Cover image for Agony of choice : Matsuoka Yōsuke and the rise and fall of the Japanese Empire, 1880-1946
Agony of choice : Matsuoka Yōsuke and the rise and fall of the Japanese Empire, 1880-1946
Lu, David John, 1928-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Lexington Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvii, 309 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Rev. and abridged ed. of: Matsuoka Yōsuke and his times, 1880-1946.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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DS890 .M46 L8 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Agony of Choice, the life of Japanese statesman and diplomat Matsuoka Yosuke, offers a vivid narrative of twentieth-century Japanese diplomatic history. Matsuoka was an American-educated Japanese foreign minister who became a vocal advocate of Japanese expansionism in echo of the America he so admired. His promotion of alliances and relationships with countries such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, however, not only led Japan to war with the United States but also led to Matsuoka's involvement with and eventual indictment for atrocities committed during the war. Through extensive archival research and fascinating personal interviews, David Lu explores Matsuoka's pivotal role in the drama of Japan's withdrawal from the League of Nations, empire-building in Asia, and the development of interwar Japanese politics.

Author Notes

David J. Lu is Emeritus Professor of History and Japanese Studies at Bucknell University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Originally published in 1981 in a Japanese edition, this fascinating study of Matsuoka Ysuke, Japan's well-known prewar foreign minister, will be a welcome addition to literature on Japan and its international relations from the turn of the century to the outbreak of the Pacific War and beyond. In the West, Matsuoka is perhaps best known for leading the Japanese delegation out of the League of Nations in 1933 after the League refused to recognize the Japanese-sponsored regime in Manchuria. During Matsuoka's brief tenure as foreign minister, ending in July 1941, Japan entered into the Neutrality Pact with the USSR and joined Germany and Italy in the Tripartite Alliance. Matsuoka was educated in the US and had a passionate love for the country, a deep understanding of its culture, and near-native fluency in English; how did he end up helping to lead Japan into its disastrous war? This is but one of many questions Lu (emer., Bucknell Univ.) addresses in this detailed study of Matsuoka's life, personality, character, education, political career, and worldview. Lu ends with vital, open-ended questions about the many Japanese and Americans who have become comfortable in both cultures, and wonders how Matsuoka's career might have differed had he lived at a different time. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/collections. C. L. Yates Earlham College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Notes on Japanese and Chinese Namesp. xvii
Chapter 1 Early Life in Yamaguchip. 1
Chapter 2 The First American Experiencep. 6
Chapter 3 Diplomat in China, Russia, and Americap. 17
Chapter 4 From Tokyo to Versaillesp. 29
Chapter 5 Railway Politics in Manchuriap. 43
Chapter 6 Revolutionary China, SMR, and Japanese Politicsp. 52
Chapter 7 Seiyukai Politics and Shanghai Assignmentp. 66
Chapter 8 Withdrawal from the League of Nationsp. 77
Chapter 9 Political Party Dissolution Movementp. 106
Chapter 10 Manchukuo, Guandong Army, and the SMRp. 120
Chapter 11 Becoming Master of Kasumigasekip. 138
Chapter 12 Alliance with Germanyp. 154
Chapter 13 China and Southeast Asiap. 173
Chapter 14 European Tour and Neutrality Pact with USSRp. 197
Chapter 15 Approaches to the United Statesp. 213
Chapter 16 The Later Yearsp. 246
Chapter 17 Reflections and Assessmentp. 261
Appendix Books by Matsuoka Yosukep. 275
Bibliographyp. 277
Indexp. 292
About the Authorp. 308