With the Japanese posing as the leader of the world's colored peoples before World War II, many Ethiopians turned to Japan for inspiration. By offering them commercial opportunities, by seeking their military support, and by reaching out to popular Japanese opinion, Ethiopians tried to soften the stark reality of a stronger Italy encroaching on their country. Europeans feared Japan's growing economic and political influence in the colonial world. Jealously guarding its claimed rights in Ethiopia against all comers, among Italy's reasons for going to war was the perceived need to blunt Japan's commercial and military advances into Northeast Africa. Meanwhile, throughout 1934 and the summer of 1935, Moscow worked hard and in ways contrary to its claimed ideological imperatives to make Collective Security work. Ethiopia was a small price to pay Italy for cooperation against Nazi Germany in Austria and Imperial Japan in China.
'Yellow' Japanese and 'black' Ethiopian collaboration before the war illuminates the pernicious and flexible use of race in international diplomacy. In odious terms, Italians used race to justify their actions as defending western and 'white' civilization. The Japanese used race to explain their tilt toward Ethiopia. The Soviets used race to justify their support for Italy until late 1935. Ethiopia used race to attract help, and 'colored' peoples worldwide rallied to Ethiopia's call.
J. Calvitt Clarke III —
J. Calvitt Clarke III is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville University, Florida.
Clarke, J. Calvitt, III. Alliance of the colored peoples: Ethiopia & Japan before World War II. James Currey, 2011. 198p bibl index ISBN 1-84701-043-1; ISBN 9781847010438. Reviewed in 2012sep CHOICE.
Clarke (emer., Jacksonville Univ.) provides a unique study of relations between Japan and Ethiopia in the years leading up to the latter's fall to Italy in 1936. Making excellent use of archival materials, the author examines the attraction these seemingly disparate nations held toward each other. Japan was eager to exploit the markets of Africa and compete with the other great powers for influence in the world; Ethiopia looked to Japan as the great model for modernization and for achieving freedom from European imperialism. Clarke lays out the many attempts by interested parties on both sides to infuse the relationship with substance, all of which ultimately failed in the face of Italian colonial aspirations in Africa. Of note is the rather quixotic and, to people today, fantastical plan to arrange a marriage between the imperial families, thus cementing symbolically the ties between the two nations. Clarke also sheds light on the Yellow Peril propaganda campaign to undercut Japanese influence in Africa. This is a detailed look at a little-known aspect of Japan's efforts to spread its influence before WW II. For those interested in Japanese and Ethiopian history and the history of Japan's foreign relations.
Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. -- M. D. Ericson, University of Maryland University College