• China and Japan present a marked physical contrast. China is a vast continental country that spans many climatic zones; core is dominated by three major river systems: Yellow River [Huang He], Yangtse River [Chang Jiang] and Pearl River.
• dominant ethnic group are Han and major language is Chinese [Putonghua] but there are many other nationalities, such as Uighur, Hui, Manchu & Tibetan.
• Chinese food reflects this regional diversity with at least four distinct types. best known is southern or Cantonese cuisine – as most overseas Chinese come from Canton area – which includes dim sum [literally touch your heart], an assortment of pastries and dumplings.
• In eastern China, both rice & wheat are eaten.
• Japan, by contrast, is a string of islands, four largest being Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku & Hokkaido. Okinawan chain is southernmost, about same latitude as Bahamas.
• Japan lacks a tradition of animal rearing. Rice is staple crop and fish major source of protein.
Political System [Japan]
• An emperor had ruled Japan from Kyoto, but by twelfth century, imperial court lost power to shoguns, who in theory ruled in name of emperor. From 1603 to 1867, members of Tokugawa family held position of shogun.
• shogun exercised power over domain lords, ordering them to stay at capital Edo [modern Tokyo] for long periods so they would not pose a threat.
• A vibrant culture blossomed in towns, where fast-growing class of merchants patronised theatre and arts.
• In Edo, people could ‘rent’ a book for price of a bowl of noodles. This shows how popular reading had become and gives a glimpse into scale of printing.
• Japan was considered rich, because it imported luxury goods like silk from China and textiles from India.
• silk from Nishijin came to be called best in world. Other developments such as increased use of money and creation of a stock market in rice show that economy was developing in new ways.
• In 1853, USA sent Commodore Matthew Perry [1794–1858] to Japan to demand that government sign a treaty that would permit trade and open diplomatic relations, which it did following year.
• Perry’s arrival had an important effect on Japanese politics. emperor, who till then had little political power, now re-emerged as an important figure.
• In 1868, a movement forcibly removed shogun from power and brought Emperor to Edo. It was made capital and renamed Tokyo, which means ‘eastern capital’.
• government launched a policy with slogan ‘fukoku kyohei’ [rich country, strong army].
• At same time, new government worked to build what they known as emperor system.
• Emperor would be treated with reverence as he was considered a direct descendant of Sun Goddess, but he was shown as leader of westernisation.
• Imperial Rescript on Education of 1890 urged people to pursue learning, advance public good and promote common interests.
• A new school system began to be built in 1870s. Schooling was compulsory for boys and girls and by 1910 almost universal.
• Tuition fees were minimal. curriculum had been based on Western models but by 1870s, while emphasising modern ideas, stress was placed on loyalty and study of Japanese history.
• To integrate nation, Meiji government imposed a new administrative structure by altering old village and domain boundaries.
• A modern military force was developed. A legal system was set up to regulate formation of political groups, control holding of meetings and impose strict censorship.
• tension between these different ideals represented by a democratic constitution and a modern army was to have far-reaching consequences.
• Popular demand for greater democracy was often in opposition to government’s aggressive policies.
• Japan developed economically and acquired a colonial empire that suppressed spread of democracy at home and put it in collision with people it colonised.
• Funds were raised by levying an agricultural tax.
• first railroad in Japan was built between Tokyo and port of Yokohama between 1870 and 1872. Europe sent textile machines, and foreign experts were hired to train workers and teach in universities and schools. Japanese students were also sent to study abroad.
• In 1872, first modern banks were set up. Companies like Mitsubishi and Sumitomo were helped to become major shipbuilders by giving them subsidies and tax breaks. This meant that Japanese ships would now be used to carry Japanese trade.
• Within Japan, there was a shift to towns as industry developed. By 1925, 21% of population lived in cities; by 1935, this figure had gone up to 32% [22.5 million].
• number of people in manufacturing increased from 700,000 in 1870 to 4 million in 1913. Over half of those employed in modern factories were women.
• size of factories began to increase. Factories employing more than a hundred workers, just over 1,000 in 1909, jumped to over 2,000 by 1920 and 4,000 by 1930s.
• rapid and unregulated growth of industry and demand for natural resources such as timber led to environmental destruction.
• Tanaka Shozo, elected to first House of Representatives, launched first agitation against industrial pollution in 1897 with 800 villagers in a mass protest forcing government to take action.
• Meiji constitution was based on a restricted franchise and created a Diet [the Japanese used German word for parliament because of influence of German legal ideas] with limited powers.
