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Why Was Japan Able To Mondernise So Successfully?

1879 words - 8 pages

Why was Japan able to modernise so successfully? The Modernisation of Japan involved many contributing factors that led to a successful reform. There was the abolition of feudalism by 1871, and the reforms that followed thereafter, which made Japans ultimate success in modernisation by 1895 possible. These major reforms took place in areas such as political and judicial, military and education, and economic and industrial. They were successful because they were shaped and reformed upon other styles and methods that Japan had seen others countries use and the trials and errors that they had seen China make. It was Japans ability to incorporate all these reforms into one single body, which ultimately enabled Japan to successfully modernise to the level of a recognisable world power by 1905.From 1603, the Tokugawa Shoganate ruled Japan in a feudalised fashion. This was where Japan operated with a feudal hierarchy, consisting of the Emperor, then the Shogun, who exercised all the governing power. Beneath the Shogun were the daimyo, or feudal nobles and then the Samurai who were the warrior class. At the base of the feudal scale were the merchants, the peasants and the artisans, naturally the masses of the people resided in this class. The Shogun produced many good rulers and the country operated peacefully. But even this peace caused civil unrest. Internal groups such as the Samurai, the merchants, the daimyos and the peasants found problems and grew impatient with their positions. Change was needed, and soon. The final blow came when Japan was forced to open to western civilisation in 1854 with the arrival of Commodore Perry and the Treaty of Kanagawa. As a result of this action, many other treaties between several western powers followed and Japan was now open to the world. As bad as this may have seemed for Japan, this exposed the world to them and made them realise just how backward they were. It was evident then, that change was imminent.If Japan were to modernise successfully, they would need to be rid of their present governing system. Thus, feudalism was abolished in 1871, when the Japanese government felt strong enough to issue an imperial decree abolishing feudalism. Significant effects arose from the end of feudalism in Japan. These affects included a greater financial position for the daimyo, the government had more money and were able to pay off previous debts, and the merchant class grew. On the other hand, the Samurai suffered to the extent that they were forced to go into business, due to their own lack of funds. When the national army was established, they lost their place in the social ladder and also their power to carry weapons. "Now that the imperial power is restored, how can we retain possession of land that belongs to the emperor and govern people who are his subjects?" (From a memorial of the lords of Choshu, Satsuma and Hitzen, 1869) This was a belief shared by many of the Samurai throughout the modernisation period. With...

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