Alliance of the Colored Peoples

Alliance of the Colored Peoples

Ethiopia and Japan before World War II

J. Calvitt Clarke III


James Currey



A detailed examination of Ethiopian-Japanese relations from their beginnings in the interwar period through the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-6, drawing on Japanese, Russian, Italian, French and English sources.
With the Japanese posing as the leader of the world's colored peoples before World War II, many Ethiopians turned to Japan for inspiration. By offering them commercial opportunities, by seeking their military support, and by reaching out to popular Japanese opinion, Ethiopians tried to soften the stark reality of a stronger Italy encroaching on their country. Europeans feared Japan's growing economic and political influence in the colonial world. Jealously guarding its claimed rights in Ethiopia against all comers, among Italy's reasons for going to war was the perceived need to blunt Japan's commercial and military advances into Northeast Africa. Meanwhile, throughout 1934 and the summer of 1935, Moscow worked hard and in ways contrary to its claimed ideological imperatives to make Collective Security work. Ethiopia was a small price to pay Italy for cooperation against Nazi Germany in Austria and Imperial Japan in China.
'Yellow' Japanese and 'black' Ethiopian collaboration before the war illuminates the pernicious and flexible use of race in international diplomacy. In odious terms, Italians used race to justify their actions as defending western and 'white' civilization. The Japanese used race to explain their tilt toward Ethiopia. The Soviets used race to justify their support for Italy until late 1935. Ethiopia used race to attract help, and 'colored' peoples worldwide rallied to Ethiopia's call.

J. Calvitt Clarke III is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville University, Florida.


November 2011
216 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781847010438
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
James Currey
BISAC HIS001030, HIS021000, HIS037070
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Table of Contents

Early Ethio-Japanese Contacts & the Yellow Peril
Ethiopia's Japanizers
Japanese Views on Ethiopia
Promise of Commercial Exchange, 1923-1931
Japan's Penetration of Ethiopia Grows
The Soviet Union, Italy, China, Japan & Ethiopia
The Flowering of Ethio-Japanese Relations, 1934
The Sugimura Affair, July 1935
Daba Birrou's Mission to Japan
The End of Stresa, the Italo-Ethiopian War & Japan - Conclusion - Appendix: The Ethiopian & Meiji Constitutions


J. Calvitt Clarke III has rendered outstanding service to those of us for whom this subject is of interest. AFRICA

The first and fullest account of Ethio-Japanese relations before World War II. JAPANESE JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

This detailed and well-researched study (...) provides a new perspective on the volatile world politics of the 1930s. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

An important study (and) a thoroughly documented and well researched work. JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORY