Monday, February 24, 2014

History (contd-2)- Modern Japan-WWI

In Japan, the modern period begins with the Meiji Restoration of the 1860s, marking the rapid modernization by the Japanese themselves along European lines. Much research has focused on the issues of discontinuity versus continuity with the previous Edo (Tokugawa) Period. In the 1960s, younger Japanese scholars led by Irokawa Daikichi reacted against the bureaucratic superstate and began searching for the historic role of the common people . They avoided the elite and focused not on political events but on social forces and attitudes. They rejected both Marxism and modernization theory as alien and confining. They stressed the importance of popular energies in the development of modern Japan. They enlarged history by using the methods of social history.
Representative Western scholars of modern Japan include George Akita, William Beasley, James B. Crowley, John W. Dower, Peter Duus, Carol Gluck, Norman Herbert, John W. Hall, Mikiso Hane, Akira Iriye,Marius JansenEdwin O. ReischauerGeorge B. Sansom, Bernard Silberman, Richard Storry, Karel van Wolfram, and Ez
ra Vogel.(Ezra Feivel Vogel (born July 11, 1930) is a Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard University and has written on Japan, China, and Asia.)

Economic modernization

Japan's industrial revolution began about 1870 as national leaders decided to catch up with the West. The government built railroads, improved roads, and inaugurated a land reform program to prepare the country for further development. Modern industry first appeared in textiles, including cotton and especially silk, which was based in home workshops in rural areas.[82] the government inaugurated a new Western-based education system for all young people, sent thousands of students to the United States and Europe, and hired more than 3,000 Westerners to teach modern science, mathematics, technology, and foreign languages in Japan (O-yatoi gaikokujin).
Emperor Meiji, the 122nd emperor of Japan.
In 1871 a group of Japanese politicians known as the Iwakura Missiontoured Europe and the USA to learn western ways. The result was a deliberate state-led industrialisation policy to enable Japan to quickly catch up. The Bank of Japan, founded in 1877, used taxes to fund model steel and textile factories. Education was expanded and Japanese students were sent to study in the West.

Childhood transformed

Childhood as a distinct phase of life was apparent in the early modern period, when social and economic changes brought increased attention to children, the growth of schooling and child-centered rituals. A modern concept of childhood emerged in Japan after 1850 as part of its engagement with the West. Meiji era leaders decided the nation-state had the primary role in mobilizing individuals – and children – in service of the state. The Western-style school was introduced as the agent to reach that goal. By the 1890s, schools were generating new sensibilities regarding childhood. After 1890 Japan had numerous reformers, child experts, magazine editors, and well-educated mothers who bought into the new sensibility. They taught the upper middle class a model of childhood that included children having their own space where they read children's books, played with educational toys and, especially, devoted enormous time to school homework. These ideas rapidly disseminated through all social classes 

