Treaty Faction

Photograph of Nagano Osami

NHHC #63422

Photograph of Yonai Mitsumasa

Wikipedia Commons

Photograph of Yamamoto Isoroku

NHHC #63430

Photograph of Inoue Shigeyoshi

Dull (1978)

During the interwar years, the leadership of the Japanese Navy split over the naval disarmament treaties. The Treaty Faction favored the treaties while the Fleet Faction opposed any restrictions on construction by the Japanese Navy.

This division went back to the very beginnings of the treaty negotiation. The principal Japanese naval representative at the conference, Kato Tomosaburo, believed that the Japanese Navy was a deterrent against any American aggression, not a force preparing for inevitable war, and believed that it was folly for Japan to try to match the United States in an arms race. However, Kato Kanji, who was appointed as naval aide to the elder Kato at the conference, was a militantly nationalist proponent of building the largest fleet possible.

The Treaty Faction viewed the the Navy as an instrument of national defense rather than as a tool for imperial expansion. They also took a realistic view of the relative industrial strengths of Japan and the United States and Britain, correctly concluding that the 3:5 battleship ratio prescribed by the treaty regime was better than anything Japan was likely to achieve in an arms race. Their position should not be misinterpreted; they were in no sense internationalists, but Japanese nationalists who believed the treaties were in Japan's ultimate best interest.

The leaders of the Treaty Faction were Nagano Osami, Yonai Mitsumasa, Yamamoto Isoroku, and Inoue Shigeyoshi. All served in high positions in the Navy Ministry in the years immediately preceding the outbreak of war in the Pacific, and they generally opposed the Tripartite Pact. The seeming defection of Nagano in 1936 was an important step towards Japan's decision for war.


Evans and Peattie (1997)

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