Westernization in China and Japan

1311 Words3 Pages

In the middle of the 19th century, despite a few similarities between the initial responses of China and Japan to the West, they later diverged; which ultimately affected and influenced the modernizing development of both countries. At first, both of the Asian nations rejected the ideas which the West had brought upon them, and therefore went through a time period of self-imposed isolation. However, the demands that were soon set by Western imperialism forced them, though in different ways, to reconsider. And, by the end of the 19th century both China and Japan had introduced ‘westernizing’ reforms. China’s aim was to use modern means to retain and preserve their traditional Confucian culture. Whereas Japan, on the other hand, began to successfully mimic Western technology as it pursued modernization, and thus underwent an astounding social upheaval. Hence, by the year 1920, Japan was recognized as one of the world’s superpowers, whereas China was on the edge of anarchy. The Chinese empire had once been one of the greatest and most powerful empires in the world. Before the 19th century, China had a large population and was ruled by families or dynasties. It was considered technologically advanced as China had a history of many miraculous inventions, such as: writing, magnetic compasses, movable sails, porcelain, abacus and paper money. Although China was isolated from the rest of the world, it coped well on its own, and saw no need to begin trading with the west, (as Lord McCartney proposed in 1793), since it was a self-sufficient nation. At that particular time, the Chinese empire was still able to exclude the ‘barbarians’, thus forcing them to only trade at one port. However, China soon took a turn for the worst as important ... ... middle of paper ... ...ch translates to enlightened. Mutsuhito was crowned the Meiji Emperor of Japan in the year 1868. The emperor abolished the office of the shogun. With this, the Samurai class was replaced by a modern military force. Large quantities of peasants were soon conscripted into the army. And with that, the old class system of Japan had been abolished. In the same year, the Charter Oath was signed by Emperor Meiji. The oath was composed of 5 articles which would eventually modernize and westernize Japan. The Oath definitely changed Japan’s politics, and introduced a Western parliamentary constitution. Within a short period of time, Japan had caught up with many Western technologies; having established universities, founded telegraph and railroad lines, as well as a national postal system being created. Shipping and textile industries were a huge success an exports rose.

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