Regents Prep: Global History: Imperialism:
Japan
Meiji Restoration
ICommodore Matthew Perryn 1853, the U.S. sent a fleet of ships under the command of Commodore Mathew Perry to Japan in order to end the nationís self-imposed isolation and open it to trade. Soon, the Britain, Russia, and Holland negotiated similar treaties.

The intrusion of the West would become a turning point for feudal Japan. The Tokugawa shogunate was criticized and ultimately overthrown for allowing western nations into Japan. In 1868, Emperor Mutsushito was restored to the throne. He decided that in order to withstand the imperialistic might of the West, Japan would need to adopt western ways. This movement would be known as the Meiji Restoration.

Japanese scholars were sent abroad to learn as much as possible about the West. Feudalism was abandoned in Japan in favor of a written constitution and the establishment of modern mechanized armed forces. Western technology was adopted which allowed the Japanese to fully industrialize in less than 50 years. By the end of the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese no longer feared that they would be imperialized. Rather, they set out to practice imperialism themselves.

Japan's Empire
In 1894-95 the Japanese engaged the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese War as they sought natural resources and trading rights on mainland Asia. These motives also brought them into conflict with Russia in the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. Japan achieved victory in both conflicts, andEuropeans in Japan during the Meiji Restoration surprised the world in doing so. The destruction of the Russian Navy by the Japanese marked the first time an Asian nation had defeated one from Europe.

With the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth, Japan earned the following:

  1. Chinese port city trading rights;
  2. Control of Manchuria in China;
  3. Korea became its protectorate;
  4. Annexation of the island of Sakhalin

Japan was quickly emerging as a world-class power using western technology and methods while still maintaining its traditional cultural values.

Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
During the early 1900s, Japan practiced imperialism throughout Asia. A campaign to rid Asia of European imperialism was waged in which Japan occupied nations once held by the French, British, and the Dutch. Native leaders were installed as part of puppet governments that were manipulated by the Japanese.

By 1940, Japan announced that it would form a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere which encouraged Asian nations to resist western imperialists in order to contribute to the industrial needs of the Japanese war machine. In fact, Japan was practicing its own form of imperialism by dominating its Asian neighbors.

Post-War Success
Japan's imperialistic ambitions soon brought the nation into conflict with the United States in WWII. After losing WWII, Japan was occupied by the United States during which time democratic reforms were instituted. The emperor was forced to renounce his divinity and the Japanese armed forces were disbanded. A parliamentary democracy was established and the United States provided economic aid to rebuild infrastructure.

Soon, Japan demonstrated its economic prowess without taking advantage of its Asian neighbors through imperialism. By the 1980s Japan was being compared to the United States and West Germany as one of the great economic powers of the world.

 

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