Japan and China: Paths Toward the World Community

Essay by woogie310University, Bachelor'sA, March 2004

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The 19th century marked the arrival of Japan and China, two of the most influential and nationalistic nations in East Asia, at fateful crossroads in the respective histories. Japan, a historically isolated nation now confronted by a crumbling domestic order and the pressures of an expanding world market, was forced to make monumental decisions to shift their national policy toward a successful entry into the world community. From political upheavals to militaristic expansion and from undergoing an economic miracle to overhauling their social system, Japan took dramatic steps to construct a modern state.

China also demonstrated a desire for change after more than a century of national humiliation marked by foreign aggression lasting from the 1840s until the 1940s. Also, a century of internal strife led to numerous revolutions and changes in leadership. Western influences on the Chinese establishment conflicted with the traditional ways and views still held by many.

Yet, China has restored its strength and dignity through political, economic and social reform still going on to this day.

Japan's decision to enter the world community was implemented by the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The emperor was placed back at the head of the government after nearly 1,000 years of shogunate rule. Soon after, in April of the same year, the government issued the Charter Oaths which laid the foundation for a modern government and opened Japan up to foreign influences toward domestic reform. The political situation was dramatically altered during Meiji's rule. For the first time in Japanese history a "truly consolidated, centralized and national form of government" was established by the emperor when a new constitution was written in 1889. The emperor himself was granted the "sacred and inviolable" position atop the leadership of Japan and military leaders gained tremendous power in the government. This shift in...