Essay about Japanese Colonialism and Modernization in Korea

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Japanese Colonialism and Modernization in Korea

There have been many accounts that attempt to identify why Japan entered Korea with such force and why it subjected its people to some of the horrific treatment that they were given. Most schools of thought concentrate on the fact that Japan needed an empire to stand any chance of competing with Britain, and later America, on the world stage. Britain’s insertion into China was a reality check for Japan who saw how close Britain’s empire was to their homeland. In addition Japans army would almost certainly wane under the pressure from Britain if it came down to it. Therefore it was essential for Japan to build an empire, if not for conventional reasons
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However to sustain control Japan needed more resources and these were perceived to be in Korea.

By this point Korea had begun modernisation. It was well on its way to modernizing and it had imported vast amounts of machinery from China and Russia to help with its agricultural boom. Industries were also growing fast as mining became a more common sight around the outskirts of Seoul. Consequently the Korean army begun to find its feet and its size doubled over the second half of the nineteenth century.

This was a threat to Japan but even more so was the belief in Korea that they had established themselves as the Far East’s strongest economy. Moreover they also considered themselves to have a stronger army than Japans. All this was the direct result of modernisation where its power evolved. Unemployment in Korea had fallen and in comparison to Japans internal issues and population issues, Korea was settled and content.

After 1868 Meiji rulers began to modernise in Japan who felt that any modernisation in Korea had to be overshadowed by Japan. By 1894 the Japanese had built up an empire and it was not a victim to colonial Imperial powers. In effect Japan was using the western powers as its benchmark for the future.

Although a key reason for invading Korea was its threat of modernization