Essay about Transformation of Japan

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Transformation of Japan

During the time period between the 1850s and 1950s, Japan underwent massive changes politically, economically, and socially. Acknowledging the failure of isolation, Japan imitated the West in an attempt to modernize, however, still retaining its own identity. A reorganized and more centralized government allowed Japan to industrialize in half the time it took the nations of Western Europe. Industrialization provided Japan with the tools needed to transform itself from a half civilized and “backwards” society during isolation, to a dominating superpower during WWII.

In 1853 during the Tokugawa shogunate, Matthew Perry, an American commodore, arrived with an army at Edo Bay to coerce the Japanese
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Japan entered the race for colonies. Japan became imperialist after 1890 due to the need to pay the new army, search for raw materials and new resources, and avoid Western intrusion of Japan’s possessions. Japan quickly defeated China in the Sino-Japanese War in 1895 gaining territory in northern China. In 1902, Japan allied itself with Britain, demonstrating the arrival of Japan as an equal to the Western powers. In 1904, Japan won the Russo-Japanese war on account of its superior navy. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea. Economically, Korea was economically exploited.

The Great depression called for radical measures, which included military aggression. Japanese military played a major role in setting diplomatic policy. The military was separate from the bureaucracy and adhered to the emperor. The military saw Japan’s liberalism as a threat to traditional Japanese values and customs and the military’s position in the government. In 1931, the military captured Manchuria without government approval. In 1932, several military officials assassinated the prime minister. As a result, a mildly military government was created as militaristic prime ministers presided. The militaristic prime ministers called for expansion in Asia to create an empire. The demand for wider conquests by the military drove Japan to enter WWII.

After WWII, Japan was devastated by war, but the aid of the U.S. allowed them to recover quickly. The

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