Japan, Past and Present
When I think of Japan and its people, I think of geishas, elaborate festivals, and its age old customs. What I’ve come to learn about Japan is that it’s a combination of old tradition but very modern advances. Japan is a modern country that has moved towards democracy and is today one of the strongest economies in the world. And though history plays a major role in Japanese culture, it has truly evolved into a country that keeps up with an ever changing world.
Throughout Japan’s history its people have been impacted by its form of government which for centuries was a monarchy of emperors. Tokugawa leyasu was the most powerful man in Japan after he defeated Hideyori loyalists in 1600 giving him almost unlimited power and wealth. Leyasu was appointed shogun (title for chief military leaders) by the emperor and established his government in Edo, Tokyo. Known as the Edo period, Leyasu ran the country under tight control and gained much land among the daimyo (vassals of the shogun). He continued to promote foreign trade and established relations with the English and Dutch. Under the control of Leyasu peace prevailed in Japan. In 1633, Shogun Lemitsu forbid travelling abroad and completely isolated Japan and reduced contact with the outside world. Despite the isolation, domestic trade and agriculture production grew. During the Genroku Era popular culture flourished as well. In Japan the most important philosophy was Neo-Confucianism which stressed the importance of morals, education, and the hierarchy system in government and society. In 1720, western influences began to show up in Japan in the form of new schools and literature. Things took a turn for the worst when the stability of Japan’s government was
threatened by higher taxes, natural disasters, and famine which caused riots and further financial problems within the central government. In the end of the 18th century, external pressure became an issue, when outside forces tried to establish trade contacts with Japan. It wasn’t until Commodore Perry in 1853 that the government decided to open a limited number of ports for international trade. Soon Japan recognized major advances in military and science in the western nation and began to favor a complete opening to the world.
Japan’s government has since moved towards a democracy. The Japanese Parliament is called the Diet. It consists of the House of Representative and the House of Councilors. The Diet members are elected by the people. The cabinet is headed by the Prime Minister and further consists of ministers appointed by the Prime Minister. These are usually People from the Diet. The Diet elects the Prime Minister. The highest court is the Supreme Court. Other courts include district courts, high courts, family courts, and summary courts. The judges are appointed by the cabinet.
The Japanese economy is one of the strongest in the world. Only the US has a stronger GNP. Japan’s most important...