Wars with China and Russia

Japanese intellectuals of the late-Meiji period espoused the concept of a "line of advantage", an idea that would help to justify Japanese foreign policy around the start of the 20th century. According to this principle, embodied in the slogan fukoku kyōhei, Japan would be vulnerable to aggressive Western imperialism unless it extended a line of advantage beyond its borders which would help to repel foreign incursions and strengthen the Japanese economy. Emphasis was especially placed on Japan's "preeminent interests" in the Korean Peninsula, once famously described as a "dagger pointed at the heart of Japan". It was tensions over Korea and Manchuria, respectively, that led Japan to become involved in the first Sino-Japanese War with China in 1894–1895 and the Russo-Japanese War with Russia in 1904–1905.
The war with China made Japan the world's first Eastern, modern imperial power, and the war with Russia proved that a Western power could be defeated by an Eastern state. The aftermath of these two wars left Japan the dominant power in the Far East with a sphere of influence extending over southern Manchuria and Korea, which was formally annexed as part of the Japanese Empire in 1910. Japan had also gained half of Sakhalin Island from Russia. The results of these wars established Japan's dominant interest in Korea, while giving it thePescadores Islands, Formosa (now Taiwan), and the Liaodong Peninsula in Manchuria, which was eventually retroceded in the "humiliating" Triple Intervention.
Over the next decade, Japan would flaunt its growing prowess, including a very significant contribution to theEight-Nation Alliance formed to quell China's Boxer Rebellion. Many Japanese, however, believed their new empire was still regarded as inferior by the Western powers, and they sought a means of cementing their international standing. This set the climate for growing tensions with Russia, which would continually intrude into Japan's "line of advantage" during this time.
Russian pressure from the north appeared again after Muraviev had gained Outer Manchuria at Aigun (1858) and Peking (1860). This led to heavy Russian pressure on Sakhalin which the Japanese eventually yielded in exchange for the Kuril islands (1875). The Ryūkyū Islands were similarly secured in 1879, establishing the borders within which Japan would "enter the World". In 1898, the last of the unequal treaties with Western powers was removed, signaling Japan's new status among the nations of the world. In a few decades by reforming and modernizing social, educational, economic, military, political and industrial systems, the Emperor Meiji's "controlled revolution" had transformed a feudal and isolated state into a world power. Significantly, the impetus for this change was the belief that Japan had to compete with the West both industrially and militarily to achieve equality.

Anglo-Japanese Alliance

The Anglo-Japanese Alliance treaty was signed with Britain in 1902. It was renewed in 1905 and 1911 before its demise in 1921 and its termination in 1923. It was a military alliance between the two countries that threatened Russia and Germany. Due to this alliance, Japan entered World War I on the side of Great Britain. Japan seized German bases in China and the pacific. The Treaty facilitated cultural and technological exchange between the two countries.

Taishō period

Emperor Meiji, suffering from diabetesnephritis, and gastroenteritis, died of uremia. Although the official announcement said he died at 00:42 on 30 July 1912, the actual death was at 22:40 on 29 July.[88][89] After the emperor's death in 1912, the Japanese Diet passed a resolution to commemorate his role in the Meiji Restoration. An iris garden in an area of Tokyo where Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken had been known to visit was chosen as the building's location for the Shinto shrine Meijijingu.
Emperor Taishō then ascended to the throne. The new emperor was kept out of view of the public as much as possible. Having suffered from various neurological problems throughout his life, by the late 1910s, these maladies made it increasingly impossible for him to carry out public functions. On one of the rare occasions he was seen in public, the 1913 opening of the Diet of Japan, he is famously reported to have rolled his prepared speech into a cylinder and stared at the assembly through it, as if through a spyglass. Although rumors attributed this to poor mental condition, others, including those who knew him well, believed that he may have been checking to make sure the speech was rolled up properly, as his manual dexterity was also handicapped.[90]
The reclusive and detached life of Emperor Taishō strongly contrasted with that of the charismatic Emperor Meiji, which lead to the waning imperial power in this period, and the so-called Taishō democracy.

World War I

Photograph of Marunouchi, Tokyo 1920
Japan entered World War I on the Allied side and declared war on the Central Powers. Though Japan's role was limited largely to seizing German colonial outposts in East Asia and the Pacific, it took advantage of the opportunity to expand its influence in Asia and its territorial holdings in the Pacific. Acting virtually independently of the civil government, the Japanese navy seized Germany's Micronesian colonies. It also attacked and occupied the German coaling port of Qingdao in the Chinese Shandongpeninsula.
Japan went to the peace conference at Versailles in 1919 as one of the great military and industrial powers of the world and received official recognition as one of the "Big Five" of the new international order. It joined the League of Nations and received a mandate over Pacific islands north of the Equator formerly held by Germany. Japan was also involved in the post-war Allied intervention in Russia, occupying Russian (Outer) Manchuria and also north Sakhalin (which held Japan's limited oil reserves). It was the last Allied power to withdraw from the interventions against Soviet Russia (doing so in 1925).
The post–World War I era brought Japan unprecedented prosperity.