Modernity in Japan

Topics: Sociology, Empire of Japan, Meiji period Pages: 5 (1691 words) Published: April 29, 2012
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The establishment of the Meiji restoration was the beginning of modernisation in Japan. Japan moved from a traditional to a modern state or from a confucian world view to a secular, modern, scientific and rationale world view. The Meiji government used the ancient Chinese ideal of enriching the country at the same time strengthening the military to secure a place among the aggressors instead of being a victim of aggression. The economic development of Japan was modernised using western ideologies, and this occurred during the Meiji restoration period. After 1868, feudal classes were abolished and every one was equal before the law. All men were also required to render their services to the military. Education was made compulsory, and women were allowed to work outside their homes.This research paper highlights how Japan embraced modernity, what it meant to embrace modernity, relationships of Japan with Asia, and the place of culture within modernity. Just like their Asian counterparts, modernisation in Japan has been confused with westernisation. This is because modernisation was characterised by the acceptance of western cultures, and this meant great changes in the peoples way of life. Westernisation in Japan involved the adoption of western fashions of clothing, food, architecture and hair styles. The introduction of computers, phones and mass communication was considered modernisation as they transformed the patterns of behaviour and world views, and this entailed remolding a cultural form to a new identity (Lu n.d). While it took the majority of European countries more than 50 years to industrialise, it only took Japan 40 years. After the pacific war, The 1947 civil code enabled Japan to establish a constitutional democracy which paved way for political modernizations to occur. The Meiji leaders were from the lower middle rank of the Samurai class. They had experienced the pressures of western imperialism and the corrupt Tokugawa feudal role, and they knew modernisation was the only way to save Japan. Japan modernised to remain an independent, sovereign state and to avoid the aggressive western imperialism at the time. If Japan had prevented the entry of western civilisation, they would have lost their independence. The rest of the world’s civilized nations were not ready to allow an Eastern island nation of Asia slumber in isolation ( Fridell 1970). So what is modernity? It is a set of related attributes resulting from industrial, social and economic revolutions. Industrial revolution was as a result of technological advances. In modernity, we value rational and scientific thoughts and economic efficiencies are always promoted. Since modernity is tied to Christianity, the early Japanese modernizers were also encouraged to embrace Christianity by their American supporters. Under modernity, tradition has always been rejected to favour progress. Most of the basic terms of modernity do not apply to Japanese culture though the country embraced western architecture to advance its modernisation programs. They used western engineers to build the country’s infrastructure. We can say Japan is fully modernised, but have failed in its attempts to westernise(Yukichi 2009). As the Meiji leaders started modernising some aspects of Japan, they realised other aspects such as the military needed reforms. Long term educational modernisation was developed to ensure the reforms were accepted by people. Relying on the dignity of the imperial household, some dedicated men toppled the old government and established a new one that embraced modern civilisation. The new government cast Japan’s old conventions and created an a new axle towards progress in Asia ( Fridell 1970). We can truly describe the birth of a Japanese nation in 1868 as an embrace of modernity. The modern civilization that occurred in...
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