Japan and Italy Squabble over Ethiopia:

the Sugimura Affair of July 1935


J. Calvitt Clarke III

Jacksonville University


       Few today appreciate the crucial role that the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935 and 1936 played in interwar diplomacy—followed as it was by the climactic events in China, Spain, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Second World War itself.


       In truth, the Italo-Ethiopian War presaged the coming conflagration in significant ways, and Ethiopians, for their part, consider their lost war as the opening salvo of World War II. For the Soviets, in many ways the most perspicacious observers of the international scene in the mid-1930s, the war destroyed all hope for their original conception of Collective Security. They had sought to stitch together Britain, France, and Italy, with Rome’s allies (Hungary and Austria) and Paris’ allies (Romania, Czechoslovak, and Yugoslavia). This net would ensnare Germany so tightly as to prevent Hitler from taking even the first step toward aggression. Moscow’s Collective Security also sought to unite Britain, France, Italy, China, and the United States against Japan’s encroachments on the Asian continent.[1] For Germany, the war offered the first opportunity to wedge Italy apart from the other powers sufficiently to allow room for maneuver. For millions of black Africans and their diaspora throughout the New World, the war became a central rallying cry for their assertions of national independence and personal freedom.[2] For Italian Fascists, the war seemed to presage the recreation of Rome—although a mere five years later it meant only that this outpost of an overextended imperial regime became the first loss of Axis conquests. At the same time, Italy’s anti-Fascists saw Ethiopia’s guerrilla war against occupation as the first blow in Italy’s Resistance Movement after 1943.[3]


       Ethiopians do not use family names and commonly go only by their first names; when necessary, they will also use their father’s first name. This paper will cite Ethiopian names according to Ethiopian practice, i.e, first name, then father’s first name. Japanese, on the other hand, use their family first. Again, this paper will conform to Japanese practice, i.e., family name, then first name.


For Japan, the war marked a diplomatic volte face and the first step toward an alliance with Germany and Italy. The Sugimura Affair was the yeast in that diplomatic brew.


As Italy’s dispute with Ethiopia grew during 1934 and 1935, Japan’s leading nationalists, particularly “Pan-Asianists,” promoted a “solidarity movement” with Ethiopia. Between 1927 and 1937, some 634 right-wing groups with 122,000 members were organized in Japan. These nationalists exalted the emperor above the constitution, and seeking “Renovation” they wanted to create a “National Defense State.”[4]


For more on Japanese attitudes toward Ethiopia, see Okakura Takashi and Kitagawa Katsuhiko, Nihon-Afurika Koryu-shi: Meiji-ki kara Dainiji Sekaitaisen-ki made [Japanese-African Relations: From the Meiji Period to the Second World War] (Tokyo, 1993), 18–23 and Aoki Sumio and Kurimoto Eisei, “Japanese Interest in Ethiopia (1868–1940): Chronology and Bibliography,” Ethiopia in Broader Perspectives, 1: 713–28. Listing assassination among their weapons to coerce government policy, they became influential within the military and bureaucracy.


       A most urgent supporter of Ethiopia was one of the ultranationalist groups, the Amur River Society [Kokuryu Kai, often misnamed the “Black Dragon Society” in English]. In June, the Kokuryu Kai organized Ethiopian Crisis Committee [Echiopia Mondai Iinkai]. Its membership saw the conflict between Italy and Ethiopia as pitting white and colored peoples against one another. Further, Japan was obligated to support Ethiopia which admired, praised, and respected Japan.[5] Similarly, members of the Japanese-Ethiopian Society [Nihon Echiopia Kyokai] and the Great Japanese Turan Youth League [Dai Nihon Turan Seinen Renmei] prayed: “We wish the wrong-doings of the whites to be punished, and our friend Ethiopia achieve victory.”[6]


Several other nationalist associations supporting Ethiopia were established by October 1935. The Ethiopian Defense Society [Echiopia Boei Domeikai] was formed in July and Ethiopian Comrades’ Rescue Society [Echiopia Kyuen Doushikai] in August. Other nationalist groups such as the Pan-Asianism Society [Dai Ajia Shugi Kyokai], the Japan-Turan Association [Dainihon Tsuran Renmei], and the Patriotic Youth Association [Aikoku Seinen Renmei], strongly supported Ethiopia. The Patriotic Women’s Association [Aikoku Fujin Kai] offered medical equipment to Ethiopia. Students organized pro-Ethiopian groups in campuses. Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations,” 10–11; Furukawa, Japanese-Ethiopian Relations,” 11; New York Times, Sept. 22, 1935.


