Comparing Britain To Japan Essay

1158 words - 5 pages

In 1900 Britain was in many respects the world's leading nation, enjoying a large share of world trade, a dominant position in the international money market, and possessing a far flung empire supported by the world's most powerful navy. Japan was a complete contrast, sharing with Britain only the fact that it too was a nation of Islands lying off the shore of a major continent. Until the 1860s it had possessed a social and economic structure more akin to that of feudal, rather than twentieth century, Europe. By the 1990s, the positions were almost reversed. This paper sets out to examine the contrasting democratic political systems of the two nations and to explore the social and democratic consequences of the changes that have occurred. The establishment of the Japanese archipelago assumed its present shape around 10,000 years ago. Soon after the era known as the Jomon period began and continued for about 8,000 years. Gradually they formed small communities and began to organize their lives communally. Japan can be said to have taken its first steps to nationhood in the Yamato period, which began at the end of the third century AD. During this period, the ancestors of the present Emperor began to bring a number of small estates under unified rule from their bases around what are now Nara and Osaka Prefectures. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Tokugawa Ieyasu set up a government in Edo (now Tokyo) and the Edo period began. The Tokugawa regime adopted an isolationist policy that lasted for more than 200 years, cutting off exchange with all countries except China and the Netherlands. The age of the Samurai came to and end with the Meiji Restoration of 1868, and a new system of government centered on the Emperor was set up. The new government promoted modernization, adopted Western political, social and economic systems, and stimulated industrial activity. The Diet was inaugurated, and the people began to enjoy limited participation in politics. From around 1920 a democratic movement gained strength. However, amid a global economic crisis, the military came to the fore, and Japan eventually marched down the road to war. With the end of World War II in 1945 Japan put into effect a new Constitution, committed itself to becoming a peace-seeking democracy, and successful in relaunching its economy. In 1956, the nation's entry into the United Nations was approved. Since then, Japan has contributed to world peace and prosperity as a member of the international community. The establishments of the British monarchies were much different from Japan's. Britain is one of the few states that has never been conquered and reshaped by another government. They have also never had a full-fledged revolution, ousting one regime and putting in place a totally different one. From 1066 to the eighteenth century British politics consisted of rule by the crown and the aristocracy. There was usually tension between the crown and the others....

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