By Antony Best (auth.)
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Extra info for British Intelligence and the Japanese Challenge in Asia, 1914–1941
His journeys included a lengthy stay in India in 1916 and a visit to Singapore and the Dutch East Indies in 1917. 67 For those concerned with the defence of Britain’s eastern interests, the growth of pan-Asian sentiment was a deeply unsettling phenomenon, as it hinted that Japan might be willing to offer support to Asian revolutionaries. With Britain’s colonies virtually defenceless as long as the war in Europe continued, this was a frightening prospect, and led to an increased sensitivity about intelligence that directly linked the Japanese community to unrest in Asia.
24 Within the Foreign Ofﬁce a number of views existed. 25 Others tried to be more objective. D. Gregory of the Far Eastern Department, who wrote a 28 British Intelligence and the Japanese Challenge in Asia memorandum in response to the General Staff, noted that, if anything, Japan’s behaviour in China had been restrained, for if it had so desired it could already have imposed a Japanese protectorate over the country. Furthermore, he observed that though some Japanese nationals undoubtedly had connections with the Indian revolutionaries there was no evidence of government involvement.
In military terms this idea found expression in the fear of a Chinese army trained and even ofﬁcered by Japanese. It was widely held at the time that the Chinese soldier was intrinsically of a high quality in terms of both obedience and endurance, but that he lacked leadership as the ofﬁcer class was irretrievably lost to The British Empire in East Asia in 1914 17 sloth, incompetence and venality. An infusion of Japanese leadership, it was held, would thus turn the abundant Chinese into a formidable ﬁghting force and pose a serious threat to the West.
British Intelligence and the Japanese Challenge in Asia, 1914–1941 by Antony Best (auth.)