Compare and Contrast the attitudes of China and Japan to the reform and change during the period 1861 to 1894 By: Simon Fraser
Intro • China and Japan both went through reforms during the late 1800’s. The attitudes of both countries were pretty much the same towards the reforms and restorations. There were many similarities between the reforms however, they are clearly eclipsed by the differences in each. • The Reforms were made at roughly the same time which allow us to look at these reforms and reactions to the restorations with more accuracy
Similarities: Reason for Reform • Both China and Japan had realized that it was necessary to adopt western technology and policies in order to move forward and become the power houses of South East Asia. • Japan: “Use the barbarian to control the barbarian” • Both countries needed to reform after being opened up by the Western countries. Treaties of Nanjing and Kanagawa opened up both China and Japan.
More Similarities • Adoption of Western military techniques by both the Chinese and Japanese. • Adoption of Western style education. Both countries adopted Western curriculum and ideas • Adoption of Western industries in order to strengthen the economy and develop trade/industry. • Financial support accepted by both countries during the reforms, as well as enterprise (specialists from Western countries). • In both cases, the governments wanted to retain tradition
More Similarities • Both countries changed their taxation system and lowered their taxes. • Both countries also believed that the emperor should be the head of the country and that he should rule; however, Japan put more emphasis on this belief. • There was Western intervention in both countries, as well as a strong will to build up a stronger base army in their countries. • Both countries wanted to limit the amount of western influence in their countries • Conscription was introduced in both militaries
Contrasts • Japan fully embraced change. They looked to Western powers for ideas and allowed for many westerners to enter their country and advise the government. • China wanted to reinstate Confucianism • Japan also was able to learn from China’s mistakes as their restoration took place after China’s restoration • This included the fact that Japan was not encumbered by the Opium War that was going on in China. • Japan realized that by playing the Westerners game, they could overcome the onslaught of Western reform.
Contrasts • China still claimed to be independent which made restoration and reform a near impossible task. • Multiple Civil wars and rebellions within the Chinese provinces had already destroyed the heart of China leaving it open for failure. • The reforms were led by the government in Japan. They believed that a strong economy and military would lead to a successful nation. China’s government did not support economic growth. The leaders arrogance got the best of China and did not properly lead the country in the right direction.
Contrasts: Military / Economy • China carried out their reforms with many bloody battles. Japan on the other hand carried out their changes without bloodshed • Japan’s army was much more powerful and modernized than China’s army. We can see that Japan’s army had prevailed in Manchuria and during the Sino-Japanese war against the Chinese armies • China depended heavily on farmers and agriculture for finance. • Japan had a wide scale of merchants who were willing to invest in the military and buying weapons from overseas as well as infrastructure
Contrasts: Social / Political • Japan restored their emperor and decided to build a more central government around this structure. The government also had goals to fully modernize Japan before the end of the century. • China’s government was very unstable and corrupt. They were very selfish and did not make decisions to benefit China, but more for themselves. • Japan saw imperialism as a way to strengthen their countries. China did not see this • China’s reforms were limited to the scholar gentry. Japans reforms were nation wide which made a big difference
Conclusion • In some ways, both restorations were similar. Both countries saw it as a way to move forward as well as a way to reduce the amount of foreign authority in their countries. • Both of these restorations managed to preserve traditions and cultures but cut down against the social structures and made heavy changes to the military tree • Japan’s changes were at a much wider scale affecting the whole country which is possibly why it was made much more successful than China’s reforms. They also had less problems on their hands than China