When Japan seized Taiwan from China in 1895, no one would have thought of the Japanese as imperialists. By the mid-1800s, Japan had come under U.S. pressure to open its ports to trade.
In 1853, President Millard Fillmore sent commodore Matthew Perry with a fleet of four ships into Tokyo Bay. Japan knew that it could not defend itself against a modern navy, and maintain its isolated position in the world.
Rapid Modernization In Progress!!
Japan then started to rapid modernization, and transformed itself into a strong military. Japan then wanted to take over Korea, and the Chinese province of Manchuria, little did they know Russia wanted these lands.
This caused the Russo-Japanese War, then the following spring they had enough of war at Japan’s request, and President Theodore Roosevelt's help with the Treaty of Portsmouth, eventually giving him the Nobel Prize for Peace due to his efforts.
Japan, now the winners of this war, has the strongest power in East Asia and a rival to the U.S. for influence in China and the Pacific Region. The Japanese government wanted to expand in terms of territory to counterbalance U.S. expansion in the Pacific.
Roosevelt wanted to show how powerful the U.S. was, so in 1907, she sent the Great White Fleet (squadrons of battleships) on an around-the-world journey. They stopped at 20 ports on six continents and returned to the U.S. in 1909.