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Japan is believed to have been founded in the year 710 by the Tang Dynasty but shortly after, it was able to develop its own traditional Chinese ways. Japan has a more possibility of handling many new ideas in the society. Everything new has been always welcomed in this country. From the start, the country has been able to set out on the saying, “Japanese Spirit, western things”. Japan has been ranked as one of the most innovative and wealthiest countries in the modern world. Its path to modernization has turned out to be very successful. Modernization is a revolution model of transition from the traditional or the pre-modern society to a modern one.
The contemporary Japan is a modern constitutional monarchy with a strong economy and an advanced infrastructure system. It is considered to be one of the world leaders in technology and export-import industries. Japan has a highly educated population with an extremely rich culture. In Japan the technological milestones have been of help to so many areas and have also assisted in making many people’s lives better and it is renowned for its best educational system in the whole world. The Japanese are agents of their own change, sovereign in their decisions to advance their nation-state by internal or external means.
Japan did not just become one of the most prosperous nations, it underwent several periods from the Baku-Han system which were the systems of the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. The Edo period, which is commonly known as the Tokugawa period which was in 1603-1867, and it was succeeded by the Meiji Restoration. This period represented the Japanese early modernization period. Tokugawa Leyasu was the first who established the Edo period in the Japanese history. This period is regarded by scientists as the period of the 250 years of the country’s stability.
The bakuhan was a political system in Japan. This word consists of two terms han and bakufu which were used to describe the society and the government of that period. It represented a new feudal unity which explained why the Tokugawa was very powerful during the first century of their rule because the redistribution of land gave them about 7 million koku. As a result, they controlled most of the important cities in the country, and they got large revenues from the land assessment systems. The emperor, all daimyo, the religious orders, and all courts were subordinated to the Tokugawa.
Japan was able to develop very many of its economic and modern social structures during the Tokugawa period where the castle towns were built to be manufacturing and commercial centers, and there was also the emergence of merchants and artisans who were prosperous middle class. The shogunate was weakened by many factors which included the top-heavy bureaucracy, economic policies, which were antiquated, and the unrest which was rapidly rising among the lower classes. The Edo period was succeeded by the Meiji restoration in 1868 when the emperor was given back his power and the Tokugan shogun was reduced to a common daimyo rank.
The Meiji period was between 1868 -1912 and it represented the Japanese empire’s first half. The word Meiji means “enlightened rule”. In 1868, the leaders of the Meiji period were able to boost the morale and also win the new government’s financial support where it had five main provisions which included the establishment of the assemblies which were deliberative, the involvement of all the classes in the carrying out of all the state affairs, the sumptuary laws revocation and restrictions on employments for different classes, evil customs replacement, and search of international knowledge. In the Meiji period, Japan was a military weak country, it had limited technological development, and it depended very much on the agricultural produce.
The Taish%u014D period was between 1912 -1926 and it was a period of the great righteousness which coincided with the Taish%u014D Emperor. Since the new emperor was weak, the political power was shifted from the outdated oligarchic group which was made up of elder statesmen to the new Diet of Japan which had democratic parties. The Taish%u014D democracy was distinguishable from the Meiji period, and the Sh%u014Dwa period was materialistic driven.
The Sh%u014Dwa period was between 1926 -1989. It was a period of the enlightenment of peace and harmony. It was one of the longest periods in the Japanese history. In this period, the country’s economy rose at a very fast rate which made it to become the second economically developed country in the world after the United States of America.
The forces that pushed the Japanese empire towards modernism were the post war recovery since the economy of the country was paralyzed due to the destruction caused by the wars. There were food shortages for both the soldiers of the war and the ordinary civilians, the inflation was very high and increased at a very fast rate. The nation had lost control of all its oversea territories, its companies were destroyed and burned down by the air raids. The defeat in the World War II is what mainly led the nation towards modernization.
