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War and the Finance Domain

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An anti-Russian satirical map produced by a Japanese student at Keio University during the Russo-Japanese War. It follows the design used for a similar map first published in 1877.

Short peek at my next academic project at the Diplomat, with a detour through Japan’s 20th century war financing

In 1904-1905, Japan waged war against Russia on both land and sea, winning a series of victories that devastated Russian military power in Asia and left Russia’s imperial government teetering. Yet peace negotiations left Russia in a curiously strong position, with Japan making significant concessions in order to end the conflict. The reason for Japan’s apparent magnanimity was the perilous state of Japanese finances, which not only left Japan incapable of continuing the war, but risked default, followed by financial devastation. Japan had funded the war through heavy borrowing in London and New York, and for both financial and political reasons those sources of funding dried up before the peace conference.

The academic project involves probing whether’s its useful to think of finance as a “domain” in the same sense as the cyber or the sea, and if so how far back we can reach and still have leverage with that language. Should result in a book before all that long.

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