       Throughout the world many quickened at the excitement of the coming racial struggle. As just one example, one of America’s premier black newspapers, the Chicago Defender, breathlessly expected that once war broke out, thousands of highly trained Japanese with modern equipment would “go tramping through African hinterlands to the aid of their darker brothers on the lofty plateaus of Ethiopia.” The paper also claimed that the Japanese navy had been conducting deep-sea maneuvers in the Red Sea within easy reach of Mas’uwa and predicted that within a week’s notice scores of these “swift relentless cruisers from the third largest navy in the world” would “dump tons of explosives under Mussolini’s very nose in Africa.”[7]


       Feeding off such sentiments, the Soviet press reported in February 1935 that the Japanese ambassador in Rome had protested the mobilization of Italian troops and had sharply stated that Japan would “categorically oppose any occupation of Abyssinia.” Italy’s military action against Ethiopia was, the press said, a demonstration aimed at Japan more than at Ethiopia.[8] The Soviets, well into 1935, continued with these themes, which unctuously justified Italian belligerence by claiming that Japanese trade inroads into Ethiopia naturally offended Italy.[9]


       At odds with its own nationalists, the Japanese Gaimusho [foreign ministry] criticized Japan’s press and nationalists for their provocative commentary and thereby emphasized the government’s moderate position toward Italy. Japan’s police kept close track of the pro-Ethiopian activities of the Kokuryu Kai and other nationalist groups.[10]


       Putting an exclamation point to this moderate stance—if that is the right metaphor for denying rumors of interest in a matter—on July 10, 1935, Amau Eiji, a Gaimusho spokesman, denied that Emperor Hirohito was contemplating any move to help his brother emperor, Haile Sellassie, and even that Japan had diplomatic representation in Ethiopia. He rejected rumors that Japan was shipping munitions to Ethiopia or that Japan had persuaded Ethiopia to buy Japanese products in preference to Italian. Amau blamed exaggerated notions of Japanese interests in Ethiopia on Soviet sources. He emphasized Japan’s determination, however, to protect its commercial interests and added: “We are naturally greatly concerned with any danger of war. War in any part of the world is bound to affect all other parts.”[11]


       Following the Gaimusho’s line, Japan’s ambassador to Rome, Dr. Sugimura Yotaro visited Mussolini on Tuesday, July 16, 1935. Not for the first time he assured the Duce that Japan, despite its commercial interests, held no political interests in Ethiopia and would maintain neutrality in Italy’s coming war. The Italians publicized this statement as a communique, and Italy’s press put the matter plainly: “This solemn statement is the more important as it puts an end to all rumors which have circulated lately.”[12]


On July 12 while visiting Montreal, Viscount Mushanokoji, Japan’s ambassador to Germany, had repeated that his country had only a commercial interest in Ethiopia. Mushanokoji, who had built up Japan’s trade with Haile Selassie’s empire, suggested that the Japanese felt about the situation exactly as they expected the rest of the world felt about Japan’s operations in Manchuria, “a domestic matter of vital importance only to the two nations concerned.” New York Times, July 13, 1935.


       Although what Sugimura had said was not much different from what Gaimusho spokesmen had long been saying, a popular storm soon engulfed Japan. Inspired newspaper articles accused Sugimura of having exceeded his instructions. And Sugimura’s “slip of the tongue” in giving “a kind of verbal pledge” to the Duce caused furor in the Gaimusho, where some of its younger officials demanded his immediate recall.[13]


       An upset Hirota Koki, Japan’s foreign minister, grilled his ambassador about why he had spoken so clearly. On July 18, Sugimura responded that he had agreed to Italy’s communique because, despite Japan’s natural sympathy for Ethiopia, Mussolini was using the “Yellow Peril” bogey to threaten whites in Europe and the United States.[14] Over the next several days Sugimura spoke with the Japanese and Italian presses trying to mollify opinion in both governments and publics.[15]


       Italy’s ambassador to Tokyo, Giacinto Auriti, called on Hirota at the Gaimusho on Friday afternoon, July 19, to ask about Tokyo’s “real” intentions in view of the anti-Sugimura reaction in Japan. Hirota confirmed that Japan’s interest in Ethiopia was mainly commercial. The previous October, he pointed out, when Sugimura had left for Rome, he had been instructed to dispel rumors that Japan was politically active in Ethiopia and wanted to sell arms and ammunition there. On the other hand, while Hirota himself had told the Italian ambassador that Japan intended to establish a legation in Addis Ababa to strengthen commercial ties, he had not instructed Sugimura “to make the statement ascribed to him.” Japan, as a friend of both Ethiopia and Italy, wished that their problems would be resolved peacefully and quickly.[16]


