Technology of Empire: Telecommunications and Japanese Expansion in Asia, 1883-1945

Technology of Empire: Telecommunications and Japanese Expansion in Asia, 1883-1945

by Daqing Yang




Nearly half a century ago, the economic historian Harold Innis pointed out that the geographical limits of empires were determined by communications and that, historically, advances in the technologies of transport and communications have enabled empires to grow. This power of communications was demonstrated when Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s radio speech announcing Japan’s surrender and the dissolution of its empire was broadcast simultaneously throughout not only the Japanese home islands but also all the territories under its control over the telecommunications system that had, in part, made that empire possible.

In the extension of the Japanese empire in the 1930s and 1940s, technology, geo-strategy, and institutions were closely intertwined in empire building. The central argument of this study of the development of a communications network linking the far-flung parts of the Japanese imperium is that modern telecommunications not only served to connect these territories but, more important, made it possible for the Japanese to envision an integrated empire in Asia. Even as the imperial communications network served to foster integration and strengthened Japanese leadership and control, its creation and operation exacerbated long-standing tensions and created new conflicts within the government, the military, and society in general.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674010918
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/18/2011
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #219
Pages: 468
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Daqing Yang is Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University.

Table of Contents

  • Figures, Tables, Maps, and Photographs
  • Abbreviations
  • Epigraph Sources
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Genesis, 1853–1931

    • 1. An Emerging Empire in the Age of Submarine Telegraphy
    • 2. Wireless and the Crisis in the Informal Empire

  • Part II: Technology, 1931–1940

    • 3. Toward a New Order on the Continent
    • 4. Inventing Japanese Technology
    • 5. Envisioning Imperial Integration

  • Part III: Control, 1936–1945

    • 6. Negotiating Control at Home
    • 7. Consolidating Control in China
    • 8. Gaining Control in Southeast Asia

  • Part IV: Network, 1939–1945

    • 9. Integrating Systems
    • 10. Operation, Meltdown and Aftermath

  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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