Critical Analysis Modernization and Westernization of Japan B y Conner Bardine and DaraMuffie
Why Westernize? • Japan had many reasons to give in to western ways. After being cut off from the world for so long, Japan was horribly behind economically, socially, militarily, etc. Japan had to show itself to the world in order to catch up. • This time period was called the meiji restoration. It was when Japan became modern.
Why Westernize? Continued… • Japan also knew China was once under the same circumstances. Instead of opening itself, it fought western ways. The futuristic west would inevitably win. China, by fighting back, lost all its power to the west. They were mistreated and taken advantage of. By working with the west and not against, Japan made many valuable relationships.
Why Westernize? Continued… • The event that opened Japan to the world was when Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1853 brought an army fleet to Japan. Japan, being closed off to the world for so long never saw these battleships before, or anything close to them. They were completely in aw and immediately felt no choice but to westernize. There was no fighting these god-like machines.
Strives to Educate Japan • Japan made an effort to start educating samurai, official representatives, and students. • This was to keep up with the growing western influence. • This education gave Japan the ability to gain an understanding of westerners and all that they entail. • Students now had the possibility to learn abroad and learn about things that were not taught presently in Japan., specifically economics and technology.
The Depiction of Samurai and Japan’s Modernization in the Movie “The Last Samurai” • “The Last Samurai” did not accurately portray the role of samurai in Japan’s modernization. • This movie portrayed samurai like they were years behind everyone else in Japan, and everyone else in the world. • This was simply not true. • Although some were against the new modern ways of Japan, some samurai used this as a means of educating themselves. • They became scholars in many subjects.
Consultants to Japan • Japan brought ideas from Germany and the United States because they admired the strength and skill of their militaries. • Japan also hired many French advisors for other means. • It took Japan until 1918 to trust foreign advisors. This trust was formed by French Commadant Jacques-Paul.
America’s Influence with Japan’s Military • America had a huge influence with Japan’s military. • As previously stated, Japan already wanted American advisors for their military because they respected America’s strength. • America was the most modern military in the world. • Japan felt it needed America’s help because they were so far behind the rest of the world.
Portrayal of Weapons • “The Last Samurai” depicts the Japanese during the year of 1876 as completely shocked and ignorant of western weapons. • This is not accurate. At this time, the war was already going on for 20 years and the samurai had ample time to become very familiar with western weapons, even if they chose not to use them. Japan already had a widely modernized army at this time.
Okubo Toshimichi • In “The Last Samurai”, there was a character named Omura, a industrialist and politician, who was loosely related to real-life Okubo Toshimichi. • The statesman Okubo Toshimichi was a Meiji reformer who also happened to be a samurai. • Many Samurai considered him a traitor. • The samurai eventually assassinated him for his betrayal.
Modernization's Toll on Samurai • During the Meiji restoration, the samurai were perhaps one of the most affected. • Japan was trying to get rid of the samurai. • They thought they were outdated. • The samurai no longer held any material use. • Many samurai had three choices. • Switch occupations • Be killed for their ways • Kill themselves out of respect to leave with some shred of honor. (This was called Seppuku.)
Modernization's Toll on Samurai Continued… • The samurai who chose to stay alive and change their ways had to deal with a loss of power and money. They also lost their standing in the old caste system. • The samurai were now disrespected. Their weapons were taken away and their hair was cut off. These were symbols of the samurai’s soul and class respectively. • But, on a better note, many of the samurai who lived became scholars or other high ranking citizens.
In the Service of the Emperor • The samurai may have been fighting the samurai’s army, but they thought they were doing it in the service of the emperor. Previously in Japan’s history, the samurai had a deep alliance and worked with the emperor to take down the shogun, Japans military leader. Because of this, they still felt they were under the emperor’s service. • Also, many samurai believed in fighting the emperor’s westernized army, they were fighting off the evil the west brought with them from getting to the emperor.
In the End… • In the end, Japan’s ability to modernized, westernize, and adapt saved it from being carved up like China was. It gave the west and Japan room for compromise. It can be concluded that Japan’s ability to adapt saved it and made it the high ranking power it is to this day.