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Thread: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

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    IrishBlood's Avatar GIVE THEM BLIZZARDS!
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    Default The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    After reading up on president McKinley (I got curious after Obama renamed his mountain), I eventually started reading about the US annexation of Hawaii.

    A brief summary is that a white American minority with the help of the US military overthrew the native Hawaiian monarchy and established a brief oligarchic republic with the hopes of getting annexed by the USA, which they eventually were in 1897 and this was done against the wishes of the native Hawaiian people.

    American expansionism in the late 1800's is not surprising, as they went to war with Spain and crushed the Philippine revolution around this time. What IS surprising is why they took Hawaii when they did: the Japanese. The Japanese were one of the premier military powers in the pacific at this time and with the exception of Britain had a navy to match any contender in the region. Hawaaii has numerous military and trade applications as proven during WW2, so it makes sense that both Japan and America wanted it. There seems to have been a genuine fear at the time that Japan would annex Hawaii, so the US had to get there first, as Japanese control of Hawaii could prove a serious impediment to US power projection into Asia. These fears were far from unfounded either, as the Japanese sent a battle-cruiser to Hawaii (along with another warhsip that was already in the area) as part of their diplomatic protest against the US annexation. Obviously nothing serious came of this, but it spooked the American government. One ship was a threat, but if the Japanese had sent an entire flottila they likely could have seized the islands as they were already far more established there than the Americans were.

    It seems that the Hawaiian monarchy was being heavily courted by the Japanese government and more importantly a census in 1900 shows that almost 40% of the population was Japanese! Compare this to the white population, which was less than 20% of the total population and was not solely American either. There appears to have been a very real chance that the Japanese could have gained effective control of the islands, either through an alliance with the native monarchy by promising protection in exchange for military ports etc, or outright annexation. To give you an idea of just how close the two were, the King of Hawaii even proposed a royal marriage to bring their two nations together. The proposal was rejected, but Japanese-Hawaiian relations went from strength to strength.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_in_Hawaii

    In terms of justification the Japanese would have had plenty to gain from such a move and the USA at the time was far from the mighty behemoth it would eventually become by the time the two countries went to war in WW2. Add to this the fact that the USA went to war with Spain around the time of annexation, you have to wonder what might have happened had tensions between Japan and America been more tense. A Japanese-Spanish alliance perhaps?

    Heres am article discussing it in more detail, although take it with a pinch of salt as it is very pro Japan, particularly towards the end as it claims the Japanese were very peace loving at the time compared to the US, despite the fact they had just recently kicked the crap out of China!

    http://www.iiipublishing.com/blog/20...5_25_2009.html

    It should also be noted that the British and French were none too pleased with the annexation either, the British in particular harbored their own ambitions for influence in Hawaii, although they were almost certainly far too overstretched with their existing possessions to seriously commit to anything. That said the status quo of a neutral, free Hawaiian nation suited them much better than a Hawaii controlled by the USA, allowing for increased American influence in the Pacific.As a result, were Japan and America to go to war, it is unlikely that the British would have intervened and could possibly have offered some indirect support to Japan in an attempt to curb American ambitions.


    Last edited by IrishBlood; September 03, 2015 at 11:06 AM.

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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    A great find and good read! This makes sense and probably is why the US and Britain then began to supply the Japanese in an attempt to get a more modern Asian ally in preparation for the first world war ( I have a suspicion the great powers saw it coming quite a bit before theyd have us believe)

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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    The colonisation of the Pacific was arguably less brutal than many other areas, bad enough though, and the actions of powers in establishing their dominions were risibly hypocritical.

    Finding herself on the throne, Queen Victoria immediately announced her intention of being Good and plural but not amused. This challenge was joyfully accepted by her subjects, and throughout her protracted reign loyal and indefatigable attempts to amuse her were made by Her Majesty’s eminently Victorian ministers and generals...All these attempts having failed, news was brought to the Queen that the Fiji Islands were annexed to the British “by the desire of the inhabitants.” At this point, according to some (seditious) historians, Her Majesty’s lip was observed to tremble.
    1066 and all that.
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Well why didn't the Japanese simply annexed Hawai then? It seems that a lot of things were going to their favor.

