Storm Clouds Over the Pacific – Part 1

Peter Harmsen

Storm Clouds over the Pacific 1931-1941 by Peter Harmsen is the first volume of a planned trilogy on the war in the East.

Peter writes very well. He has a good command of the sources, in particular Chinese and Japanese literature.

I highly recommend this book.

However, his editor in the back page summary has wrongly characterised the war as “a vast war fought between China and Japan”. Nothing is further than the truth. It was, pure and simple, an invasion by Japan to secure Chinese land to create a Japanese empire. In emulation of the West’s imperialism. (see p 10 Harmsen).

Harmsen himself mischaracterised the relationship between China and Japan as “ancient foes” and ‘ traditional enmity”.

He posits two isolated battles in support. The naval battle in 663 ADS between the Tang and the Yamato dynasty in support of rival kingdoms in Korea. The 2nd battle was the invasion fleet sent by the Mongols Yuan dynasty in 1280 to invade Japan.

Readers of China and Japan history would know the years of peace between these two ancient countries before the war hawks took over the Japanese government in the late 19th century.

The Heian era (794- 1185) in Japan was a rich flowering of Chinese arts and culture and zen Buddhism in the Japanese court due to absorption of Chinese culture and Buddhism.

Lwh@ RPP Singapore
No 2 Holt Road, 249442, Singapore

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