"For Japan to overturn the unequal treaties, they had to Westernise and they Westernised their societal structures and processes"

Essay by krisworldCollege, UndergraduateA-, June 2004

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In the 1880s, Japan started what many still believe in 2004 to be one of the most successful and indeed rapid transformations in history. Essentially, Japan was revolutionised from a small closed-economy state to one that would be an industrial powerhouse. Japan overtook its former "uncle" China to become the major power within the Asian region. Much of this power and success, according to many, was brought about by Japan's willingness to Westernise in order to achieve better diplomatic relations. Japan's Westernisation was brought about with many facets which revolutionised Japanese society and provided the cornerstone for change.

Upon the return of Japan's contingent to the West, the Japanese began to see the gross importance of political institutions in Western culture and thus, a number of very important reforms were drafted that would bring Japan into line with the West. The changes brought about to Japan's politics were to change Japan's political dominion forever, marking a distinct change from the traditional world that had never challenged the status quo.

A cabinet government was created in 1885. A constitution was created in 1889. (Hunter PG289). Electoral assembly opened in 1890. These changes technically turned Japan from a feudal society into one of democracy, embracing many European principles. In Asia, this was unprecedented.

With the weakness of China, Japan saw it as extremely important to build up its armed forces with the core objective of maintaining Japan's independence as China became, in many respects, a European colony. Traditionally in Japan, the Samurai, or warrior class, had embraced ancient principles of battle. However, in the then modern world, technological sophistication became imperative. With the arrival of Matthew Perry in 1853, Japan had seen the unmitigated sophistication of their weaponary and saw their inferiority. Determined not to be left behind, Japan 'reverse engineered' armaments...