Imperial Ambitions and Propaganda: A Critical Analysis of Map
An era of rapid socioeconomic change took place at the dawn of the 20th century. With growing global communication and the spread of modern technology beyond the “West,” new political powers emerged to challenge the existing world order. As one such power, Japan increasingly found itself competing with Russia for supremacy in the Far East, and the overlapping claims between the two empires quickly became irreconcilable. Set during this period of rising nationalism and social anxiety, Kisaburo Ohara’s “A Humorous Diplomatic Atlas of Europe and Asia” seeks to imbue the Japanese nation with a sense of purpose and garner popular support for the imminent Russo-Japanese War.
By presenting a distinct perspective spanning across the Eurasian…show more content… The inset situated at the top-left corner offers perhaps the most discernible evidence of the mapmaker’s intentions. In one instance, the text states that the “Black Octopus,” though seemingly invincible, could get “wounded seriously even by a small fish” due to its blind avarice. The metaphor, a clear reference to Japan’s military engagement with Russia, demonstrates strong nationalistic beliefs and a disdain for the opponent. Another fascinating aspect of the piece is that it uses kanji, Chinese characters adopted by the Japanese language, almost exclusively in labeling the nations. By making the map legible to a Chinese audience, Ohara appeals to the country where most of the fighting between Japan and Russia would take place. Similarly, the inclusion of English translations aims to invite Western support and paints the impression of Japan as an advanced nation, which alone could protect Asia from Russia’s abuse. These texts, working alongside the visual information, provide a potent source of persuasion that consolidates public opinion on the issue of foreign