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Modernization Of Japan Essay

1309 words - 5 pages

Japan underwent rapid modernization due to the impacts of the West. Significant influences of the West caused Intensive and extensive transformation of japans feudal system to a modern industrialized nation.
The arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry, Commander – in – Chief of US forces in 1853 was a major contribution to the Modernization of Japan. Perry had been sent to force the Japanese inhabitants to concede the following: Protection for American soldiers, opening of one or two ports for repairs and refueling coal and the opening of one or more ports for trading purposes. The shogun accepted Perry’s terms. This lead to the rapid transition and modernization of Japan from a feudal society to an industrialized nation.

As a result of Perry’s visits and the treaties that followed, many Japanese were humiliated, confused and in fear for the future. Some of the Japanese wanted to drive out the foreigners, SONNOJOI was there slogan, which meant “Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarian!” Others were all for deposing the SHOGUN, who they felt surrendered the country too easily. Others believed that Japan should accept the foreigners, learn from them and modernize. Perry’s visits and the treaties provoked the revolution, which lead to the Meiji Restoration.

In 1867 the Meiji Restoration began. There were two very significant things which happened during this period. The first being; The emperor was restored to power and allowed to rule on his own again, unhindered by a SHOGUN, hence the name Restoration. The second was that the country modernized, and joined the outside world. This meant that the young Emperor at the time, Mutsuhito was given back his rightful place as the ruler of Japan. Mutsuhito’s period of rule was to become known as the Meiji period, Meiji meaning period of” enlightened rule” or “ illustrious government”.

The aim of the Meiji Restoration was to modernize Japan and to catch up with the advanced technology of the west. As Historian Doctor Elise K. Tipton recites in the text “From Isolation to Imperialism”, ”The Meiji leaders recognized Western superiority in material aspects of life, technology and scientific techniques, but they still believed that Japanese culture, spirit, and ethics were superior to the West’s. “

The overall goal of the Meiji leaders, to achieve equality with the major Western Powers was summed up by the slogan “A rich country, a strong military”. This lead to the immediate elimination of unequal treaties, such as the Harris Treaty of 1858. The abolition of this treaty meant that Japan gained an aspect of independence by the control of tariffs for imported goods and the ability to prosecute Western offenders under Japanese law. This independence is a result of how the Japanese transformed into a sophisticated modern nation.

Following the principle of “Japanese spirit, Western Techniques”, the Meiji leaders adopted Western practices and the main areas of modernization in Japan were; government, law,...

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