       Not much distinguished Hirota’s statement from Sugimura’s except their tone. Hirota had added that, not yet knowing whether there would be peace or war, Japan was going to watch developments and would reserve the right to comment. Unfortunately, in trying to clarify Sugimura’s statement, Hirota invited Italy’s further upset.[17]


       Luigi Mariani, counselor of the Italian Embassy, on Friday evening and again the next morning complained to Amau about the attitude of Japan’s press. He also insisted that the Italo-Ethiopian treaty of 1928 had stipulated that Ethiopia would welcome Italian merchandise, and he argued that it breached that treaty when Ethiopia welcomed Japanese goods over Italian. Amau answered, as often before, that the influx of Japanese merchandise was due to their quality and price.[18]


       Concerned at the uproar back home, on July 20 Sugimura sped telegrams to the Gaimusho explaining that he had told Mussolini that Japan did not intend to interfere in the Italo-Ethiopian conflict and did not have any political interests in Ethiopia. He asked if his statements conformed, in fact, to Japanese policy. Hoping to end rumors rife in foreign newspapers that Japan would intervene, the ambassador explained that he had tried to make Japan’s attitude clear to rid the Duce of his suspicion that Japan was sending military supplies to Ethiopia. Mussolini, he said, had suggested publicizing these statements as a communique, and he had agreed.[19]


       Officials and citizens in both countries were confused about exactly what Sugimura had said, and, more important, the meaning of Hirota’s efforts to modify Sugimura’s assurances. Pugnacious presses muddied the waters. This paper is too short to unravel the virulently racial charges and countercharges leveled over the next several days.[20] Hirota’s attitude, however, clearly shocked Rome, where it seemed little short of an open declaration of hostility. The Giornale d’Italia got to the nub of the matter—and the Moscow Daily News happily and provocatively passed the opinion on:


Notwithstanding the clear statement of the Japanese ambassador in Rome, Japan is now trying to deny this statement and to demonstrate a complete and hostile solidarity with Abyssinia against Italy.[21]


Even though Italy fulsomely attacked Japanese brazenness, duplicity, and hypocrisy, in truth, Japan’s position represented an unhoped-for bonanza for Italy’s propaganda in Europe in favor of its East African venture.[22] Meanwhile, Japan’s press and nationalist groups continued to attack Sugimura and Italy and to praise Ethiopia.[23]


            Guards protected the Japanese embassy in Rome and an Italian legation in Japan.[24] Sugimura, personally popular in Italy especially in sporting circles, was one of the few to stay calm as he rationally tried to mollify Italian opinion and to make Tokyo aware of obvious truths—not the least was that Japan was too far away to affect materially the outcome of any war between Ethiopia and Italy. To try to do so would needlessly and foolishly make an enemy of Rome. He especially warned that publicizing Japan’s political ambition toward Ethiopia as a general conflict between the colored and white races would backfire because Rome was clearly trying to draw London and Paris into aiding Italy.[25]


            Taking his own advice to act cautiously, Sugimura spent July 22 at an aristocratic seaside resort, Castelo Fusano, near Rome enjoying his favorite sport, swimming.[26]


            On the evening of July 26, 100,000 demonstrated in Rome. The well-organized crowd gathered at 1:00 p.m. near the Ministero delle Esteri [foreign ministry] where General Achilles Starace, secretary of the Fascist Party, harangued them. Afterward they marched through the streets singing Fascist revolutionary songs and shouting, “Down with England, Ethiopia, and Japan.” Carrying huge posters and banners, including “Rome will save Europe,” they marched to the Palazzo Venezia and cheered for Mussolini, but he did not appear. The government stationed two hundred carbonari at each of the British and Japanese embassies and guarded the Ethiopian consulate.[27]


            Mussolini in an unsigned article in Popolo d’Italia of July 31 laid bare the realpolitik lurking behind the mask of racial politics:


[T]he Abyssinians are not negroes; they consider themselves Semites. Besides, Fascism would never raise the race question. Not even civilization is the object that Italy has in view. Civilization, too, will be only a consequence of the Italian policy.


