Inner Asia, with the Mongolian plateau at its center, historically lay at the crossroads of East and West, as well as being a centerpoint for North and South cultural and trade exchanges, but in the early 20th century it also found itself at the center of a struggle between the major powers: Japan from the east, China from the south, Russia from the north and northeast, and Great Britain from the west. During the first three decades of the 20th century, the major powers were concentrated around the Manchurian plain. After the foundation of Manchukuo in 1932, especially after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, however, the concentration of power gradually shifted towards the west, the so-called Chinese Northwest provinces—Shansi, Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang (East Turkestan), once described as a “new center of gravity” by Lattimore.1 The Northwest has a geographical, trade and ethnic link with Central Asia along the Silk Road. The Mongol regions located between these two gravities had cultural and ethnic links to these regions and played an important role in the Japanese attempt to move from the east to the west. This chapter will examine the Japanese effort to win this struggle through consolidating the Mongol regions as an economic, military and political base and the challenges they faced in their endeavor to access the region along the Silk Road.
|Title of host publication
|Japan on the Silk Road: Encounters and Perspectives of Politics and Culture in Eurasia
|Place of Publication
|Published - 2018