Far Eastern Question: Emergence of Modern Japanese State

Preface

In the 15th century Vasco-da-Gama discovered direct sea route to India. After this Europeans started dreaming for golden land and golden islands. So, they started entering into far east. Example: – Macau became base for the Portuguese, Canton for British, Farmossa (Taiwan) for Dutch. And from here European started entering into the China and Japan.

Japanese people and rulers got irritated by the role of Christian missionaries. So, in the second half of the 17th century, Japan closed its door for the foreigners. Japan went into isolation. For next 200 years, Japan was in isolation. The story took the turn with the arrival of the United States naval officer Commodore Perry in Japan in 1853.

The story took a turn with the arrival of the United States naval officer Commodore Perry in Japan in 1853. He pressurised the Japanese rulers and in the same year first American counsellor Mr Henry compelled Japanese to give extraterritorial rights to the United States citizens. Other European powers also adopted the same policy. Soon, Japan became the victim of Western Imperialism.

From 1853, Japan became a victim of Imperialism and this was a shock for the Japanese awakened minds. So, they stood up to find out the reason for their defeat. So, from here starts the emergence of modern Japan.

Emergence of Modern Japan

When the Japan became the victim of Western Imperialism, the rational class of Japanese society called Elders sent a delegation to Europe. So, the delegation asked to find out the reasons for their victimisation. Japanese delegation came out with three reasons:

  1. The presence of powerful and centralised political authority in Europe. Generally, following the principle of Democracy.
  2. Modern Education in Europe giving emphasis on science and technology.
  3. Modern Economic based on the structure of industrialisation.

The first important development in Japan was self-liberation. Under it, Daimyos (feudal lords) and Samurai, voluntarily surrendered their powers and privileges to their emperor.

Emperor Mutsuhito was placed in Tokyo with complete authority. This incident of establishing powerful and centralised political authority in Japan in 1868 is called as Meiji Restoration of 1868. So, the following developments took place in the Japan.

Japanese Meiji Government
Japanese Meiji Government

New Constitution

Japan adopted a new constitution, in which prince Ito played a very important role. And Japanese society adopted a constitution based on the Prussian Model. So, Emperor was the sole authority with the provisions of two houses. House of commons (Just like Loksabha in India) and House of elders (Just like Rajya Sabha in India).

Promotion to Education

  1. Compulsory primary education for boys and girls.
  2. Modern education in English medium.
  3. Promotion to colleges and universities.
  4. Emphasis on vocational training for skill development.

Japanese Industrial Revolution

This is a unique story. A small isolated Asian island, without natural resources, became the highly technologically advanced country. Japan was famously isolated from rest of the world from 1603 to 1867. Closed to western technology under the Tokugawa Shogunate. But the small contact with the outside world was in a small Dutch colony Dejima, a town in Nagasaki.

The first step of Japanese Industrialisation was based on the book from Europe. So, on this basis of the Japanese spirit of craftsmanship for iron and pottery, Japan moved for the industrialisation. So, The Japanese industrialisation was like Walking on One Leg.

The Japanese oligarchs decided that the resources from agriculture sector would be directly transferred to industry. Japan’s industrial revolution started after the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century. It had many characteristics which were different from the west. The Japanese people reversed engineered most of the technologies and machine. So, the state sponsored the Japanese Industrial Revolution.

So, this industrial revolution in Japan provided economic stability to Japan. Till the end of the 19th century, Japan turned into an economic power. The first E i.e. Economy, always give enthusiasm to the political authority to go for the another E i.e. Empire. So, from here the Japanese Imperialism will start.

Formation of National Army

Formation of National Army was an easy task for the Japanese authorities. Because after Meiji Restoration social equality, economic stability was already present in Japan.

So, in this way from 1853 to 1867, Japan faced the brunt of Imperialism. And from 1868 to 1894, Japan emerged as a modern power in Asia. This prepared the ground for the beginning of Japanese Imperialism.

We will discuss various phases of Japanese Imperialism in next coming post. Till then stay happy, stay blessed.

Thank you so much. 🙂 Stay Connected. 🙂

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