    The essential arguments, absolutely unanswerable, are two: the vital needs of the Italian people and their security in East Africa.[28]


                   By virtue of the treaty signed in 1930 among Great Britain, France, Italy, and Ethiopia to regulate the importation of arms and munitions into the East Africa, Mussolini believed that Italy had the right to act as Ethiopia’s military patron.[29] Japan’s perceived penetration of Ethiopia, done in the midst of Haile Selassie’s effort to modernize his army particularly hyperventilated Italy—fires which Moscow eagerly stoked.[30] Italian newspapers claimed that Japanese officers had been retained to instruct and reorganize Ethiopia’s troops—charges consistently denied in both Addis Ababa and Tokyo.[31]


                        In fact, on August 2, Ethiopia’s minister asked Sugimura for Japanese aid. Beyond Italian intransigence and the hard truth of Sugimura’s understanding of the situation, Haile Selassie’s hopes for Japanese arms were doomed. Importing weapons from Japan was difficult. The Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railroad refused to transport weapons, leaving only the camel route from Kenya and Sudan. Revealing his desperation, the Ethiopian minister wondered if Japan could send submarines to sink Italian transport ships! A more modest alternative, he allowed, would be for Japan to state officially its support for Ethiopia. Sugimura refused to do either.[32]


                        By August 7, the Japan Times had reported that July’s misunderstanding between Rome and Tokyo over the Ethiopian issue was generally regarded in Italy as having ended. The press had published and was satisfied with the Gaimusho’s denial of reports that Japan was sending arms and a commercial mission to Addis Ababa.[33] Italo-Japanese reconciliation had begun—and along the realistic lines Japan’s ambassador had sought.[34]


                        Trying to provoke Rome against Tokyo, for a while the soviet press continued to fan rumors of Japanese military support for Ethiopia.[35] By late August, however, the Kremlin had reappraised the situation. On August 27, the Soviet press examined the rapprochement between Italy and Japan and repeated the comments of the Giornale d’Italia:


                       The position which the Japanese press is now taking on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute shows that a clash between Italy and Japan is not possible in the historical events now developing, and that both nations can be only in one camp….More than ever before Italy and Japan should recognize that their fates are identical, just as the means they consider necessary for realizing their aims are the same.  Both Italy and Japan needed expansion, and both had encountered League resistance, added the paper. This identity “of interests of Italy and Japan can only lead to unity in viewpoint and position and to political solidarity against all hostile forces.” The paper concluded with an assurance that Italy’s claims on Ethiopia in no way encroached on Japanese interests; Italy was not striving for a monopoly or a “closed door” in Ethiopia.[36]


            By September 13, Amau was agreeing that Japan’s attitude was “that of a spectator watching a fight from a high window.” Tokyo’s attitude remained one of watchful waiting and protection of Japan’s commercial interests.[37] By September 21, the Nichi Nichi dared analyze the advantages Japan might expect to reap if Italy and Ethiopia went to war.[38]


            Hopeful at encouraging Japan’s support, Ethi opia’s foreign minister, Daba Birrou, toured Japan to grand fanfare in September and October 1935.[39]


            For a while, private, nationalist opinion in Japan continued to favor Ethiopia. Aoki and Kurimoto, “Japanese Interest in Ethiopia,” 1: 720; Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations,” 11; Furukawa, “Japanese-Ethiopian Relations,” 11–12. Of one reception Western newspapers pointed out that Daba Birrou, “young,” “coal-black,” and English-speaking, appeared dazed by the amount of hand shaking by elderly patriots. He did not realize, however, that no Japanese of importance was present.[40] A snide, but accurate, appraisal by western sources.      Impressed by Britain’s firmness, Japan briefly—but only briefly—considered joining League of Nations sanctions. Sugimura’s policy had always been official Japan’s.[41]


            Popular sympathy in Japan, though not greatly excited, remained with Ethiopia. There were public lectures, and documentary films about Ethiopia appeared at movie theaters. Cultural exhibitions of Ethiopia at department stores attracted many visitors. An “Ethiopian Cafe” was opened in Tokyo and refused Italian customers.[42] The crisis also provided topics for popular dramas, short stories, and magazine cartoons. Japan’s nationalist groups remained vocal if impotent. Inspired by Daba Birrou’s visit, the Ethiopian Problems Society telegraphed the foreign minister at Addis Ababa:


The Japanese nation indignantly condemns Italian aggression. God bless righteous Ethiopia. In a war air raids are not the deciding factor. Never lose courage. Transmit this message to your commanders.


In Kochi Prefecture around Tei village stores to this day sell “Ethiopia Manjuu”‑‑a shiny, brown, sweet, steamed dumpling stuffed with azuki bean paste—and named in the 1930s to show solidarity with the Ethiopian people.[43]


            At the last stages of the war, criticism in Japanese newspapers tended to focus on the League’s unreliability and Britain’s weak diplomacy rather than on Italy’s aggression. The “solidarity” movement among Japanese nationalists died out rapidly as attentions turned toward China and militaristic domestic reforms.[44]


            After the war’s end, Germany recognized Italy’s annexation to encourage Italy’s approval of Nazi aggression in the Rhineland. Japan also began to negotiate with Italy about approval of its activities in both Ethiopia and China. Japan abolished its legation established on January 1, 1936, and reorganized its representation as a consulate in Addis Ababa in November—in effect recognizing Italy’s annexation officially. Italy guaranteed Japanese trade profits in Ethiopia and granted Tokyo its official approval of its puppet state in Manchuria.[45]Jordan to Arita, 11/18/36: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1 Vol. 8. This followed an earlier letter in which he decried Italy’s abuse of Ethiopia: “[O]nly unity between AFRICA and ASIA will overcome this great trouble.” Jordan letter, 5/12/36: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–2 vol. 2.


