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Q. 1. Briefly discuss Aggressive Nationalism, Westernisation and Tradition in Japan.
Ans. Aggressive Nationalism. The Meiji Constitution was based on limited franchise. There were limited rights of Diet (Parliament) created by the constitution. The leaders who brought imperial restoration remained in power and organised political parties. During 1918–1930, cabinets were formed by popularly elected prime minister. After that, they formed national cabinets across party lines.
The emperor was the commander of armed forces and from 1890 CE, it has been considered that the army and the navy had independent control. In 1899 CE, prime minister ordered that only serving generals and admirals could become ministers.
The strengthening of the military and the expansion of Japanese colonies were connected with the fear that Japan was dependent on the mercy of the western powers. This fear was used to collect funds for military expansion and taxes were imposed. Questions were raised against these taxes but they were suppressed.
Westernisation and Tradition.
The successive generations of Japanese intellectuals had different views about relations of Japan with other countries.
Some were of the view that USA and western European countries are at the top of civilisation. So Japan must aim to reach those heights. Fukuzama Yukichi was one of the important intellectual of Meiji times. He was of the view that Japan must expel Asia from itself. By this, he meant that Japan must leave its Asian features and should become a part of the west.
Next generation objected on completely adopting the western ideas and urged that national pride must be built on local values. The philosopher Miyake Setsurai (1860–1945) argued that every country must develop its specific features for world civilisation.
Devoting oneself to the country is just like devoting towards the world. On the other hand, many intellectuals were attracted towards western liberalism. They wanted that Japan must built itself on the basis of democracy, not on military.
Ueki Emori (1857–1892) was a leader of the popular Rights Movement which demanded a constitutional government. He was an admirer of French Revolution’s doctrine of natural right of man and popular sovereignty.
He was in favour of liberal education which could develop each individual. Some others even recommended voting rights of women.
This pressure forced the government to announce a constitution.
Q. 2. Describe the developments in Japan between the two World Wars.
Ans. The drive for expansion had been a characteristic feature of Japanese history since the beginning of her modernisation in the second half of the nineteenth century. She had made big colonial gains at the end of the First World War. The treaty she signed in Washington restricting the growth of her navy had still left her as the greatest naval power in the Pacific.
For a time, she pursued ‘peaceful’ ways of extending her domination over China as well as South-east Asia through economic means. However, the growth of the movement for China’s national unification as well as of the influence of the Chinese Communist Party created the danger that Japan would not be able to extend her control over China.
One of her major objectives was to prevent China’s national unification.
Occupation of Manchuria and Invasion of China. One of the first major acts of aggression after the First World War was committed by Japan when she occupied Manchuria and later set up a puppet government there.
After consolidating her conquest of Manchuria she launched a massive invasion on China. Within a few months, large parts of northern China, including the cities of Beijing, Nanking and Shanghai, were occupied by the Japanese troops. The Japanese bombed the Chinese cities which had no military significance, and committed atrocities on the Chinese population.
In 1938 they proclaimed what they called a ‘‘New Order in East Asia’’ which would bring Japan, China and Manchuria into a political union. The League of Nations condemned the Japanese aggression but nothing was done to put an end to it.
In 1936 CE, she had signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Germany. She planned to establish her hegemony all over Asia and the Pacific, as Germany along with Italy planned doing it over the rest of the world.
Economic Progress. The Japanese economy continued to grow after the war and she became the biggest exporter of cotton textiles, rayon and raw silk.
Her dependence on other countries for raw materials, machinery and food stuffs had made the economy somewhat fragile.
To overcome some of these problems, there was a lot of expansion of iron and steel and heavy engineering industries. But direct control over the resources and markets of China and other countries was considered essential by Japanese industrialists and political and military leaders.
Q. 3. Describe the imperialistic expansion of Japan before the First World War.
Ans. The emergence of Japan as the only imperialist power in Asia began in the last decade of the nineteenth century.
In the beginning, the Western countries failed to establish their foothold in Japan. In 1853, the American warships under Commodore Perry, had compelled the Japanese Government to open their country to American shipping and trade. Britain, France, Holland and Russia also got similar concessions. In 1867, there was a change in government of Japan known as Meiji Restoration.
Thereafter, Japan made considerable industrial progress. Like the imperialist powers of the West, Japan also wanted to expand in order to get raw material for her industries and new markets to sell her manufactured goods.
