Japan modernization and restoration





Japan modernization and restoration


Long before the Island of Japan was developed; it seemed to lie silently at its place. This was until United States found interest in relating with it and sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to sign a treaty. Japan was reluctant to do this and they wanted Perry to leave their nation. Eventually the treaty was made because possible by two factors. The first was the need for USA to trade with China and they needed to refuel using coal. Japan had huge deposits of coal, which they sold to Perry’s troupe. In the next several years, Japan found itself with unequal treaties with other countries like Russia, France, Britain and Dutch. The country faced a threat of having too much foreign control. Japan took action against the western control through their initial leaders. Later on, they accepted westernization and reforms during the Meiji era and Perry’s influence (Baxter & Joshua, 20).

Sakuma Shozam       

Sakuma Shozan’s literature was written after he was out after a short term of imprisonment. He supported modernization and reforms but insists it is important to maintain the values and ethics of Japan. This is why he had a policy that stated people could embrace western science techniques but maintain Eastern ethics. He did not believe in being carried away by western culture and abandoning his own. He also wanted to the people to avoid foreign influence and use only when necessary. The piece of literature uses many examples of mobilizing people to allow modernization in improving their lives. For example, he says that a person has a sick relative and the medication is rare to find. Fortunately, the medicine is found and the person acquires it. Shozan says he will beseech his relative to take for him or her to get well. He will not mind the quality of name or the cost. In case the relative declines because he dislikes the name, he will administer to him or her secretly (Shozan, 2010). This phrase was putting emphasis on the need for adapting important reforms and modernization. His main point was the people should not turn down western modernization for no viable reasons. Just as the medicine is important to the sick relative is the same way Japan should allow essential development from the western countries.

Shozan continues to tell the people that they should not only adapt scientific techniques but also virtues from west. He specifically rules out greed of power and wealth, which seem to affect the western people. All other important values like honesty, love and patriotism, they are allowed to emulate. Most of all the concerns, he addresses national defense. He was worried because there was not much advancement in the military. The country could have vulnerable to foreigners influence. He said that even though the people did not want intrusion from foreigners, it would be impossible. The artillery is poorly made and this makes the military weak to keep defense. The leaders are also less concerned because they do not have the capacity of keeping away adversaries. These problems in national defense could only be addressed by improving the military using western technology. Japan had to acquire education from west and use it to improve their country (Shozan, 2010).

The key to reforms and modernization was embracing education. All the developments and reforms could only be made when people of Japan had to be educated. Shozan specifically mentioned Mathematics as one of the most important subject in advancing military tactics. He insisted that the military has to complete this course if it expected to be successful. He compared their current teachings from Sunzi and stated that their system remained dormant with no chance for growth. This is why it was important to borrow from the west. Mathematics was not the only thing to learn from West. He said it was important to learn their Native language. This was the best way to study them and their motives. The general idea of Sakuma Shozan was to lay out the importance of allowing modernization and reforms in Japan. However, they should not blindly embrace every culture, but choose only the beneficial ones (Shozan, 2010).

Iwasaki Yataro

This writer was concerned about trade in Japan. He was against the idea of foreigners having total control on coastal trade. He did agree that there are advantages of trading with foreigners, but they should not be allowed to make unfair treaties and dominate Japan’s trade. To him, self-governance was part of modernization and making reforms. This is why foreigners should only make necessary trade relations with the country and not beyond that. He outlined some disadvantages of foreign control on the coastal trade. For example, most of the citizens would lose their jobs and business opportunities. It would also compromise the country’s security because the foreigners might learn the country’s defensive tactics (Yataro, 2011).

Modernization is not only making positive changes in the country but also preserving what rightfully belongs to the country. Yataro makes it clear when he alerts the people to be careful not to dangerously engage with foreigners. Independence is part of modernization because colonialism and slavery is outdated. Therefore, engaged carelessly with foreigners can result to neo-colonialism. On the other hand, he agrees that it is very important to allow foreigners to participate in coastal trade because they would open up a wider market. For example, the Americans bought coal from Japan as they proceeded to go and trade with China. Both local and international trade would enhance the country’s economy. One of the reforms made under the influence of Yataro is eliminating to the dominion of Pacific Mail Company from USA. Heretofore Company was given protection by the government and support from employees and the rest of the country. This was where Yataro worked so his influence began from where he worked (Yataro, 2011).