            However, Italy betrayed its promises on trade concessions. Business for foreign merchants became more difficult, and the Addis Ababa branch of the firm of Mishima Shoten, the only Japanese business there, was forced to close down, a “complete violation of our commercial rights, complained the Japanese.”[46]


            Nonetheless, the Italo-Japanese rapprochement, begun after the Sugimura Affair, quickly culminated in the Anti-Comintern Pact which by November 1937 had united Italy and Japan with Germany and helped pave the way to World War II.[47]


* * *

Dr. Clarke received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He ist he past President of the Florida Conference of Historians. He is working on a book which will discuss the story of relations between Moscow, Tokyo, Addis Ababa, and Rome during the Italo-Ethiopian War.




[1]J. Calvitt Clarke III, Russia and Italy Against Hitler: The Bolshevik-Fascist Rapprochement of the 1930s (New Haven, CT, 1991), esp. 163–84.


[2]See, e.g., William R. Scott, The Sons of Sheba’s Race: African-Americans and the Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935–1941 (Bloomington, 1993); Joseph E. Harris, African-American Reactions to War in Ethiopia, 1936–1940 (Baton Rouge, 1994); and S. K. B. Asante, Pan-African Protest: West Africa and the Italo-Ethiopian Crisis, 1934–1941 (London, 1977).


[3]There is a growing literature on Ethiopian resistance to Italian occupation. See, e.g., the several articles in Ethiopia in Broader Perspectives: Papers of the XIIIth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, 3 vols., Fukui Katsuyoshi and Shigeta Masayoshi (Kyoto, 1997): Alberto Sbacchi, “The Recognition of the Italian Empire 1936–1938,” 1: 247–62; Tesema Ta’a, “The Bonayyaa Incident and the Italian Occupation of Naqemtee (1936–1941),” 1: 263–285; and Wudu Tafete Kassu, “Däjjazmac Haylu Käbbädä and the Patriotic Resistance Movement in Wag, 1935–41,” 1: 97–110. See as well Uoldelul Chelati Dirar, “Italian Colonialism in Walqayt: The Case of Masfen Aeddu,” unpublished paper presented to the XIIIth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Kyoto, Japan, Dec. 1997; Richard Pankhurst, “Emperor Haile Selassie’s Litigation in England to Reassert the Independence of Ethiopia during the Italian Occupation in 1937 and 1938,” Ethiopia Observer 14 (1971): 3–9; Richard Pankhurst, “The Ethiopian Patriots and the Collapse of Italian Rule in East Africa, 1940–41,” Ethiopia Observer 12 (1969): 92–127; Richard Pankhurst, “The Ethiopian Patriots: The Lone Struggle, 1936–1940,” Ethiopia Observer 13 (1970): 40–56; and Egziabher Salome Gabre, “The Ethiopian Patriots, 1936–1941.” Ethiopia Observer 12 (1969): 63–91.


[4]Furukawa Tetsushi, “Japan’s Political Relations with Ethiopia, 1920s–1960s: A Historical Overview,” unpublished paper presented to the 35th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, Seattle, WA, Nov. 20–23, 1992, 10; Furukawa Tetsushi, “JapaneseEthiopian Relations in the 192030s: The Rise and Fall of ‘Sentimental’ Relations,” paper presented at the 34th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, St. Louis, MO, Nov. 1991. 10.


One Renovationist in the Research Division, Nimiya Takeo, wrote a 152-page pamphlet, “The Unique Principles Guiding Japanese Diplomacy.” Although influential, it was not officially published until December 1936. Part II of the pamphlet, “The Asian Racial Movement and the Principle of Asia for the Asians,” emphasized that an expansionist policy was defensible only if built on racial nationalism. Part III, “The Japanese Racial Spirit as the Guiding Principle of Diplomacy” asserted that traditional Japanese morality, not western imperialism, had to guide expansion. An aggressive diplomacy possibly leading to war was tenable only if based on idealism. The pamphlet demanded the building of a new order in which Japan would assume leadership. Ohata Tokushiro, “The Anti-Comintern Pact, 1935–1939,” in James William Morely, Deterrent Diplomacy: Japan, Germany, and the USSR, 1935–1940, Selected translations from: Taiheiyo senso no michi: kaisen gaiko shi (New York, 1976), 10–15.


