the English had already taken choice colonial possessions right in Japans backyard. The expansionist and aggressive Americans had also cooked up a war with Spain so that they could run off with the remnants of that nations colonies, which included areas next to Japan. Japan did not wish direct confrontation with either America or Britain. Asia contained plenty of space for the Japanese to colonize, mainly via China. Japan never tried to enter the home base spheres of those two powers, as they had Japan's. Ignoring their own suppression of colonial peoples, the Americans and British quickly began to criticize the Japanese for trying to colonize parts of China. Ultimately this led to the Americans organizing with Britain and the Netherlands to freeze Japanese financial assets. This meant that almost 100% of Japan's most critical import, oil, could not be purchased. Some, even in America, has considered this a virtual declaration of war by the USA. The Japanese argued among themselves for a bit over whether they should submit to American control of their national destiny or fight for a place in the sun too. Ultimately the fighters won out, Japan started a shooting war in the Pacific, and lost everything. To this day, Japan is thus a second rate power, despite its large economy. The military is hobbled. 100% of the colonial empire was stripped (many parts going to the Americans). Japan remains under the military umbrella of the USA to this day.
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