• emperor was commander of forces, and from 1890 this was interpreted to mean that army and navy had independent control.
• In 1899, prime minister ordered that only serving generals and admirals could become ministers.
• patriarchal household system comprised many generations living together under control of head of house, but as more people became affluent, new ideas of family spread.
• new home [homu as Japanese say, using English word] was that of nuclear family, where husband and wife lived as breadwinners and homemakers.
• In 1920s, construction companies made cheap housing available for a down payment of 200 yen and a monthly installment of 12 yen for ten years – this at a time when salary of a bank employee [a person with higher education] was 40 yen per month.
‘Westernisation’ and ‘Tradition’
• Successive generations of Japanese intellectuals had different views on Japan’s relations with other countries.
• To some, USA & western European countries were at highest point of civilisation, to which Japan aspired.
• Fukuzawa Yukichi, a leading Meiji intellectual, expressed this by saying that Japan must ‘expel Asia’.
• philosopher Miyake Setsurei [1860–1945] argued that each nation must develop its special talents in interest of world civilisation: ‘To devote oneself to one’s country is to devote oneself to world.’
• State-centred nationalism found full expression in 1930s and 1940s as Japan launched wars to extend its empire in China and other parts of Asia, a war that merged into Second World War after Japan attacked USA at Pearl Harbour.
• An influential symposium on ‘Overcoming Modernity’ in 1943 debated dilemma facing Japan – of how to combat West while being modern.
• A musician, Moroi Saburo, posed question of how to rescue music from art of sensory stimulation and restore it to art of spirit.
• philosopher Nishitani Keiji defined ‘modern’ as unity of three streams of Western thought: Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, and rise of natural sciences.
After Defeat: Re-emerging as a Global Economic Power
• Japan’s attempt to carve out a colonial empire ended with its defeat by Allied forces.
• Under US-led Occupation [1945–47] Japan was demilitarised and a new constitution was introduced.
• Agrarian reforms, re-establishment of trade unions and an attempt to dismantle zaibatsu or large monopoly houses that dominated Japanese economy were carried out.
• Political parties were revived and first post-war elections were held in 1946 where women voted for first time.
• rapid rebuilding of Japanese economy after its shattering defeat was known as a post-war miracle.
• social cohesion of pre-war years was strengthened, allowing for a close working of government, bureaucracy and industry.
• US support, as well as demand created by Korean and Vietnamese wars helped Japanese economy.
• The 1960s saw growth of civil society movements as industrialisation had been pushed with utter disregard for its effect on health and environment.
• Cadmium poisoning, which led to a painful disease, was an early indicator, followed by mercury poisoning in Minamata in 1960s and problems caused by air pollution in early 1970s.
• Grass-roots pressure groups began to demand recognition of these problems as well as compensation for victims.
• Government action and new legal regulations helped to improve conditions.
• Since mid-1980s there has been an increasing decline in interest in environmental issues as Japan enacted some of strictest environmental controls in world.
• modern history of China has revolved around question of how to regain sovereignty, end humiliation of foreign occupation and bring about equality and development.
• early reformers such as Kang Youwei [1858–1927] or Liang Qichao [1873–1929] tried to use traditional ideas in new and different ways to meet challenges posed by West.
• first time China met West was in 1600s and 1700s, when Jesuit missionaries brought Western sciences like astronomy and math to China. It was start of modern China.
• Even though its immediate effects were small, it set off a chain of events that led to First Opium War in 1800s, when Britain used force to grow its profitable opium trade [1839–42].
• bad example of colonised countries had a strong effect on way Chinese people thought. In 18th century, Poland was split up into three parts.
• In 1903, thinker Liang Qichao wrote that India was a country that was destroyed by a non-country called East India Company. He thought that if people knew that China was a country, they would be able to stand up to West.
• Confucianism, developed from teachings of Confucius [551–479 BCE] and his disciples, was concerned with good conduct, practical wisdom and proper social relationships.
• To train people in modern subjects students were sent to study in Japan, Britain & France and bring back new ideas.
• Many Chinese students went to Japan in 1890s. They not only brought back new ideas but many became leading republicans.
• In 1905, just after Russo-Japanese war [a war fought on Chinese soil and over Chinese territory], centuries-old Chinese examination system that gave candidates entry into elite ruling class was abolished.
• Manchu empire was overthrown and a republic was established in 1911 under Sun Yat-sen [1866– 1925] who is unanimously regarded as founder of modern China.
