Collection News / Penn Libraries

Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1931-1945

This collection will eventually encompass the period 1919-1952.  The first section is “Japanese Imperialism and the War in the Pacific.”

Incorporating the Taishō to the Shōwa periods, these papers throw light on Anglo-Japanese ties in a time of shifting alliances. Documenting Japan’s journey to modernity, the files discuss a period in which the country took on an increasingly bold imperialist agenda. Strong relations following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles were tested then ultimately destroyed, and by December 1941, Japan and the United Kingdom were on opposing sides of the Second World War.

These Foreign Office files cover British concerns over colonial-held territory in the Far East, as well as Japanese relations with China, Russia, Germany and the United States. Following surrender at the end of the Second World War, Japan was occupied by foreign forces for the first time in its history. The occupation resulted in disarmament, liberalisation and a new constitution as the country was transformed into a parliamentary democracy. Japan emerged once again as a player on the world stage.

Consisting of diplomatic dispatches, correspondence, maps, summaries of events and diverse other material, this collection from the rich FO 371 and FO 262 series unites formerly restricted Japan-centric documents, and is enhanced by the addition of a selection of FO 371 Western and American Department and Far Eastern sub papers.

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