In conclusion, the Meiji Restoration was significant in the modernisation of Japan because it exposed Japan to the Western culture, and brought momentous social, political and economic changes to Japan. Historian John Whitney Hall described the Meiji Restoration as “Japan's transition to modernity” and “proved to be one of the pivotal events in Japanese history.” Westernisation and the changes brought by the Meiji Restoration provided the framework for the modern Japan.
Turning Points in Modern Japanese History The late nineteenth century marked the changing of government, policy, and culture within Japan. In order to understand the nation-state as it is known today, it is important to note key events in the turning of the Meiji Nation in to what is now known as modern Japan. Due to primarily discourse between Japan and China, and later Japan and the United States, the modern nation's expansive empire was annihilated. Militarism and expansionism disappointed the empire as China thwarted the Japanese efforts, with the help of the United States. Events marking the change of the Japanese empire in to the modern empire of today include the Sino-Japanese War and its consequences, tensions and international treaties with China, and most obviously, the Pacific War with the United States.
When the United States and European countries were compelling Japan to open its ports to the world in the 1850s, Japan decided to use the West as a model for their own benefit. When the emperor was restored to power, Japan modernized, militarized, and industrialized. These changes were all based on examples set by the West. By the early 1900s, Japan became an imperial power and it spread its supremacy throughout East Asia. Japan showed that they were just as capable as the West was and they disproved the Western myth, by showing them that they were their equals.
In fully comprehending this, one must look at the Meiji restoration through the framework of Japanese historiography and acknowledge the limits of western influence and realise that it was not the sole power in Japan’s transition into a modern nation state. Westernization only spurred transformation in Japan, the greatest change being that it forced Japan out of its feudal past and on to the global stage to adopt an identity as a modern nation state. This led to economic improvements and legal reforms which dismantled old class divisions. However, Japan’s own internal forces and idiosyncrasies of its entrenched household registration system maintained ongoing prejudices and discriminative practices that still remain in contemporary Japan.
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.
Pan Asianism did not reject modernity as a way to recover Asian greatness. (Hotta, 2007) Some pan-Asian writers justified Japan’s leadership of Asia on the argument that Japan successfully modernised, in contrasted to the rest of Asia who failed at modernisation. ( Saaler & Szpilman, 2011) Japan became an imperial power after defeating China in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. Following this Pan-Asianism gained more supporters among members of the Japanese ruling elite and nationalists as they were encouraged by the success of the strong Japanese imperi... ... middle of paper ... ...ter East Asia implied that the sphere would also include Southeast Asia, Eastern Siberia, and probably the outside regions of India, Australia and the Pacific Islands. (Mimura, 2011) According to Mimura (2011, p.4) The Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere was the product of the “collaboration of the military, Pan-Asianists and ultranationalists” which “served as a complex ideological matrix that brought together various strands of Japanese technocratic and right-wing thinking” including “Japanese Pan-Asianist visions of an Asian liberation into a fascist vision of empire.” The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was basically a cover for Japans imperialistic actions at the time and a way of trying to justify Japanese control in occupied countries during WWII, when puppet governments manipulated the residents and economies to the advantage of imperial Japan.
As part of Japan’s modern identity, the governments of its history of been the result of continuous change to come. A big push in the continuing change came about when Commodore Perry arrived in 1853, bringing about western influence. The Tokugawa bakufu ruled Japan from about 1600 to 1868 (Goto-Jones, 24). This government involved a hierarchy which included a social ranking from high to low; the samurai, farmers, artisans, and merchants (Goto-Jones, 30). This was the last feudal Japanese Government.
(Saaler & Szpilman, 2011) A few decades later the spiritual concepts of pan- Asianism were “distorted by Japanese militarist government into a brutal ideology of imperialism that seemed fixed on conquering, rather than liberating, Asia.” (Hotta, 2007, p. ix). This meant that it went from an ideal originally associated with Asian independence to a way to justify aggressive imperialism against fellow Asian countries. In the 19th century Japan became a modern imperial nation as they welcomed modernisation which proved that they were as civilised as Western powers. The Japanese began to adopt modern communications infrastructure and developed bases for modern industry. Some Japanese began to adopt Western customs such as dress; education was made compulsory and universal conscription was introduced.
The role of Genro are to determine the institutions, political stability, foreign approval and national pride. Additionally, they are considered as the founding fathers of Japanese’s modernization. Nonetheless, through the command of Genro, Japan had recovered of its foreign trade and legal system. That is by seizing control of Korea and Liaodong Peninsula in Southern Manchuria after defeating the Chinese in Sino-Japanese War in 1895. However, Japan realized that they were still incompatible with the West when the triple entente forced to return the Liaodong Peninsula.
After reopening its borders to the rest of the world in 1868, the nation entered a period of rapid modernisation, drawing in technological, cultural, military and educational influences from other countries around the world. The Tokugawa family’s isolation policy had a moderate effect on the modernisation of Japan. The isolation policy had allowed Japan to progress beyond localised warfare, establishing trade and communication routes between previously disconnected localities, and together with the the 250 years of peace enabled by Tokugawa rule, allowed Japan’s continuous development throughout this period. The Tokugawa family’s isolation policy prevented foreign influence, however, separating the country even further from the West. Japan’s modernisation after this period saw the introduction of a bureaucratic government, improvements to their transport system, further improvements to their industrial sector upon those already made during Tokugawa rule, and the implementation of a powerful military.