[5]See Okakura and Kitagawa, Nihon-Afurika Koryu-shi, 17–61; Richard Albert Bradshaw, “Japan and European Colonialism in Africa, 1800–1937" (PhD dissertation, Ohio University, 1992), 291–311; and Herui Wolde Selassie, Dai Nipon [Great Japan], Forward by Baron Shidehara Kijuro, trans. Oreste Vaccari and Enko Vaccari (Tokyo, 1934). Originally published in Amharic, Mahidere Birhan: Hagre Japan [The Document of Japan] (Addis Ababa, 1934). Shidehara was foreign minister between 1924–27 and 1929–31; he served as prime minister from 1945–46. For the perceived similarities between Japan and Ethiopia, see Messay Kebede, “Japan and Ethiopia: An Appraisal of Similarities and Divergent Courses,” in Ethiopia in Broader Perspectives, 639–51 and Donald N. Levine, “Ethiopia and Japan in Comparative Civilization Perspective,” in Ethiopia in Broader Perspectives, 1: 652–75. Also see Ishihara Hideko, “First Contacts Between Ethiopia and Japan,” unpublished paper presented to the XIIIth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Kyoto, Japan, Dec. 1997.


[6]Turan, Mar. 1, 1935, no. 4, published by Daido sha, Nihon Echiopia Kyokai and Dai Nihon Turan Seinen Renmei: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–2 vol. 1.


[7]Chicago Defender, July 13, 1935.


[8]Izvestia, Feb. 14, 1935; Moscow Daily News, Feb. 14, 1935.


[9]The Soviets had long tried to stir up Italo-Japanese antagonisms. Long articles in the Russian press at the turn of the year, e.g., had declared that the African state had thus far maintained its independence thanks only to the tripartite Italo-French-British rivalry. But now, the advance of Japanese capital and dumping in Ethiopia threatened all three, and Italy had received tacit support from London and Paris to establish with force the economic privileges which the negus had not voluntarily conceded. Pravda, Dec. 16, 1934; Za industrialisatsiu, Dec. 15, 1934; Attolico to Rome, 12/20/34, 2/16/35: Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Direzione Generale degli Affari Politici, URSS (Rome) [hereafter cited as MAE (Rome) AP URSS] b(usta) 15 f(oglio) 2.


[10]Asahi Shinbun (Tokyo), July 11, 1935; Oguri to Goto, 6/5/35; Oguri to Goto and Hirota, 7/20/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–2 vol. 1; New York Times, July 11, 1935.


[11]Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, July 11, 1935; Chicago Daily News, July 10, 1935: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–2 vol. 1; Iranian papers printed these denials. Okamoto to Hirota, 8/26/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1, vol. 2. See also Cape Times, Jan. 4, 1935: Record Office (Tokyo), E424 1–3–1; New York Times, July 11, 1935; and Japan Times, July 11, 1935.


[12]Moscow Daily News, July 21, 1935; Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi. Nov. 13, 1934, July 18, 1935; Japan Times, July 18, 21 1935; New York Times, July 17, 1935; Taura Masanori, “I. E. Funso to Nihon gawa Taio: Showa 10 nen Sugimura Seimei Jiken wo Chushin ni,” [Italo-Ethiopian Conflict and the Japanese Response] Nihon Rekishi [Japanese History] 526 (Mar. 1992): 79–80; Taura Masanori, “Nichii Kankei to sono Yotai (1935–36): Echiopia Senso wo meguru Nihon gawa Taio kara” [Italo-Japanese Relations and Their Conditions (1935–36): From the Japanese Response to the Ethiopian War] in Takashi Ito, ed., Nihon Kindai-shi no Sai Kochiku (Tokyo, 1993), 305.


[13]Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, July 20, 1935; New York Times, July 19, 1935; The Times (London), July 20, 1935; Japan Times, July 20, 21, 1935; Moscow Daily News, July 21, 1935; Taura, “I. E. Funso to Niho gawa Taio,” 80.


[14]Taura, “I. E. Funso to Nihon gawa Taio,” 81–82.


[15]Italy, Ministero degli Affari Esteri, I documenti diplomatici italiani [hereafter cited as DDI], (Rome, 1953–), 8th (series), (vol.) 1: no. 555;” Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, July 18, 20, 1935; Japan Times, July 21, 1935; New York Times, July 20, 1935; Moscow Daily News, July 21, 1935.