The air superiority was the main trigger for the Allied victory in the World War II and led to the use of the atomic bomb by the United States of America so as to end the war. During this period of the World War II, each and every side tried hard to be ahead in technology so as to be able to win the war; a number of nations ventured into the secrets of using and manufacturing atomic energy. The United States was the first nation to develop the atomic bomb which was the ultimate weapon. The dropping of the atomic bombs to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a significant turning point in the human history on the 6th and 9th of August, 1945. It was a symbol to show the results of the industrial revolution.
In the rapid industrialization and militarization of the imperial Japan, people operated under the slogan “wealthy nation, strong army” which made the country to become a great world power which cultivated its membership in the Axis alliance and the conquest of the largest Asia pacific region. The Japanese emperor ruled a very big part of overseas territories. As a result, Japan became one of the biggest maritime empires in the world history.
The western imperialism forced Japan to leave and abolish the old Meiji constitution. The Constitution of Japan was introduced and the empire of Japan was renamed to Japan in the year 1947. It was then that Japan was able to adopt a political system where the Parliament took the initial position but not the emperor. This symbolized the new Japan which was more modern than the empire of Japan which had adapted the old traditional systems of governance.
At the end of the Meiji period, Japan had a very bureaucratic government which was highly centralized. It had the Constitution which established the election of the parliament. Japan had a well-developed communication system as well as the transport one. The Japanese population was highly educated and free of the restrictions of the feudal class. The industrial sector started highly growing which was based on the use of the technology that was very new, and the country had a very strong navy and army.
The Tokugawa transition made Japan to be the first Asian country that became a highly industrialized nation. In the Meiji period, there was the limited foreign trade and commercial activities were mostly domestic. This helped in meeting all the demands of the material culture in the Edo period. In the Meiji era, the leaders were very willing to embrace the market economy concept and they also adopted the free enterprise capitalism of the British. They welcomed the private sector which was very abundant in aggressive entrepreneurs.
In the modernization of Japan, there were the economic reforms which included the formation of a unified form of modified currency which was based on the Yen, tax and commercial laws, banking, communications network, and stock exchanges. There was the establishment of new and modern institutional frameworks which were very conducive to the capitalist economy which was advanced, though it took a lot of time to be completed. It was done in the 1890s. By that time the government had relinquished all the direct control of the modernization process which was taking place in the country for the budgetary purposes.
A majority of the former daimyo who had been paid their pensions in lump sum were very lucky because they benefitted greatly from the investments that they had made in the industries which were emerging, and those who had gotten involved in the foreign trade which was before the Meiji Restoration period were also very prosperous. The industries and firms which embraced the latest technologies were very successful as well. , On the other hand, the old bakufu serving firms which were very strict to their traditional ways were total failures in the business environment which was very new because of the technologies which had evolved drastically.
The government of Japan was also involved in the economic modernization through the provision of large numbers of model factories so as to facilitate all the transitions which were necessary in the modern period. The industrial economy was seen to have expanded in the first 20 years of the Meiji Restoration period which expanded at a very fast rate up to the year 1920 where the inputs were made up of the advanced technology which was from the Western culture and other private investments. It is worth noting that these investments in the economy of Japan were rather large and significant. After the World War I, Japan emerged as a major industrialized nation.
Modernization is very important in the improving the living standards of the human life. Traditional cultures don’t need to reject the modernization opportunities that may be exposed and they still should not be absorbed by these modernization streams. Each nation should be able to embrace modernization as a step towards the economic growth of the country since modernization helps in the total outputs which are produced by the factories because of the presence of new and advanced technology and it also leads to the improved learning facilities which can help in the provision of skills and reducing the illiteracy rates that are still a major problem in very many countries of today. Japan is a very good example of a country which has its own fate in modernization by examining the roles of elites, intellectuals, and the popular movements all through the three periods of the Japanese modernization; Meiji (1868-1911), Taisho (1912-1926), and Showa (1926-1986).