In the last decade of the nineteenth century, Japan embarked upon her imperialist designs. In 1874 CE, Japan annexed Ryuku islands and forced Korea, a tributary of China, to open her doors to Japanese trade.
This was resented by China and a war followed in which China was defeated. China ceceded Formosa and the Liaotung Peninsula to Japan in addition to paying a heavy war indemnity. China was forced to give up her claim on Korea.
Thus, Japan’s influence in China increased.
England and Japan entered into an agreement in 1902 CE, which is known as the Anglo-Japanese Agreement. Japan declared war and defeated Russia in 1904–05. As a result of this war, Japan got the southern half of Sakhalin and gained control of the southern part of the Liaotung Peninsula with Port Arthur, which was leased to her.
In 1910 CE, Korea became a colony of Japan. It became a province of Japan. Thus by the year 1914 CE, when the First World War began, Japan emerged as a great imperialist power of the east. By this time almost all of Asia was swallowed up by the imperialist countries.
Q. 4. What is meant by Meiji Restoration ? What were its consequences on the future development of Japan ?
Ans. For centuries Shoguns exercised real power in Japan. But in 1869, the rule of shoguns was overthrown and Japan saw emergence of new rulers and advisers. They ruled in the name of the Japanese emperor. In this way, the emperor’s authority was restored. He took the title of ‘Meiji’. In the history of Japan, this event is known as the ‘Meiji’ Restoration’.
Consequences. Meiji restoration had a great impact on future development of Japan, which is as under :
1. Industrial Growth. During the Meiji period, Japan prospered industrially. The government made heavy investment in industrial sector. Subsequently these industries were sold to capitalists. Afterwards, government’s support in starting industries was no longer needed. The impoverishment of the peasants also benefited industries. An increasing number of peasants migrated to the cities where they provided cheap labour for the industries.
By the early years of the twentieth century, Japan became a great industrial power. Japanese goods could successfully compete in the international market with European goods.
2. New Constitution. Japan got a new Constitution in 1889 CE. Its salient features were as under:
(1) The emperor enjoyed a special position as the head of the state. All ministers were appointed by him and were answerable to him. He was believed to be ‘heaven descended, divine and sacred’. He was considered pre-eminent above his subjects and was revered.
(2) The constitution provided for a parliament called the ‘Diet’. The Diet enjoyed limited powers and was under military control.
(3) Police enjoyed extensive powers. It could check any activities opposed to monarchy.
3. Colonial Expansion. By the 1890s, Japan had started pursually her colonial ambitions. She went to war with China in 1895 CE, defeated her and annexed Formosa. In 1905, Korea was made a portectorate of Japan and annexed by her five years later.
In this way, Japan emerged as a great power after Meiji Restoration. In 1899, Japan’s status as a great power was recognised by the US and European countries. Some countries entered into treaties with Japan on terms of equality.
Q. 5. Describe Japan’s progress as a world power from the last decade of 19th century till the end of First World War.
Ans. Japan was the alone imperialist power of Asia. It started its imperialist expansion in the last decade of 19th century. Earlier, it saved itself from becoming the victim of imperialism. In 1853 CE, Commodare Perry, with its military ships, reached the coast of Japan.
Perry used the force and compelled the Japan to give certain facilities of trade and others to the U.S.A. Japan also signed treaties with Britain, Holland, France and Russia. Even then it saved itself from the bad experiences of other Asian countries.
Japan became Powerful. In 1867 CE, an important power transformation took place in Japan which is known as Meiji restoration. Japan made huge progress under Meiji rule. It started to modernise its economy and within few decades, it became one of the major industrial country of the world. Except this, those powers were also active in Japan which made the European countries imperialist. Like western countries, Japan also had very less raw material for its industries.
It wanted to have new markets for the consumption of new products. As a result, it wanted to have colonies which could fulfill both of its demands.
In this way Japan joined the race of imperialism.
Imperialist Expansion. Imperialist expansion of Japan is given below:
(i) Japan was situated near to China and China could have been proved a better market for it. Both the countries also had fought against each other in 1894 CE on the issue of Korea. After this, Japanese influence increased a lot in China.
(ii) Anglo-Japanese treaty was signed in 1902 CE.
According to this, Japan was also given the equal status like other European countries.
(iii) Japan defeated Russia in 1905 CE. As a result, it received southern part of Skhalin. It also captured Leontung island.
(iv) Korea become Japanese Colony in 1910 CE.
In this way till First World War, Japan also emerged as a world power. It could have expanded further in China if it could not have been checked by the Western powers.