[16]Taura, “I. E. Funso to Nihon gawa Taio,” 82–83; Taura Masanori, “Nihon-Echiopia Kankei ni miru 1930s nen Tsusho Gaiko no Iso” [A Phase of the 1930s Commercial Diplomacy in the Japanese-Ethiopian Relations], Seifu to Minkan [Government and Civilians], Nenpo Kindai Nihon Kenkyu [Annual Report, Study of Modern Japan], 17 (1995): 158–59; New York Times, July 20, 1935; The Times (London), July 20, 1935; Moscow Daily News, July 8, 21, 1935; Japan Times, July 21, 1935.


[17]Taura, “I. E. Funso to Nihon gawa Taio,” 82–83; Japan Times, July 22, 1935; Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, July 21, 1935.


[18]New York Times, July 21, 1935; Japan Times, July 21, 22, 1935; Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, July 20, 21, 1935.


[19]Sugimura to Hirota, 7/20/35; 7/20/5: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–7 vol. 1; Taura, “I. E. Funso to Nihon gawa Taio,” 80–81.


[20]William H. Fort, “Italy Aghast at Japan’s Unexpected Hostility to Plans,” Chicago Daily News, July 22, 1935: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–2 vol. 1; Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, July 21, 1935; Japan Times, July 24, 1935. 


[21]Moscow Daily News, July 24, 1935.


[22]Sugimura to Hirota, 7/23/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–7 vol. 1; New York Times, July 23, 24, 1935; Japan Times, July 23, 24, 25, 1935; The Times (London), July 23, 1935.


[23]Fujita to Hirota, 7/30/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–2 vol. 1; Japan Times, July 21, 26, 1935; Taura, “I. E. Funso to Nihon gawa Taio,” 82; The Times (London), July 25, 1935; New York Times, July 25, 1935.


[24]New York Times, July 21, 23, 1935; Japan Times, July 24, 25, 1935.


[25]Sugimura to Hirota, 7/27/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1 I, vol. 1;” Sugimura to Hirota, 7/31/35; Sato to Hirota, 7/27/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–7, vol. 1; Sato to Hirota, 8/31/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1 vol. 2. See The Times (London), July 23, 1935; Moscow Daily News, July 24, 1935; New York Times, July 23, 1935; Japan Times, July 24, Aug. 8, 1935; Taura, “Nichii Kankei to sono Yotai (1935–36),” 305–06.


[26]Japan Times, July 24, 1935.


[27]Sugimura to Hirota, 7/31/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–7, vol. 1; Japan Times, July 27, 28, 1935.


[28]The Times (London), Aug. 1, 1935. In a long article, the Japan Times on February 13, 1935 analyzed the Ethiopian situation. Underlying Mussolini’s ambitions were two points, wrote the paper. The first was to show Italy’s ability to acquire more territory and to expand its colonial empire; the second was Italy’s desire to beat France, Germany, and especially Japan to the control of the vast potential sales to Ethiopia’s millions. On the other hand, the paper continued, the Ethiopian considered himself to be vastly superior to the white man. After a short, sympathetic history of Ethiopia, the paper added that recently Japan and Germany had appeared on the economic horizon, sending their salesmen to unload quantities of “cheap gimcracks which so fascinate semi-civilized populations.”


For a discussion of Italy’s racial policies, see Pankhurst, “The Lone Struggle,” 40–56.


[29]The Times (London), Aug. 22, 1930.


[30]The bulletin of the Central Executive Committee of the Uzbek Republic, charged that it was difficult to buy Sugimura’s statement that Japan did not have any interests in Ethiopia because Japanese imperialism had started to take a special interest in Ethiopia in 1931 and 1932 and because Japanese goods had flowed in. Japan had acquired a 1,000,000-acre concession in Ethiopia for cotton growing. Japan’s advance had stirred alarm among the Great Powers, especially Italy and Britain, and the imperial countries cooperated with each other to restrain Japan in Ethiopia. Japan intended to use the Ethiopian issue to get a compromise from the great powers in China over the Far Eastern issue. Kitada to Hirota, 8/21/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1 vol. 2.


[31]See, e.g., DDI, 8th, 1: nos. 61, 82, 170, 174, 177, 195, 205, 217, 220, 247, 304, 436, 528, 552, 560, 601, 607, 628, 641, and 701; Izumi Tetsu, “Italy’s Aim Approved Though Policy to Ethiopia Condemned,” Contemporary Opinions on Contemporary Topics (Jan. 9, 1936): 10–12; Moscow Daily News, July 28, 1935; Japan Times, Aug. 8, 10, 11, 30, 1935; The Times (London), Feb. 28, Aug. 7, 9, 10, 1935; New York Times, Dec. 27, 1934, Aug. 5, 7, 9, 13, 29, 30, Oct. 6, 1935; Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations,” 12.


