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JAPAN SPENT CENTURIES in geographically induced and politically enforced isolation. When it opened up to the rest of the world in the second half of the 19th century, it embarked on the race to match the Western industrialized nations. With amazing speed, in less than a generation, Japan was transformed to reach this goal, and in the early 20th century, it was able to defeat Russia in war. This economic, political, and military success story had bad side-effects, as the Japanese society became very militaristic and jingoistic. What was celebrated as Samurai ethics played out as an Asian form of fascism starting in the late 1920s. Japan engaged in colonialist expansion politics and became the only Asian player in the concert of the European and ...

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