Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1952

Sources from The National Archives, UK

Discover Japan’s rise to modernity and its relations with global superpowers through official British Government documents from The National Archives, UK.

This collection provides significant insight into the events between First World War victory and Second World War defeat, crucial to understanding the political journey of Japan during this period.

Topics covered include ultra-nationalism and the Japanese agenda of imperial dominance in the Far East, employment and social conditions in a time of global economic instability, and the ‘Great Kanto Earthquake’ of 1923 which flattened Tokyo. These documents record relations with Axis Powers in the context of changing alliances, the deterioration of relations with the Allies as World War Two reached the Pacific, and American post-war occupation of Japan.

Sourced from the rich FO 371 and FO 262 series at The National Archives, UK, this resource unites formerly restricted Japan-specific documents and is enhanced by the addition of a selection of FO 371 Far Eastern General sub-series, and Western and American Department papers.

Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1952 is part of Archives Direct, a cross-searchable multi-product platform, sourced from The National Archives, UK.

Key Data


  • 1931-1945, Japanese Imperialism and the War in the Pacific
  • 1946-1952, Occupation of Japan
  • 1919-1930, Japan and Great Power Status

Period Covered

  • 1919-1952

Source Archive

  • The National Archives, UK

Material Types

  • Correspondence
  • Annual reports
  • Political summaries
  • Maps
  • Minutes of ministerial meetings
  • Printed leaflets/booklets
  • Printed extracts
  • Economic summaries

 Editorial Board

  • Antony Best, London School of Economics
  • Sheldon Garon, Princeton University
  • Rustin Gates, Bradley University
  • Naoko Shimazu, Yale-NUS College Singapore


  • Japanese culture and society
  • The shifting nature of Anglo-Japanese relations
  • Japanese imperialism
  • War in the Pacific
  • Sino-Japanese relations and Manchuria/Manchukuo
  • Soviet-Japanese relations
  • The American occupation of Japan
  • Japanese economy
  • Trade and the Pacific-rim after World War II
  • Housing and education in Japan

Key Features

  • Available within the cross-searchable Archives Direct platform
  • Contextual essay and overview video with Dr Rustin Gates
  • Full-text searchable
  • Map Gallery
  • Pre-populated searches for key people, places and topics

Product Downloads


A valuable tool for exploring the British Government’s fraught relationship with its Japanese counterpart

Date reviewed: 2017. In 1919, following the Treaty of Versailles that concluded World War I, Great Britain and Japan were close allies, though their relationship was fraying. By 1952, the ......