Mental Maps, Territorial Imaging, and Strategy: Thinking about the Japanese Empire
Illustration by Nate Christenson

Mental Maps, Territorial Imaging, and Strategy
Thinking about the Japanese Empire

by Alexis Dudden
August 23, 2023

In this essay from NBR’s project Mapping China’s Strategic Space, Alexis Dudden discusses three factors that stand out as helpful for considering Japan’s strategic space today: first, the importance of understanding Japan’s initial nation-building effort as a “defensive empire”; second, the significance that Japanese leaders placed on engaging with global trends and norms of the times; and third, ideological doctrines of Japanese superiority vis-à-vis other Asian races, which overruled more cautiously planned maps to the point of overextension.

The essay is part of a section on Learning from History that presents a collection of historical case studies, used for comparative purposes, that examine how rising or great powers, including China, have in the past defined their strategic space and the factors that led them to consider expanding it beyond the strict delineations of their national territory.

Read the essay on the Mapping China’s Strategic Space website.