Japan Isolationism vs Adaptation

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April 28th, 2010

To the Office of the Prime Minister

Subject: Should Canada adopt a foreign policy of isolationism or a policy of rapid adaptive response?

Canada needs to address the changing economic, environmental, and social issues facing our nation today. I believe, we can either take an isolationism policy stand or one of rapid adaptation.

Since the mid-19th century, Japan has witnessed dramatic changes in it's national policy - from isolation to eager borrowing from other cultures, from emperor worship to democracy. Its sustainability and adaptiveness and reviewing these examples on strengths and weaknesses in the Japanese culture would best provide a basis for our decision.

Japan has undergone two social, political, and economic changes in its history, both of which drastically and permanently altered the nation’s course. The first one during the “Edo” period (1603 – 1867), when the country isolated itself from the rest of the world and was ruled by a feudal government. The following 30 years saw rapid adaptation (Meiji period (from 1868 - 1912)) of japan based on Western civilization. There were numerous changes to both culture and economic advances including technological but also the destruction of numerous common practices within the Meiji era.

During most of the Edo Period, Japan was closed off to the world, suffered no invasion from the outside, and had virtually no exchange with other countries. For the most part, it was a peaceful period, with almost no war inside the country, and marked a remarkable time of development in the economy and culture of Japan.

During the Edo period little change happened in Japan. This had a huge effect on the country. The isolationism policy hugely affected the beliefs in Japan, there was peace throughout the country. Japan had a religion based upon different religions combined. It has “Shinto, worship of Kami,” “The Confucian code of correct behavior,” and “Buddhist, value of self discipline.”

Buddhism was a fact of life and death during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868): every household was expected to be affiliated with a Buddhist temple, and every citizen had to be given a Buddhist funeral. Instilling these beliefs was a means of government to to control outside beliefs especially Christianity, to maintain its power and control.

Life in the Edo period was strictly hierarchical with the people divided into four distinct classes: samurai, farmers, craftspeople, and merchants. It was a class society: The ruling class was samurai (military men who were permitted to carry a sword). Then farmers (ranked no.2), craftspeople (no.3), merchants (no.4). There was a big gap between the samurai class and other classes. Farmers were officially placed no.2 because they paid the rice tax, but they were not particularly respected. Below all of these classes, there were also outcasts (eta, hinin and Ainu).

Individuals had no legal rights in Edo Japan. However, family status and privileges was of great importance at all levels of society.

Environmentally, Japan became a source for inspiration for environmentalists today because of their creative ways of recycling.

In the Edo period Japan was able to self sustain without input of energy and material from the outside and depended solely on the solar energy. A Sustained Society: Japan of Edo Period - An Experience of Ultimate Sustainability. The population density during the Edo period was approximately 80/km2, which is about twice as high as the present world population density. The country not only succeeded in sustaining its high population and a vibrant culture, but also improved its environment; it increased the forested area, made the soil more fertile and its waterways cleaner.

Japan, for approximately 250 years during the Edo Period, was self-sufficient in all resources, since nothing could be imported from overseas due to the national policy of isolation.

Almost all goods and materials for food,...
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