In the nineteenth century, there was a great race for colonies between the biggest imperial powers. At that time, Japan was a country with developed military forces and remarkable ambitions. Thus, in a short time, Japan colonized such countries as Korea, Taiwan, and the islands in the Pacific Ocean. The participation in the League of Nations gave Japan an opportunity to colonize the Northern Mariana Islands, Caroline Islands, and Marshall Islands with no resistance. Korea was under Japanese control for more than 30 years and Taiwan for 50 years. During the colonization period, the Japanese Empire invested in the colonies to make a bigger profit on them (Duus, 1989).
The events that happened on August 1945 completely changed the course of history. After 44 months of the fierce fighting in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Japanese city Hiroshima, and three days later the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Roughly 100,000 people were instantly killed and, even more, slowly died due to radiation poisoning (T. H. Cook & F. T. Cook, 1992). The consequences of these horrible events were forever engraved in the memory of innocent victims, “nobody there looked like human being. Humans had lost the ability to speak. People couldn’t scream. My clothes were burnt and so was my skin” (T. H. Cook & F. T. Cook, 1992, p. 385). At the same time, “the bomb ended it all” (T. H. Cook & F. T. Cook, 1992, p. 395), and that news brought relief to the citizens of the ruined cities. These events stopped the fights indeed, but the moral aspect of the attacks still remains a controversial issue among historians.
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Thus, it was the end of the Japanese Empire in 1945 and the occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers started immediately. In 1951, Japan and the Allied Powers signed the treaty of peace in order to protect the world from new fights. “Japan accepts the judgments of the International Military Tribunal, and will carry the sentences” (United Nations – Treaty Series, 1952, p. 56). The Japanese Empire disappeared and Japan lost all the colonial territories.
After the Japanese Empire had collapsed, the territories of Taiwan came under the control of China. Unfortunately, instead of getting the independence, Taiwanese citizens felt the harsh treatment of the Chinese people. The incident that happened on February 28 when an old Taiwanese widow was beaten with a rifle for selling cigarettes without a license was an example of the Chinese attitude towards Taiwanese people. The Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party) ruled the political, economic, and cultural spheres in Taiwan. The KMT confronted the local population and looted businesses (Duus, 1989).
Another territory that was a colony of the Japanese Empire was Korea. After the collapse of the empire, the future of this country was not bright as well. This territory was divided between Russia and the U.S. Thus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea appeared. As a result, the U.S. set up a pro-American democratic administration in Seoul, and the Soviet Union responded by installing a communist regime in Pyongyang. Unfortunately, these transformations had a negative result for Koreans. First of all, Korea became a victim of the struggle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. As a result, the war in Korea started again in 1950 and split the nation apart for a long time (Lee, 1997).
The U.S. and the Soviet Union also divided the islands that were Japanese colonies. For instance, on February 1947, the Kuril Islands were integrated as a part of the USSR and during only one year, more than 17,000 Japanese were deported from the islands. Even nowadays the Kuril Islands dispute is a hot topic between Japan and Russia (Duus, 1989).
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In conclusion, the Japanese Empire had control over the territories of East Asia for more than fifty years. The domination of the Japanese Empire was ended by the well-known events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a result of thousands of deaths due to atomic bombing, the Japanese Empire was destroyed. The territories of Japanese former colonies were divided between China, the USSR, and the U.S. However, instead of getting independence, these territories became puppets in the hands of their liberators.