• social and political situation continued to be unstable. On 4 May 1919, an angry demonstration was held in Beijing to protest against decisions of post-war peace conference.
Protesting turned into a movement. It made a whole generation want to fight against tradition and call for modern science, democracy, and nationalism to save China.
• Guomindang [the National People’s Party] and CCP emerged as major forces striving to unite country and bring stability.
• Sun Yat-sen’s ideas became basis of political philosophy of Guomindang. They identified ‘four great needs’ as clothing, food, housing & transportation. people, he said, must develop a ‘habit and instinct for unified behaviour’.
• Guomindang’s social base was in urban areas. Industrial growth was slow and limited. In cities such as Shanghai, which became centres of modern growth, by 1919 an industrial working class had appeared numbering 500,000.
• Social and cultural change was helped along by spread of schools and universities [Peking University was established in 1902].
• Journalism flourished reflecting growing attraction of this new thinking.
• Guomindang despite its attempts to unite country failed because of its narrow social base and limited political vision. A major plank in Sun Yat-sen’s programme – regulating capital and equalizing land – was never carried out because party ignored peasantry and rising social inequalities.
Rise of Communist Party of China
• long and exhausting war weakened China. Prices rose 30% per month between 1945 and 1949 and utterly destroyed lives of ordinary people.
• Rural China faced two crises: one ecological, with soil exhaustion, deforestation and floods, and second, a socio-economic one caused by exploitative landtenure systems, indebtedness, primitive technology and poor communications.
• CCP had been founded in 1921, soon after Russian Revolution.
• Comintern and Soviet Union supported communist parties around world but they worked within traditional Marxist understanding that revolution would be brought about by working class in cities.
• Mao Zedong’s radical approach can be seen in Jiangxi, in mountains, where they camped from 1928 to 1934, secure from Guomindang attacks.
• Guomindang blockade of Communists’ Soviet forced party to seek another base.
Establishing New Democracy: 1949–65
• Peoples Republic of China government was established in 1949. It was based on principles of ‘New Democracy’, an alliance of all social classes, unlike ‘dictatorship of proletariat’ that Soviet Union said it had established.
• Great Leap Forward movement launched in 1958 was a policy to galvanise country to industrialise rapidly.
• In rural areas, people’s communes [where land would be collectively owned and cultivated] were started.
• Mao was able to mobilise masses to attain goals set by Party. His concern was with creating a ‘socialist man’ who would have five loves: fatherland, people, labour, science & public property.
Conflicting Visions: 1965–78
• conflict between Maoists wanting to create a ‘Socialist Man’ and those who objected to his emphasis on ideology rather than expertise, culminated in Mao launching Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1965 to counter his critics.
• Red Guards, mainly students and army, were used for a campaign against old culture, old customs and old habits.
• Cultural Revolution began a period of turmoil, weakened Party and severely disrupted economy and educational system.
• From late 1960s, tide began to turn. In 1975, Party once again emphasized greater social discipline and need to build an industrial economy so China could become a power before end of century.
Reforms from 1978
• Cultural Revolution was followed by a process of political manoeuvring. Deng Xiaoping kept party control strong while introducing a socialist market economy.
• In 1978, Party declared its goal as Four Modernisations [to develop science, industry, agriculture, defence]. debate was allowed as long as Party was not questioned.
• On 5 December 1978, a wall poster, ‘Fifth Modernisation’ proclaimed that without Democracy other modernisations would come to nothing.
• These demands were suppressed, but in 1989, on seventieth anniversary of May Fourth movement, many intellectuals known as for greater openness and an end to ossified dogmas [su shaozhi].
• post-reform period has seen emergence of debates on ways to develop China.
• dominant view supported by Party is based on strong political control, economic liberalisation and integration into world market.
Story of Taiwan
• Chiang Kai-shek, defeated by CCP fled in 1949 to Taiwan with over US$ 300 million in gold reserves and crates of priceless art treasures and established Republic of China.
• Taiwan had been a Japanese colony since Chinese ceded it after 1894–95 war with Japan.
• Massive demonstrations in February 1947 had led GMD to brutally kill a whole generation of leading figures.
• first free election began process of bringing local Taiwanese to power.
• China may be willing to tolerate a semi-autonomous Taiwan as long as it gives up any move to seek independence.
