Japanese Imperialism Essay, Research Paper
History V Japanese Imperialism
Japan s aggressive Nationalism in the 20th century was a reaction to its experience of Western Imperialism in the 19th century. In paragraph one, I will describe Japanese society and government before the Western Impact. In paragraph two, I will look at the ending of Japan s isolation, in paragraph three, I will explain the Meiji restoration and the modernizing of Japan and in paragraph four, I will delineate Japanese militarism and imperialism in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Before the Western Impact, Japan s system of government was a feudal one. They developed a centralised bureaucratic government, based not on scholar officials, as in the government of China, but on the leaders of the noble feudal clans. Although Japan s sovereign was a hereditary emperor, the shogun or chief feudal lord exercised real power. In 1603 the Tokugawa clan gained control of the shogunate, and the political capital was established at Edo ( Tokyo). The shoguns powers although, were limited by strong local lords or daimyos.
The military class, the samurai, also exercised a respectable political power at the local level.
European interest in Japan increased during the 18th century. America was especially keen to open Japan up to the normal terms of trade. They not only saw Japan as a profitable field for commerce, but also as the key link in the mew steamship service that was to be operated in the Pacific between California and China. In 1853, President Millard Filmore of the United States sent Commodore Perry with one-third of the American navy to negotiate trade with Japan. Being no match to the supreme power of the American guns, they were forced to sign a treaty of trade. The Treaty of Kanagawa was signed in 1854. By the treaty, two small Japanese ports (Shimoda and Hakodate) were open to trade with the United States. Other European countries were quick to negotiate similar treaties.
The failure of the Shogun s government to defeat the Western powers resulted to a loss of prestige and power. The Tokugawa clan quickly lost the support of the other noble families. In 1867, the Tokugawa shogun was forced to submit his power over to the emperor. The new emperor was only sixteen years old, but was to become an astute and able political leader. He took the name Meiji, meaning enlightened. The revolution, which brought the young emperor to power, marks the beginning of modern Japan.
Old feudal practices were destroyed, in the Charter Oath (1868) the emperor promised that evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything shall be based on the just laws of nature. Not only were the samurai and daimyo stripped of their economic and political power, but also Shinto was reestablished as the official Japanese religion.
The great aim of the Meiji revolution was to build a Japan, which could confront the west on equal terms. To achieve this Japan started building a new army and navy. To do this, foreign instructors were invited to Japan to advise on modernizing the Japanese Military. Also in 1872 an introduction to compulsive military training was a major step forward. It was argued that if Japan wanted to be truly equal to the Western nations, she would have to develop an empire as well. With this thought in mind, Japan quickly turned from being a defensive country, to one of active empire building.
Korea being the first on her list.