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Japan could have very well taken over Hawaii and incorporated it into the Empire if the US had dithered, dragged its feet and delayed the action of annexation. In that case Japan would have probably bombed some military base on the West Coast instead of Pearl Harbor and, in the end, the US would take over Hawaii anyway by dismantling the Japanese Empire in WWII. That's all assuming that world events wouldn't have been drastically altered by then and the Japanese perhaps would have never attacked the US.

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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Weren't Hawaii the jumping spot for the US into Asia?

    It is from there that they entered the Philipines and Asia in general.

    If Japan had Hawaii for the entire first half of the 20th century, there probably would not even be any American influence(and thus, no interest) in the entire South-East Asian region whatsoever.

    Or am I exaggerating this?

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Quote Originally Posted by Marius Marich View Post
    Weren't Hawaii the jumping spot for the US into Asia?

    It is from there that they entered the Philipines and Asia in general.

    If Japan had Hawaii for the entire first half of the 20th century, there probably would not even be any American influence(and thus, no interest) in the entire South-East Asian region whatsoever.

    Or am I exaggerating this?
    Jumping point or not, I would assume the Panama Canal linking the Caribbean with the Pacific would still be constructed, as would naval bases on the continental West Coast of the United States.

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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    Jumping point or not, I would assume the Panama Canal linking the Caribbean with the Pacific would still be constructed, as would naval bases on the continental West Coast of the United States.
    Yeah...half a World away.

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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    It was actually the threat of Japanese expansion that helped give some added impetus to the urgency of the Canal. and without Hawaii as a naval base, THe US might have turned its focus instead to the Carribean, perhaps following a plan that was brought up to turn the Phillipines over to a lesser power as a mandate. In this case Cuba might have taken the role the Philippines took in the U.S. expansion, with the us pouring troop in to try and eventually subdue them as a protectorate. If thats the cse, the U.S might not have even really been interested in what happened in the Pacific, leaving it up to the European powers to continue to police that part of the world.

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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Interesting story but I wouldn't say that Japan was one of the premier powers in the Pacific. Aside from the United States and Spain the Japanese were the only power. After 1899 it was pretty much just Japan and USA and no I don't count Russia even though 1897 was also the year that Russia began creeping into Manchuria and "leased" Liaodong from the Qing, 1900 was the year of full on invasion of Manchuria (post 1905 I don't have to count Russia anway ). In 1899 Germany might have become one if they successfully acquired the Philippines assuming Wilhelm II and Admiral Otto von Diederichs got their way.
    Also I didn't count Britain or the Dutch since other than the South China Sea and westwards Britain had no real power in the Pacific where as the Dutch were confined to Indonesia.
    France had no power there since like 1888.
    Last edited by Lord Oda Nobunaga; September 05, 2015 at 04:07 PM.

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    IrishBlood's Avatar GIVE THEM BLIZZARDS!
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Despondent Mind View Post
    Well why didn't the Japanese simply annexed Hawai then? It seems that a lot of things were going to their favor.
    I think the main reason the Japanese didn't just invade was because they actually got on quite well with the native Hawaiians! They were already on extremely good terms with them, so I think they were hoping to develop an alliance/client state type relationship. It would have made perfect sense for the Hawaiians to allow the Japanese free use of naval facilities and to establish military bases in exchange for protection from the US or the European powers. The Hawaiians would still be free and independent and Japan would have gained arguably one of the most strategically important naval bases in the world.

    I think the only reason that this didn't happen as because the Japanese were not expecting the coup of 1883 that led to American annexation. Simply put; they thought they had more time. They were understandably still pretty occupied with their immediate neighbors, as they would soon crush China in the first Sino-Japanese war of 1895 and as a direct result of that began to focus on and prepare for their eventual annexation and colonization of Korea. They were also very much concerned with Russia, leading to the war of 1905 in which they KO'd virtually the entire Russian navy.

