The first half of the 20th century saw Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands being challenged by the peoples they ruled in south and southeast Asia. At the same time, Japan was trying to take the place of the Europeans and create its own Asian empire.
Table 58. ASIA 1920–1942
|1920–1922||Gandhi leads Indian National Congress Campaign|
|1926–1942||Nationalist agitation in Indochina|
|1940||Japan occupies French Indochina|
|1942||The Vietminh founded|
When Indian nationalists were demanding self-rule, one of the leading campaigners against the British was Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948). Instead of calling for an uprising, Gandhi used nonviolent methods of protest. He lived very simply and called for India to return to the traditional values of village life. He became known as Mahatma or “great soul.” This man of peace was assassinated in 1948.
After 1868, Japan turned itself into an industrial nation. It defeated Russia in 1904–1905 and annexed Korea in 1910. In 1919, it gained former German territories in the Far East. During the 1930s, extreme nationalists and the military planned Japan’s invasion of China. In the 1940s, during World War II, Japanese armies finally swept through southeast Asia.