Imperial links: The Italian-Ethiopian war and Japanese New Order thinking, 1935-6

Reto Hofmann

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates Japanese New Order thinking in terms of the political and cultural debates sparked by the Italian aggression of Ethiopia (19356). Interpreting the war in light of Japan's earlier conquest of Manchuria (1931), Japanese ideologues, policymakers, and journalists expressed a mixture of rage and relief. On one side, they regarded Fascist Italy's war as old-fashioned Western imperialism from which Japan claimed to be liberating Asia. On the other side, they concluded that the Italian-Ethiopian war accelerated the collapse of the international order established after the First World War. In this way the Japanese recognized a commonality of interest with Mussolini's attempt to contrast the League of Nations and the Great Powers by means of empire-building. This article argues that, in the attempt to overcome the international order centered on the League of Nations, Imperial Japan's fascist tendencies overlapped with Fascist Italy's imperial policies and that Japanese observers were conscious of (albeit often ambivalent about) this unexpected ideological common ground. Ultimately, the article attempts to shed new light on the relationship between imperialism and fascism in the inter-war period. (c) The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215 - 233
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Axis
  • empire
  • Fascism
  • imperialism
  • Italy
  • Japan

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