Story of Korea Beginnings of Modernisation
• During late 19th century, Korea’ Joseon Dynasty [1392–1910] faced internal political and social strife and increasing foreign pressure from China, Japan & West.
• After decades of political interference, imperial Japan annexed Korea as its colony in 1910, bringing over 500-year long Joseon Dynasty to its end.
• Wanting to be free from colonial rule, Koreans all over the country held protests, set up a temporary government, and sent delegations to international meetings like the Cairo, Yalta, and Potsdam conferences to talk to foreign leaders.
• Japanese colonial rule ended after 35 years in August 1945 with Japan’s defeat in World War II.
A Post-War Nation
• In June 1950, Korean War broke out. With South Korea receiving support from US-led United Nations forces and North Korea receiving support from communist China, it developed into a vintage proxy war of Cold War era.
• In July 1953, after three years, war ended in an armistice agreement. Korea remained divided.
• Though South Korea’s first president Syngman Rhee had been elected in 1948 through democratic process after Korean War, he extended his administration, twice through illegal constitutional amendments.
• With revolution as an impetus, spirit of people, which had been suppressed during Rhee administration, erupted in form of demonstrations and demands.
• In May 1961, Democratic Party government was overthrown in a military coup staged by General Park Chung-hee and other military authorities.
Rapid Industrialisation under Strong Leadership
• In October 1963, an election was held and military coup leader Park Chung-hee was elected president.
• Korea’s unprecedented rate of economic growth began in early 1960s when state policy shifted from import substitution industrialisation [ISI] towards a focus on exports.
• During late 1960s and 1970s, focus again shifted from light industries to value-added heavy and chemical industries.
• Steel, non-ferrous metals machinery, shipbuilding, electronics and chemical production were selected as most important industries in race for economic growth.
• In 1970, New Village [Saemaul] Movement was introduced to encourage and mobilise rural population and modernise agricultural sector.
• Korea achieved startling economic growth thanks to a combination of strong leaders, well-trained bureaucrats, aggressive industrialists and a capable labour force.
• At dawn of Korea’s industrialisation, almost all Korean workers were already literate and could easily acquire new skills.
• Foreign investment and Korea’s high domestic savings rate helped develop heavy industrial sector, while remittances from South Korean workers overseas contributed to overall economic development.
• Economic growth was foundation of Park administration’s long-term power.
• As president was invested with absolute authority, progress of democracy was temporarily suspended in pursuit of economic development.
Economic Growth and Calls for Democratisation
• After death of Park, in 1979, another military coup staged in leadership of Chun Doo-hwan.
• In May 1980, various protests in key cities around nation were held by students and citizens demanding democracy in face of Chun’s military faction.
• In city of Gwangju, in particular, students & citizens did not back down and demanded that martial law be ended. It is called Gwangju Democratisation Movement.
• Chun administration strengthened suppression of democratisation influences to stabilise regime.
• In May 1987, it became clear that Chun administration had done little to look into torture-related death of a university student. This led people to join a large-scale fight for democracy. Students and people from middle class joined next movement, called June Democracy movement. After this, Chun government was forced to change constitution and let people vote directly.
Korean Democracy and IMF Crisis
• In 1990, long-time opposition leader Kim Youngsam compromised with Roh’s party to create a large ruling party.
• With governmental support, Korean conglomerates invested in capital-intensive heavy and chemical industries, as well as, electronic industries, while government continued to focus on building industrial and social infrastructure.
• crisis was dealt with through emergency financial support provided by International Monetary Fund [IMF].
• In December 1997, long-time opposition party leader Kim Dae-Jung was elected president for first time in Korea, marking a peaceful transfer of power.
• In May 2017, Moon Jae-in was elected president, in a peaceful transfer of power for third time.
Two Roads to Modernisation
• Industrial societies far from becoming like each other have found their paths to becoming modern.
• histories of Japan and China, along with stories of Taiwan and Korea, show how different historical conditions led them on widely divergent paths to building independent and modern nations.
• Japan was successful in retaining its independence and using traditional skills and practices in new ways.
• Japan’s programme of modernisation was carried out in an environment dominated by Western imperial powers.
• Chinese path to modernisation was very different. Foreign imperialism, both Western and Japanese, combined with a hesitant and unsure Qing dynasty to weaken government control and set stage for a breakdown of political and social order leading to immense misery for most of people.
• nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw a rejection of traditions and a search for ways to build national unity and strength.
• success of Communist programme promised hope, but its repressive political system turned ideals of liberation and equality into slogans to manipulate people.