The Rise of Modern Japan

Topics: World War II, Japan, Sociology Pages: 5 (1305 words) Published: February 22, 2011




Thesis statement: how the rise of modern Japan resulted in the Second World War.

Among countries outside Europe and the US, Japan recorded a high rise to modernity. The high rate of modernization put the Japanese on a tight rope as far as there cultural and social values were concerned. For them it meant losing some of their values to embrace modernity especially those that were not in line with modernity. During the first quarter of the 19th century, Japan was ruled by a class of people from the Samurai family, who laid social, political and social structures which aimed to be better than then economic powers; Britain, France and Germany[1]. Harootunian observes that Japan’s formative age begun in between 1600-1886 during Tukagawa’s rule. He laid down structures that formed capitalism on which other generational rules have relied upon for industrial and economic growth and development[2].

The three men who reunified Japan were Ieyasu, Warring, Hideyoshi; Nobunaga. After securing supremacy in Japan, Ieyasu took the imperial family, living in the capital city of Kyoto under his control and increased financial support for them2. Ieyasu took another step. He adopted a practice, long used in some parts of Japan, of having vassals send their wives and heirs to live as hostages in the territories of their lords2.

Another influential figure in the rise of modern Japan was Yamagata became Prime Minister for a second term from 8 November 1898 to 19 October 19002. In 1900, while in his second term as Prime Minister, he ruled that only an active military officer could serve as War Minister or Navy Minister, a rule that gave the military control over the formation of any future cabinet2. He also enacted laws preventing political party members from holding any key posts in the bureaucracy.

In 1912 Yamagata set an example that the army could dismiss a cabinet. Due to this, a dispute with Prime Minister Marquis Saionji Kinmochi over the military budget became a crisis constitutionally. The army minister, resigned when the cabinet failed to grant him the budget he wanted. Saionji sought to replace him. Japanese law required that the ministers of the army and navy must be high-ranking generals and admirals on active duty1. In this instance all the eligible generals at Yamagata's instigation refused to serve in the Saionji cabinet, and the cabinet was compelled to resign dealing a blow to Japan’s war progress2.

Tukagama urged the Japanese people to denounce their old mediocre ways of life, to dismiss the Meiji civilization. This becomes the foundation of an organized social discourse that brought about modernization through overcoming history[3]. Swiftly, Japan moved to modernization, the Japanese were finally overcome by modernity and abandoned their traditional life. By 1918, when the first world war begun, Japan’s cities had developed large industrial sites and were already producing commodities that matched a modern life. Before the First World War, Japan was committed to developing of light industries and building infrastructure. When the war broke out, commitment shifted to heavy industries with new sources of power in place[4].J the shift transformed Japan to a highly industrialized country to the levels of countries that had already attained industrialization such as US, Germany and France. At this time, Japan was set to fight for supremacy in Asia; it was determined to control her interests in most of the countries in Asia.

The Second World War comprised of several wars that were fought in different parts of the world. Japan begun world war with china much earlier in 1937. The outbreak was begun on an accidental note. Japanese troops at that were in Northern China to protect their country’s interests. The troops clashed with Chinese soldiers resulting in a war break out. Japan wanted to have total control over Northern china, a...

References: [8] Harootunian, Harry. Overcome by modernity: history, culture and community in interwar Japan. (New Jersey: Princeton university press, 2000).
Beasley, William. The rise of modern Japan; political, economic and social change since 1850. (New York: st. martins press, 2000).
Dupuy, Trevor N. (1992). Encyclopedia of Military Biography. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. 
Hackett, Roger F
Menton, Linda and Noreen, Lush. the rise of modern Japan. Hawaii University Press, 2003).
[2] Harootunian Harry, overcome by modernity: history, culture and community in interwar Japan (New Jersey: Princeton university press, 2000), 5.
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