Evaluate the Consequences of Modernization for Japan

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Evaluate the consequences of modernization for Japan

The modernisation of Japan was an all or none matter. Either every aspect of the country had to be modernized to some extent, or no single aspect could be modernized. The four main aspects of Japan’s modernisation were industrialisation, political modernisation, education reform and military development. These four aspects had severe political, economic and social consequences on Japan. Some of the main political, economic and social consequences derived from the four main aspects of modernisation of Japan were westernisation, the abolition of the class system, nationalism, growth of authoritarian and militarist traditions, demand for more political rights in society, abolition of feudalism, the destruction of Japan’s traditional agricultural economy, the destruction of localism and the increased political consciousness of the people.

The Industrialisation of the traditional Japanese economy was a vital step in the modernisation of Japan that had severe political, economic and social consequences for Japan. For instance in the long run, industrialisation destroyed Japan’s traditional agricultural economy. As the local economically self-sufficient village society was replaced by increased agricultural commercialization and specialization.

Industrialisation brought about greater circulation of goods, capital and even labour, localism of the village society broken down; and nationalism developed, a sense that the village people belonged not only to their village but also to the nation as a whole. Some of the political consequences of industrialisation were, that it laid the necessary foundation of a modern state and since, the Meiji government had a strong modern economy to rely on, the scope of government power was enlarged and its efficiency increased. This rapid industrialisation in addition strengthened the Meiji state’s undemocratic rule, as it provided new instruments of power concentration. So that the government could therefore effectively put down internal opposition.

However, industrialisation had economic consequences for Japan. Industry replaced agriculture as the nation’s most important economic activity. Also industrialisation reduced economic inequalities of the old Tokugawa shogunate society. Gradually, however, new concentrations of wealth and power were built up by the zaibatsu, which controlled most of the country’s economy. Various social consequences of industrialisation were that Japan’s standard of living was raised. Social mobility was able to be facilitated due to the abolition of feudalism in 1871 and as a result successful industrialists or businessmen became modern Japan’s social leaders. Industrial growth also greatly strengthened Japan’s nationalist spirit. In summary industrialisation was a necessary step for Japan to successfully modernise but clearly had political, economic and social consequences for Japan.

Political modernisation contributed to Japan’s modernisation and had severe consequences for Japan. An example of political modernisation was the abolition of feudalism in 1871, a political reform that marked the end of both feudal governance and the hegemony of the warrior in Japan. The goal was to create a new population of imperial subjects who all shared the same obligations to the state, regardless of their social origins. It freed the Meiji government from the financial burden of supporting the old ruling class, and enabled the Meiji government to carry out modernisation. As a result national unity was strengthened when the feudal clans were abolished. The Meiji government could also effectively rule over the whole country, as they had stripped the samurai of their lords, cultural identities, and distinctive social function as warriors, and was now in a better position to modernize Japan.

A significant example of political modernisation was the Meiji Constitution, 1889 that contributed to Japan as a modern...
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