Treating Japan as a victim rather than a perpetrator of imperialism is one of the most dangerous effects of white laziness in treating “Asia” as if it is a single place.
What Westerners fail to recognize is that Japan is the exact same sort of rapacious aggressor as European colonial powers, with a long history of military aggression against the rest of Asia. The post-WWII occupation of Japan was not Western imperialism against an innocent nation; it was the humbling of an imperial power which made the mistake of arrogantly provoking an even more powerful imperial power.
The Western bloc has always been willing to collaborate with Japan specifically because the Japanese mindset is close enough to their own to comfortably “do business with”. The only time the West has ever opposed Japan was when Japan sought to place itself as a fully equal imperial power with all Asia as its exclusive colonial sphere, as opposed to a lesser member of the imperialist club.
The modern situation is essentially a return to the early Meiji era, where the West was perfectly happy to aid and abet Japanese colonial aggression against the rest of Asia so long as Japan returned the favor by facilitating Western colonial influence over Asia and serving as an allied power against the Russian bloc.
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