Comparing Japan and Russia's Response to industrialization before 1914.

Topics: Russia, Meiji period, Russian Empire Pages: 5 (1532 words) Published: January 20, 2004
In the early 19th century Russian rulers did anything in their power to keep the "French plague" from infiltrating Russia. The "French Plague" was a gradual move towards freedom and a more influential say in government. Russia avoided the "French Plague" by a period of isolation and oppression of their people. Japan also had a long period of isolation. The Japanese believed in the Mandate of Heaven or that there culture was the best. Because of their ethnocentric culture, only one Japanese port, Nagasaki, was open to traders once a year. During the late 19th century, both Russia and Japan were forced to make reforms and modernize by industrialization. They both had to do so rapidly because of Western interference and the West's increasing power in trade. During the early 20th century, Russia and Japan had managed to reform, industrialize, and make sufficient changes to build powerful nations, although they still couldn't compete with the West's supreme military and technological strength. The industrialization process for both Russia and Japan began during the same time period because of this they both shared many similar industrial responses, but also contrasted in many ways. Both Russia and Japan had some common characteristics, which explained how they kept independent from Western interference for such a long period of time. The two nations both new that learning from outsiders could profit them and not necessarily destroy their culture. Industrialization was easy for them because they followed a system of borrow and improve from other countries. Through Japan's Tokugawa shogunate and Russia's tsarist empire, both nations improved their political success. Instead, they used the state to pay for changes that in the West was backed by private businesses. In both Russia and Japan their rulers received more power. By emancipating the Russian serfs and the peasant class, both nations had a large labor force. Besides similarities there were also many differences in both nations responses to industrialization. Women were treated very differently in both Russian and Japanese societies, in society and in the home. The education of their people was another contrast because in Japan the literacy levels were higher. In Japan, market forms were more extensive going into peasant agriculture. As Russia possessed more land they automatically had more natural resources then did Japan. Japan and Russian responses to government reform was also a major factor of industrialization.

The similarities between Russia and Japan were many. Russia and Japan were able to industrialize so easily because of past imitation experience. Japan copied from China and Russia from the Byzantine Empire. Japan took the Confucian system from China and other scientific and medical knowledge. Russia borrowed its bureaucratic rule from Byzantium. They felt that taking from other cultures would not destroy their own. During industrialization, both Japan and Russia managed to keep their own cultures and religions despite their increased borrowing from the West. In the West private businesses backed entrepreneurs, where as in Russia and Japan the entrepreneurs were provided for by the state because of lack of technology and resources. Russian landlords happily took advantage of Western markets for grain, they increased their exports by tightening the labor obligations of the serfs. Russia's agricultural society was based on serf labor. The Crimean War fought on the Black Sea between the Ottoman Empire, Britain and France against Russia. The loss was a huge blow to Russia whom realized that they needed to drastically improve their technology and their military. Tsar Alexander II knew that the only way to develop a mobile labor force to industrialize was to free the serfs. The emancipitation of the serfs in 1861 fulfilled Russia's need for cheap flexible labor. Japan similarly needed a larger labor force to industrialize. In Japan the peasants whom were kicked off...
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