Other reforms done that were suggested by Yataro were made in the work places. He suggested that there was no need of having insignificant positions in work places. This would cut down on expenditures. He added that other unnecessary costs should also be eliminated. The company will enjoy a bigger margin and have easier administration. He explained that it had been a major factor causing hard times in the past. He encouraged all workers to engage in hard work and the administration to make the required reforms. It would result to success in the companies. He called upon all people to join him in efforts of bringing positive change in the country. His main goal was to gain full dominion of the coastal trade in Japan. He emphasized that this would be the greatest achievement for the country and the whole world would know (Yataro, 2011).

Japan’s commitment to westernization and reforms

            The unequal treaties made the country feel they were being deceived by foreigners. Therefore, they worked hard to embrace industrialization and scientific revolutions. They realized that they could not get rid of the treaties in their current state because had an inferior state. They also felt the need to be competitive in the modern world. The first thing was to bring a state of unity and nationalism in the country. Making reforms and modernization would be possible only if there was unity in the country. They started education, which not only made people literate but also promoted patriotism. The military learnt not to question authority and sacrifice themselves in serving the country (Baxter & Joshua, 67).

After achieving national pride, the oligarchs started on the reforms. They made sure that the Samurai status was ended. They were no longer allowed to have swords and warrior class became bureaucrats. Initially peasants used to carry arm but they were forbidden. Instead, they were enrolled in the army and they could serve the country in a better way. The old and outdated type of education was abandoned and good schools were built. They adopted the western education system. Later, infrastructure was built. Telegraphs were readily available, railway lines, all weather roads and postal services. Through the western scientific techniques, Japan was able to improve it shipbuilding technology. Another industrial that really did well was in textile. Its development enabled it to supply more than a third of world silk. The exports boosted shipbuilding by seven percent in 1893. By the year 1913, the improvement had risen up to fifty two percent (Baxter & Joshua, 82 ).

This progress in Japan was very big considering the number of years. It was made possible by the fact that the people agreed to accept change and become flexible. During the Meiji era, Japanese were good in baseball and it was the most popular sport. They had definitely borrowed the game west yet they played it with so much expertise. There is an interesting story behind baseball in Japan. Americans felt proud because they were the pioneers of this game. therefore, they were the best (97). They felt that they needed to show off to the Japanese. However, it took the next five years for the Japanese to agree to a game. It was to happen in a club that Japanese were never allowed. In addition to this, the audience of comprised of Americans who booed down the Japanese. Surprisingly, the Japanese won that game and another that was organized. This act showed the determination and hard work in the Japanese.

The country ensured that children got the best education. The missionaries who were in the country initiated exchange programs for students. Students had an opportunity of going learn from other countries. Many students came home and got important roles in the Meiji era. Japan also involved itself in open relation with other countries. For instance, it invited advisors from foreign countries (Baxter & Joshua, 191). During this era, there were about twenty thousand foreigners from twenty-three countries. Despite the advice from foreigners, the people did not blindly embrace all western culture and abandon their own. They only considered what was relevant and left out the rest. This is why the country is popular with its cultures of art, which was initially there in the traditional days.


            Many people categorize Japan as a country that rationally chose what it needed from the west. For example, they emulated science techniques, infrastructure, education and social system. They used them to suit their needs and it worked very well for them. This was successful because before they allowed western influence the oligarchs studied it in those western countries. Therefore, they were sure how to apply it in their country and make it relevant. Since that era, the generations have continued the culture of technological advancement. Japan is one of the most technologically developed countries in the world. They use the most advanced methods of agriculture. It has a strong economy because the citizens are hard- working people. In fact, they are considered workaholics. The government always requests them to have enough rest because they work too much. Japanese people attract attention from all over the world because of their interesting culture (Baxter & Joshua, 211).     

Works cited

Baxter, James C, and Joshua A. Fogel. Writing Histories in Japan: Texts and Their Transformations from Ancient Times Through the Meiji Era. Kyoto, Japan: InternationalResearchCenter for Japanese Studies, 2007. Print.

Iwasaki Yataro. Sources of Japan History. Letter to Mitsubishi Employees. 2008. 7th March 2012

Sakuma Shovan. Eastern Ethics and Western Science. Reflection on my errors. 2010. 7th March 2012.

Use the order calculator below and get started! Contact our live support team for any assistance or inquiry.