Japan since Perry

Japan since Perry

Japan since Perry

Japan since Perry

Excerpt

The past century of Japan's development has been clearly an integral and inseparable part of world history. Important events within Japan itself were influenced, if not induced, by what happened in other parts of the world. The events of the nineteen thirties which led almost inexorably to the Pacific War have demonstrated that developments within Japan could have severe repercussions and far-reaching consequences on the rest of the world. It is now being demonstrated that the future of Japan depends more on what other nations do than what the Japanese people themselves can or will do. In the last few years we have become increasingly aware of the fact that Japan's future role in the fastshifting scenes of world politics must be evaluated in the light of her past developments and achievements. The present volume attempts to present the events, personalities, and policies which contributed to Japan's emergence from a feudal nation. This was achieved through unremitting and undeviating efforts by her leaders who followed a carefully worked-out blueprint.

Almost a century ago Japan was impelled by world conditions to abandon, not without considerable misgivings, her centuries-old policy of seclusion and isolation. But once the decision was reached, the nation went about transforming itself into a modern power to a degree sufficient to gain admittance into the family of nations in a space of less than fifty years. The price paid for the achievement was high. What Japan achieved was not so much the enhancement of the dignity of the individual as the creation of a strong state capable of coping with nineteenth-century nationalism and expansionism. Westernization and modernization, which were carried out vigorously, were more material than spiritual and more in the techniques of production than in the advancement of the wellbeing of the people. Impelling needs for national economic and military strength set the course of the nation.

In the feverish effort to adopt and assimilate the ideas and institutions of Europe and America, the leaders showed little inclination to change the nation's traditional concepts, mores, thought patterns or institutions except when they stood in the way of progress. This resulted in an incongruous juxtaposition of Oriental and Occidental ideas and ideals as well as of old and new, and gave rise to inconsistencies, anachronisms, anomalies, and serious conflicts which could not easily be resolved. Japan is only now beginning to show signs of assimilating and digesting some of the elements of Western civilization which were first introduced three quarters of a century ago, but the process is painfully slow.

So far there has not appeared any standard work, either in Japanese or in any other language, which covers the recent history of Japan's development, that is . . .

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