Modernisation of Japan during the Meiji Restoration.

Essay by Luke McClureHigh School, 12th gradeA, January 2004

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"In achieving such a rapid and total modernisation, how much did Japan owe to Western Examples, and how much to its own resources and initiative?"

In achieving such a rapid and total modernisation, Japan owed much of its success to Western Examples which were greatly used in their economic, social and political modernisation during the revolutionary Meiji restoration period, which marked the deliberate transformation by Japan and it's leaders in response to the threat posed by the West. Because of Japan's use of Western examples, they were able to adopt Western ideas, traditions, cultures and values into their society and were hence able to modernise in a very short period of time so they were not forever at the mercy of Western demands. Although Japan owed much of its modernisation to Western Examples, they were able to enforce them within Japan using their own resources and initiative, and the transformation of Japan signaled their entry into the international world.

The beginning of the modernisation period began with the establishment of the Meiji Government and start of the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Japan went from tradition to modernity or from a Confucian world-view to a modern, secular, rational and scientific world-view, as Japan saw that all things modern are by definition Western. The ancient Chinese ideal of "Enriching the country; strengthening the military" became the goal of the Meiji Government so that Japan "could find a place among the aggressors instead of among the victims of aggression" and they adopted an "all or nothing" style of modernisation based upon Western Examples.

One aspect of Japan which was modernised based on Western examples and enforced using their own initiative was the economic development which took place during the Meiji Restoration period. In 1868 Japan was a non-industrialised country, with three quarters of...