[32]Sugimura to Hirota, 8/3–4/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–7 vol. 1. This was not Japan’s first rebuff of Ethiopia. The acting minister of Ethiopia to Italy, Yesus Ghebre had asked Sugimura for Japanese support in December 1934; Sugimura then also had avoided a concrete response. Gaimusho and military officials rejected the idea of giving aid. Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations,” 11; Furukawa, Japanese-Ethiopian Relations,” 12. On Aug. 8, the Ethiopian minister in London tried to encourage Japan to supply weapons to Ethiopia—with no success. Fujii to Hirota, 8/8–9/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–7 vol. 1. 


[33]Japan Times, Aug. 9, 1935; New York Times, Aug. 10, 1935.


[34]Sugimura to Hirota, Aug. 16, 1935; Aug. 19, 1935; Aug. 31, 1935; see also Okamoto to Hirota, 8/26/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1, vol. 2.


[35]Moscow Daily News, Aug. 26, 1935. Japan’s representatives commented on the continuing interest of the Soviet press in the Sugimura Affair and Italy’s antagonism toward Japan over Ethiopia as well as the Japanese threat to the Soviet Union through Korea and China. Kitada to Hirota, Aug. 21, 1935: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1 vol. 2.


[36]Moscow Daily News, Aug. 27, 1935. Showing how much the Soviet position had changed, Izvestia charged that Japan, in not opposing Italian aggression in Northeast Africa, was ignoring the 1932 Abyssinian-Japanese Trade Agreement. The paper’s fears were transparent. In approving of Italy’s designs, it charged, Japan expected a similar understanding of its own ambitions in China. Izvestia, Oct. 28, 1935.


 [37]New York Times, Sept. 14, 1935.


 [38]Ibid., Sept. 22, 1935.


 [39]Osaka Mainichi & Tokyo Nichi Nichi, Aug. 13, 1935; New York Times, Aug. 9, 13, 1935, Sept. 14, 19, 20, Oct. 6, 1935; The Times (London), Aug. 9, 10, Sept. 20, 1935; Japan Times, Aug. 10, 11, 13, Sept. 12, 14, 1935; Moscow Daily News, Aug. 11, Sept. 20, 1935; Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations,” 10; Okakura Takashi, “1930 Nendai no Nihon-Echiopia Kankei,” [Japanese-Ethiopian Relations in the 1930s], Afurika Kenkyu, 37 (Dec. 1990): 61–62; Angelo Del Boca, La guerra d’Abissinia (Milan, 1965), 28; Oguri to Goto and Hirota, 9/23/35: Record Office (Tokyo) A461 ET/I1–2 vol. 1.


 [40]New York Times, Sept. 22, 1935; The Times (London), Sept. 23, 1935.


[41]New York Times, Oct. 5, 1935.


[42]Furukawa, “Japanese Political Relations,” 11; Yusuke Tsurumi and Shigetsugu Komai, Fuun no Rutsubo Echiopia [A Misfortunate Ethiopia] (Tokyo, 1935), 310–15; Bradshaw, “Japan and European Colonialism,” 347.


[43]E-mail: From Luke Shepherd Roberts, Mar 20, 96, 02:17:27 pm.


[44]Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations,” 12; Furukawa, Japanese-Ethiopian Relations,” 13.


[45]Furukawa, “Japan’s Political Relations,” 12–13; Furukawa, Japanese-Ethiopian Relations,” 13; Taura, “Nihon-Echiopia Kankei ni miru 1930s,” 159; Giornale d’Italia, Dec. 3, 1936: Record Office (Tokyo) M130 1–1–2.


For a detailed account of the history of establishing commercial representation in Ethiopia, see Taura, “Nihon-Echiopia Kankei ni miru 1930s,” 141–170.


Some illusions died hard. Robert O. Jordan, President General of the Ethiopian Pacific Movement, wrote to foreign minister Arita Hachiro, at the end of 1936. Claiming that the Ethiopian Pacific Movement spoke “for the darker peoples of the world,” he tried to discourage Japan’s recognition of Italy’s conquest which would “lessen the faith that the sons and daughters of Africa had placed in the good Government of Japan.” He continued: “According to history, we are sure that the Japanese people always show a good feeling towards their colored brothers of the world. We have great faith in what the future holds for the dark races under the excellent leadership of Japan.”


[46]Taura, “Nihon-Echiopia Kankei ni miru 1930s,” 160.


[47]For more on this connection, see Taura, “Nichii Kankei to sono Yotai (1935–36),” 304–05.