Studia Historica Septentrionalia 63


Olavi K. Fšlt, The spirit of the Winter War in Japan

In this article I examine how the political leadership in Japan and the Japanese media felt about the Winter War. The media are represented by two Japanese-owned English newspapers; The Japan Times, established in 1897 and named The Japan Times & Mail during the examined period, and The Osaka Mainichi, established in 1922.

Despite its traditionally friendly relations with Finland, when the Winter War broke out Japanís government found the situation very difficult. The reason was the new international situation caused by the start of World War II. Japan found it difficult to adapt to the rapid, unexpected changes that had taken place in Europe. In line with its policy, Japanís government prohibited all official statements in support of Finland. However, although the official position was unsympathetic, unofficially great sympathy was shown for Finlandís difficult circumstances, even by the imperial family.

In contrast, the image of Finland portrayed in both of the English newspapers was quite positive. Articles in Japanese newspapers also had a positive attitude toward Finland. The positive attitude toward Finland that prevailed in Japan paralleled the very common international opinion. In addition, the feeling of spiritual similarity between the Finnsí battle and Japanís traditional military mind-set had at least a partial impact. A special feature that was visible was the open exploitation of Finland in the furthering of Japanís own objectives. In other words, Japan attempted to exploit the international positive attitude toward Finland to support the goals of Japanís foreign policy.

Takaisin Studia Historica Septentrionalia 63