The Consequences of Imperialism
Encounters between two different cultures always bring about many changes, whether the implications of such are large or small. Although the textbooks we read may list these changes, it is impossible to clearly comprehend the impact of such changes unless we read a first-person account of the transitions that took place as a result of such encounters. By reading excerpts from the autobiography of Fukuzawa Yukichi, we are given a very special view of how these changes affected the culture, thinking, and practices of the Japanese following the introduction of both Dutch and American powers within Japan. By viewing the event through the eyes of one who experienced it, we are presented with a far greater understanding of the element of change that pervaded mid to late 1860s Japan. Perhaps most visibly significant among the changes brought between the encounter of Western cultures with the Japanese are the changes of everyday practices. We are given a clear view of this at the introduction of Fukuzawa's excerpts. He points to the old views of his father, who claimed that "it [was] abominable
that innocent children should be taught to use numbersthe tools of merchants." (Reader 137) However, Fukuzawa's future exploits saw him not minding at all when he was entrusted with taking care of some of his gunnery teacher's monetary responsibilities (148). Such a change was not uncommon, as Fukuzawa claims that a Chinese scholar of the time was theorizing that finances should be of great importance to the samurai rather than to the lower classes. Even as a child, Fukuzawa tells his brother in a conversation, "I would like to be the richest man in Japan
and spend all the money I want to", a stark contrast from the earlier words of his father (Reader 142). This demonstrated the changes in thinking that were occurring to a system already several hundred years old, in which samurai, unable to live on their own property, were paid...
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