Kimura Mitsuhiko, 'The Economics of Japanese Imperialism in Korea, 1910-1939', The Economic History Review 48/3: 555-574.
In this well-argued and thoroughly researched (have a look at the list of references) article, Kimura Mitsuhiko predominantly rejects the presuppositions of studies on Japanese imperialism that take the theories of Hobson and Lenin as their starting point. In the latter view, capitalism is eventually tantamount to imperialism: with markets that must at a certain point become saturated, imperialism is considered the political means to find an outlet for the forces of capital, and secure profit that would otherwise be brought to a halt.
The article attacks this Hobson-Leninist view of Japanese imperialism from several of its presumptions, which are each refuted:
- 'Korea provided an important market for Japanese manufacturing industry';
- 'Imports from Korea profited the Japanese industrial class'; again Kimura explains this has not been the case.
- 'Japanese investment in colonial Korea eas highly profitable': "The colonial returns (of investment, M.S.) did not amount to much. Previous research (...) has shown that Japanese investment in Korea (by residents and non-residents) produced corporate profits, interests and agricultural rent totalling 133 million yen in 1930 and 373 million yen in 1940. This was only 3 percent of non-agricultural property income generated in Japan (the latter coming to 4,210 million yen in 1930 and 11,724 million yen in 1940; ...)" (p. 563)
- Rather than being able to use colonial administration for profit to the Japanese government, the cost of colonial administration was paid by the Japanese taxpayer, in the form of a general subsidy to help run the colony and military outlays.
- "To sum up, in assessing the impact of Japanese imperialism on the home economy, gains and losses from the increased imports of rice occupy a central place. This policy benefited imperial workers to the detriment of farmers; the gain was greater for lower income earners spending a higher proportion of their income on rice. Imperialism thus served as a device for redistributing income from farmers to workers, especially to lower income earners. By contrast, the economic interests of investors and industrialists as a whole were unaffected." p. 568
- Important: "Though sharply opposing unrestricted imports of colonial rice, however, farmers never expressed opposition to the actual occupation of Korea. On the contrary, this 'rural crisis' rapidly bred nationalist-fascist attitudes among farmers after the First World War; the militarists and the rightists led farmers to believe that a key solution to their econ omic problems was further imperial expansion abroad, not abandonment of the colony. As a result, farmers wholeheartedly supported Japanese imperialist policy. This reveals a paradox, that a loser in the imperial game became an 'imperialist'." p. 569