    With such immediate concerns, it is understandable as to why they overlooked the possibility of American skulduggery. But had they been keeping a better eye on Hawaii and ramped up their efforts to secure a base or two there, they could easily have crushed the coup and kept the Hawaiian queen in power before the rebels became too entrenched. Had the coup been put down quickly, then the US most likely would have been unable to do much. But, if an actual war broke out between Japanese troops and settlers Vs American settlers on Hawaii than the first hint of a massacre (real or imaginary) would almost certainly have caused America to go to war.

    Teddy Roosevelt was assistant secretary for the navy at the time and he was VERY patriotic and it was mainly due to his urging that the US government supported the coup and eventually annexed Hawaii, so I'm pretty sure he would have been frothing at the mouth if the Japanese put down the American coup on the islands.


    Quote Originally Posted by Marius Marich View Post
    Weren't Hawaii the jumping spot for the US into Asia?

    It is from there that they entered the Philipines and Asia in general.

    If Japan had Hawaii for the entire first half of the 20th century, there probably would not even be any American influence(and thus, no interest) in the entire South-East Asian region whatsoever.

    Or am I exaggerating this?
    Well I'm not too sure about that. See the Asiatic Squadron of ships that defeated the Spanish in Mannilla bay were actually based out of Mirs bay in Hong Kong. They did not sail directly from Hawaii to the Philippines. As America had no bases in the south/central pacific, they had to make due with having a 'nomadic' naval force that went to and from various major coastal cities in the region to refuel etc in order to protect American interests.

    https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.ph...File/7819/7468

    So I don't think we can say with any real certainty that America wouldn't have invaded the Philippines during the Spanish -American war if Japan had established a military presence in Hawaii prior to 1898. That said, it sure as hell would have made it a lot more difficult to supply the land invasion and war with the native Filipinos that followed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
    Interesting story but I wouldn't say that Japan was one of the premier powers in the Pacific. Aside from the United States and Spain the Japanese were the only power. After 1899 it was pretty much just Japan and USA and no I don't count Russia even though 1897 was also the year that Russia began creeping into Manchuria and "leased" Liaodong from the Qing, 1900 was the year of full on invasion of Manchuria (post 1905 I don't have to count Russia anway ). In 1899 Germany might have become one if they successfully acquired the Philippines assuming Wilhelm II and Admiral Otto von Diederichs got their way.
    Also I didn't count Britain or the Dutch since other than the South China Sea and westwards Britain had no real power in the Pacific where as the Dutch were confined to Indonesia.
    France had no power there since like 1888.
    Well while I agree the Japanese had the strongest permanent presence in the area, I still think the British and French were very much a threat. if there was a naval incident of any significance between Japan and either Britain or France, you can be pretty sure that the Europeans would escalate matters and send an expedition to punish the Japanese. The British had Hong Kong and the French had Indo China, allowing both to be within reasonable striking distance of Japanese territory. It's not too far fetched to believe that either Britain or France might have sent a large proportion of there navy to the pacific to teach Japan a lesson when you consider the epic voyage the Russians undertook in a (failed) effort to do just that!

    But that said, the French and British had basically achieved maximum capacity in terms of colonial possessions and really had little to gain from a fight with Japan. The USA on the other hand is a completely different story. I am certain that Japan and the US could well have gone to war over Hawaii, what is uncertain though, is who would have won?
    Last edited by IrishBlood; September 08, 2015 at 02:15 PM.

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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Quote Originally Posted by IrishBlood View Post
    Well I'm not too sure about that. See the Asiatic Squadron of ships that defeated the Spanish in Mannilla bay were actually based out of Mirs bay in Hong Kong. They did not sail directly from Hawaii to the Philippines. As America had no bases in the south/central pacific, they had to make due with having a 'nomadic' naval force that went to and from various major coastal cities in the region to refuel etc in order to protect American interests.

    https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.ph...File/7819/7468

    So I don't think we can say with any real certainty that America wouldn't have invaded the Philippines during the Spanish -American war if Japan had established a military presence in Hawaii prior to 1898. That said, it sure as hell would have made it a lot more difficult to supply the land invasion and war with the native Filipinos that followed.
    The Asiatic Squadron was indeed nomadic and aside from docking in Hong Kong at times it found itself docking its ships in various Pacific islands and even in Japan.

