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Western Influence in China and Japan

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Western Influence in China and Japan

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  • June 12, 2006
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China and Japan are two unique civilizations that went through similar, yet vastly different changes throughout their histories. Their growth and response to other nations differed in many ways in government, lifestyle, and general well-being. One of the main causes for such difference between the countries is the way the West influenced each region, and the way China and Japan responded to this influence. China focused more on the idea of being a "status oriented" society, while Japan was more "goal oriented" based. In China, anyone had the ability to better themselves and change their status through civil examinations given by the government. Western impact however slowly changed this old age system. Japan's caste system viewed certain aspects of life differently and structurally differed themselves from China. In The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa, Fukuzawa plays a leading role in the devolvement of Japan's education system based on the ideas of Western civilization. Growing up in China, Chiang Monlin in Tides From the West tells his story of Western education and the meaning it brought to him. Shown through the books, The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa and Tides From the West, differences in the elite life of China and Japan with their relationship to the government, lower classes in society, and individual lifestyles grow out of the influence from the West.

With China being a status orientated country, the elite class had a close relationship with the government. For an individual to join the aristocracy of China, studying of the Confucian classics and passing the Imperial Civil Examinations was crucial. Chiang explains how he was taught from a young age to do well on the civil examinations and that "the path was difficult but it was the only road to success" (Chiang 23). Studying and school was a very time consuming task that required more than just memorizing Confucian classics. Dedication was required to get through the demanding...