The Meiji Period: The Westernization Of Japan

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During the Meiji Period, Japan made a radical shift from its previous national paradigm, It transformed from an eastern influenced society to a western one. In copying the American and European cultures, the Japanese were not accepting defeat by submitting to the cultural conquerors, but evolving and adapting in order survive and grow as a nation. The act of westernization was an attempt to make Japan equal with western powers, placing them diplomatically equal, in order to prevent colonization or annexation. The Meiji Westernization was a means to an anti-western end, meaning that the act of Japanese westernization was not to adhere to what The West thought was best, but what Japan thought it should do in order to secure its place as a world…show more content…
The West had colonies that stretched the globe, The West had rapidly changing societies that outpaced others in both technology and humanitarian efforts. Japan saw that it was not because The West was inherently superior than the East, it was simply the differing outlook of that allowed them to see weakness, to adapt and grow. The reason The West was able to grow so much so quickly was because Europe was highly competitive in nature, there were wars of killing, of technology, of trade. The fully competitive Europe pushed itself to surpass the idle countries that let advancement happen on its own. Once Japan had unified and cut itself off from the rest of the world, it no longer had a reason to constantly improve itself like France, Germany, or Britain. In its own hubris, Japan sabotaged itself right before one of the biggest technology booms of modern history, leading to it falling behind on the world stage. Through its competition The West proved its innovations were objectively superior for conquering the world. Japan realized this and chose to alter its own society out of necessity and desire. “While the (Meiji) government was not a supporter of liberal democracy, it was keen to introduce western ideas and institutions,” It was conscious choice, they were able to keep the emperor as well as westernize, rather that switching to a democracy or republic.…show more content…
Through isolation japan stagnated itself, and the quickest way to renter the forefront of the world stage was to imitate the western powers. The act of westernization was not Japan’s failure to innovate but to accept its own weaknesses and learn from its mistakes. In adopting western ideas Japan made them its own in order to preserve its identity, as well letting go of the past in order to advance as a nation. The westernization during the Meiji period was more pro-Japan than anti-western. However the argument could be made that if you are not with Japan you are against Japan, which would lead to events such as Russo-Japanese War, along with pacific theater of the second world war, which were very much anti western. In the end, the goal was to improve Japan by any means necessary, even if they were western

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