    Quote Originally Posted by IrishBlood View Post
    Well while I agree the Japanese had the strongest permanent presence in the area, I still think the British and French were very much a threat. if there was a naval incident of any significance between Japan and either Britain or France, you can be pretty sure that the Europeans would escalate matters and send an expedition to punish the Japanese. The British had Hong Kong and the French had Indo China, allowing both to be within reasonable striking distance of Japanese territory. It's not too far fetched to believe that either Britain or France might have sent a large proportion of there navy to the pacific to teach Japan a lesson when you consider the epic voyage the Russians undertook in a (failed) effort to do just that!

    But that said, but the French and British had basically achieved maximum capacity in terms of colonial possessions and really had little to gain from a fight with Japan. The USA on the other hand is a completely different story. I am certain that Japan and the US could well have gone to war over Hawaii, what is uncertain though, is who would have won?
    Britain certainly could have sent large expeditionary squadrons into the Pacific if we consider the size of their fleet alone and their bases at Hong Kong and Malaysia. France on the other hand was not exactly with these kinds of advantages. For starters the French had sent a temporary Far East Squadron in 1884/85 to fight the then not unified Chinese navy (the Fujian fleet and the Nanyang fleet) under the command of Admiral Amedee Courbet. After some short patrols along the Indochina coast and the South China Sea which lasted until about 1887 the Far East Squadron was disbanded (most of it was disbanded in 1885). Interestingly the French had attempted to establish an alliance with Japan in 1885 but was never realized due to the French wanting to expand their influence into Taiwan and Korea which Japan largely saw as their sphere but also did not want to be embroiled in French wars (and really there were a lot of other concerns namely that the Japanese did not have the army they would field in 1894 or 1905). By the late 1890's the French fleet had begun to be upgraded and redesigned and the French couldn't keep up with the British and German Naval race, France didn't really recover from this even into WW1. So after the 1880's France didn't really have the same naval capacity to start naval wars at will.

    During the Spanish-American War the Germans seriously considered buying the Philippines from Spain or joining the war on Spain's side and seizing the Philippines from the Americans. In fact George Dewey had a hell of a job ahead of him since there were rumours that Spain was going to deploy their third fleet from Spain to the Pacific and the German Pacific Fleet had been marauding the Philippines and had been spotted near Manila. If these things were to occur I don't think Dewey's Asiatic Squadron could stand up to another better Spanish fleet and the modern German fleet.

    I didn't count Russia because their naval presence in the Pacific was fairly limited. They were pretty much just an immediate threat to the Beiyang Fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy. Even then the Japanese Navy greatly outnumbered them and they were forced to send their Baltic Fleet (along with personnel from the Black Sea Fleet) to make a rather impractical trip all the way to the Pacific. Really I think the only reason Russia was able to keep a concentration of ships that far away was due to their infrastructure of Vladivostok and Port Arthur (Lushunkou) which they leased from the Qing but had no port stations of their own to refuel in their trip around Europe, Africa and Asia. The Baltic Fleet and Pacific Fleets were more or less wiped out anyway.

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    Col. Tartleton's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Hawaii should be part of New Zealand.
    Last edited by Col. Tartleton; September 07, 2015 at 09:58 PM. Reason: grammar
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Quote Originally Posted by Col. Tartleton View Post
    Hawaii should part of New Zealand.
    What an embarrassing post for the somewhat serious V V.

    Yeah for American Imperialism in Hawaii, the Phillipines, in former Mexican Territories, displaced Native Americans, etc. Just make sure no Japanese do the same.

