Doing some research on the history of slavery led me to ponder the following question. I've given the question to my uni students here in Tokyo with assurances that I, for one, certainly do not know the right answer.
Can ending slavery be an after-the-fact justification for war and conquest?
The obvious first example that comes to the mind of most Americans would be the Union's conquest of the Confederacy. If ending slavery can be used to justify the Civil War, can it be used to justify the following invasions?
Japan outlawed slavery in Taiwan, Manchuria, and Korea (where, according to one source, it approached 30% of the population) after its conquest of those countries. After conquering Tibet, China ended slavery there. According to Chinese sources, well over 50% of the country were slaves.
Can the justification be made?
Did, in fact, slavery exist in Taiwan, China, and Tibet before outside invasions?
Any other similar situations come to mind, where a conqueror does "good" things like ending slavery?
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