Japan Change Over Time Essay

1147 words - 5 pages

Japan, an isolated island in the Pacific Ocean in East Asia, surprised the world when it first opened its doors to Western influence in 1854. While it had a strict policy about maintaining its isolation, it had no choice but to succumb to imperialism. When Commodore Matthew Perry visited, Japan realized that isolation had resulted in their inability to develop economically and militarily with the industrialized world. Thus from 1854 to 1914, Japan changed from being under the influence of imperialism to becoming an imperialist nation, as well as coming out of feudalism and going to into modern militarism. Despite all these changes in its economy and military, Japan had managed to consolidate its power under one single ruler, whether it is the shogun, the emperor, or the military general.

From the start of 1854 to the end of 1914, Japan changed from being threatened to trade with the West to aggressively embracing imperialism. After the United States’ initial visit, Japan was faced with no other choice than to open trade, for it was presented with the threat of destruction. This can be seen in the Treaty of Kanagawa, which opened diplomatic ties between the U.S and Japan. Eventually, more similar treaties were signed in favor of these Western countries. Japan, at that time was under the influence of these countries. Eventually, however, Japan began its own imperialism over China, Korea as well as parts of Russia. Japan not only became an imperial power, but a world power after driving out the Russians and asserting its hegemony in Nanjing as well as in Manchuria. Through a period of rapid industrialization and development, the Japanese learned a great deal from the West and was catching up rather quickly. Japan’s relationship with the United States also changed from 1845 to 1914. For example, Japan initially thought of the Americans as barbarians and refused to trade with them. However, Japan and U.S became economically dependent as time went on. By 1914, Japanese imperialism had become a threat to the United States to the point that it had to place an embargo in order to stop it from invading neighboring countries such as Australia. The reason Japan changed from being threatened by Europeans and Americans to being as threatening as they are is because they were motivated to become a powerful nation. Their initial decision to open up trade with the West was prompted by their desire to posses modern technology. These changes were caused by the lack of resources, the need for Japan to earn its reputation as a strong nation and to avoid manipulation by the West.

This time period in Japan can be compared with the Europe and East Asia. The Meiji Restoration can be compared with Europe’s Industrial Revolution. Japan was able to build factories and set up private organizations more rapidly because it did not need to experiment with or invent anything new. The formation of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere created an independent nation...

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