    Not sure about 1897, but Chinese, Korean, and then Filipino immigrants followed the Japanese.
    http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroo...japanese2.html
    Last edited by RubiconDecision; September 07, 2015 at 05:22 PM.

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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Japan didn't annex Hawaii because they were afraid of the US. There was a vocal US interest group in the islands (essentially Texas 2.0), and the US had a history of walking over Japanese interests so had Japan attempted to take control of Hawaii there would have been another US intervention.

    Quote Originally Posted by RubiconDecision View Post
    What an embarrassing post for the somewhat serious V V....
    Unsure if you're serious? New Zealand "positioned" itself as the Polynesian arm of the British Empire, angling for former German pacific colonies as a reward for service in WW1. Had the British Empire pre-empted the US in the Pacific (say diverting attention from Africa-its unlikely they'd give up the fight with France to start one with the US, but it was possible) then New Zealand may have formed the political vehicle for rule over the Polynesian islands gained: certainly they saw Polynesia as their sphere of interest.

    Australia did gain control of German Papua to go with New Guinea, as well as New Ireland (fr. Neumecklenberg) etc. in a similar context: Germany lost most of its Pacific holdings to Japan (as a loyal ally of Great Britain and despite US unease) but the colonies immediately to Australia's north had been the subject of much ogling by NSW and later Australian politicians and would-be masters.
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    Col. Tartleton's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Hawaii had cultural ties to New Zealand. A form of constitutional monarchy. Anglican Religion. Spoke English.

    They had already reached out to Samoa with intention of establishing a Pan Polynesian state.

    America had no grounds for overthrowing the Hawaiian government. It was a crime, the first of many Banana Republics. American conflicts with Mexico were largely symptoms of the brewing American Civil War, the nascent illegal actions of the Confederacy. It was the work of Southern Democrats to expand slave power and the future Republicans like Lincoln and even Grant who participated in the war were very opposed to it.

    The Indian Wars are far too numerous and unique to cover in any sort of detail for this short point, but they were primarily in response to violence against settlers on the frontiers.

    Ultimately Japan would have used Hawaii for evil purposes. Which while not unique to Japan in this period do not distinguish it as remotely legitimate. Hawaii was an island in the middle of the ocean with a distinctive people and modern institutions that wasn't threatening its neighbors. I don't know how anyone could justify taking it by force. It wasn't bothering anyone and it wouldn't benefit from colonization. Hawaii was as advanced as Japan.
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    "Ultimately Japan would have used Hawaii for evil purposes. Which while not unique to Japan in this period do not distinguish it as remotely legitimate."

    Glad you at least qualified that phrase instead of demonizing the "barbaric" Japanese. It would be the ugly colonization that was happening or had already happened over indigenous autonomous people world-wide by France and Great Britain. I guess that's evil too, right? Equally barbaric?

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    Col. Tartleton's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    The point is that colonizing Hawaii in 1900 would be like colonizing Japan in 1900. They already had steamships and European fashions, they were up to date. You aren't offering them anything they didn't already have. Hawaii is an archipelago surrounded by thousands of miles of open ocean. The only country that may have felt threatened by them was Germany and the US because they both wanted Samoa which Hawaii was courting for a political union. Of course its not like Germany and the US felt threatened by Hawaii, that would be absurd. The US unintentionally conquered Hawaii without lifting a finger.
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    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    Quote Originally Posted by Col. Tartleton View Post
    The point is that colonizing Hawaii in 1900 would be like colonizing Japan in 1900. They already had steamships and European fashions, they were up to date. You aren't offering them anything they didn't already have. Hawaii is an archipelago surrounded by thousands of miles of open ocean. The only country that may have felt threatened by them was Germany and the US because they both wanted Samoa which Hawaii was courting for a political union. Of course its not like Germany and the US felt threatened by Hawaii, that would be absurd. The US unintentionally conquered Hawaii without lifting a finger.
    I see, it was an accident, not by design that the Hawaiians lost self-determination?

  20. #20

    Default Re: The Japanese almost took control of Hawaii....in 1897!

    He isn't saying that at all what are you talking about?

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