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The history people and nature of japan

During the Yayoi period ca. The basic genetic stock of the population and the fundamental patterns of the language were established during that period. Japan came to the attention of China in the fourth century. During the Yamato period 300 C. In 552, emissaries from the Korean kingdom of Paekche established contact with the Yamato rulers. They introduced Buddhism and thus brought Japan into systematic contact with Chinese civilization. Almost every aspect of Japanese life—agricultural technology, written language, philosophy, architecture, poetry, medicine, and law—was transformed.

The Yamato state adopted the conventions of the Chinese imperial court and tried to model society along the lines of Chinese civilization.

The Tale of Genji, the world's first novel, epitomizes the culture of the Heian period. By the end of the Heian period, economic, social, and military power had shifted to provincial landholders and warriors. Several successive hereditary dynasties occupied this position until 1868. The medieval period ended in a century of civil war lasting from the late fifteenth to the late sixteenth century.

Contacts with the West began in the mid-sixteenth century with the arrival of the Portuguese Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier. The introduction of Western weaponry hastened the consolidation of power among a few increasingly dominant warlords who unified the country and ended the civil war. In 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu decisively defeated most of the remaining opponents, and established a dynasty that lasted until 1868. For over 260 years, Japan experienced political stability, peace, and rising prosperity.

The Tokugawa regime ruled through a complicated network of alliances with approximately 250 regional lords, some closely allied to the Tokugawa and others in opposition but permanently subdued. Each fief retained its own castle town, and as a political strategy, some fiefs maintained a high degree of economic, social, and cultural autonomy.

During the Tokugawa period, culture and society became codified and somewhat uniform across the country. Patterns established during this period shaped, propelled, and constrained the country's modernization after 1868. The history people and nature of japan the 1630s, the Tokugawa regime had ruthlessly suppressed Christian communities and broken off most ties with European nations. It disarmed the peasantry and imposed rigid household registration requirements to keep the population spatially and socially immobile.

Traffic along the great highways was scrutinized at heavily guarded checkpoints. Trade was controlled through feudal guilds, and detailed sumptuary regulations governed the lives of all social classes. These social policies reflected the ideology of neo-Confucianism, which valued social stability and the social morality of ascribed status. Tokugawa social structure was organized around principles of hierarchy, centralized authority, and collective responsibility.

Individuals were expected to subordinate themselves to the specific obligations of their ascribed social roles, and virtue consisted of perfecting one's ability to fit the requirements of one's role. In the upper reaches of society, the kinship system upheld neo-Confucian ideals of the family as a microcosm of the social order.

Neo-Confucianism also established a rigid system of ranked social classes: Status reflected ideals of social utility, not wealth. Beyond those four hereditary official classes, Tokugawa society included a tiny stratum of imperial nobility, a large clerical establishment, and a population of outcastes.

The History and Nature of Shintō

Urban economic power increased over the agrarian sectors. This undermined Tokugawa political power, which depended on the control of agricultural land and taxes. In the cities, bourgeois culture flourished: Only about 15 percent of Japan is level enough for agriculture. Japanese cities equaled or surpassed their European counterparts in infrastructure and public amenities, but Japanese urbanites lacked a political voice commensurate with their economic and cultural capital.

Tokugawa social patterns and institutions laid the foundations for modernization.

  • Cultural Nationalism in East Asia, 1993;
  • The government sent delegations to study legal institutions, commerce and industry, science and technology, military affairs, architecture, arts, and medicine in Europe and North America;
  • The most notable physical feature is the Fossa Magna, a great rift lowland that traverses the widest portion of Honshu from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific.

The urban merchant classes stimulated the development of sophisticated national economic institutions and the beginning of industrial production. Literacy and computational ability were widespread among samurai, merchants, and the upper levels of the peasantry. The samurai became a hereditary class of bureaucrats whose qualifications for leadership depended on education.

Society was characterized by discipline and regulation. The Tokugawa dynasty surrendered its authority to the imperial court in 1868 after a long struggle. The political crisis included major internal economic problems and the unexpected confrontation with the Western powers precipitated by the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and a squadron of American warships in 1853.

Opponents of the Tokugawa demanded that it take a firm stand against foreign intrusions and then overthrew the regime. The result was a largely peaceful coup known as the Meiji Restoration, which marked the beginning of the nation's modernization. The Meiji regime reconnected imperial rule with civil political authority and military power.

Under the nominal leadership of Emperor Meiji, the imperial government was run by the young samurai who had defeated the Tokugawa dynasty.

They were fiercely nationalistic and attempted to bring Japanese society into parity with European and North American powers.

Although they had come to power under the slogan "Revere the Emperor; Expel the Barbarians," the Meiji leaders built a strong state and society along the lines of an industrial European country. Meiji leaders balanced Western powers again each other to avoid domination by any single patron.

The government sent delegations to study legal institutions, commerce and industry, science and technology, military affairs, architecture, arts, and medicine in Europe and North America. Foreign experts were hired, and young Japanese were sent to study at Western universities.

The new slogan was "Eastern values; Western science. The Meiji grafted the trappings of contemporary Western monarchies onto the sacred imperial institution, creating a court nobility that resembled European aristocracies. Samurai ranks were abolished in 1872. The centrality of the state was strengthened by a new national educational system, and a growing military.

Treaties signed by the Tokugawa regime had created zones where Western citizens lived independently of Japanese laws.

These "treaty ports" were important sources of Western influence, and many schools, hospitals, and other institutions created by foreign missionaries became prominent. The system of extraterritoriality, however, was considered degrading, and the government tried to transform social life and culture in ways that would command the respect of the Western powers. Japan rapidly built a Western-style navy and army and attempted to expand its influence in East Asia.


In 1910, Japan annexed Korea. By the 1920s, Japan considered itself a world military power. This military might was made possible by industrialization after the 1870s. The state built industries such as shipyards, iron smelters, and spinning mills and sold them to well-connected entrepreneurs.

Domestic companies became consumers of Western technology and applied it to the production of goods that could be sold cheaply on the world market. Industrialization was accompanied by the development of a national railway system and modern communications.

In addition to state-sponsored innovations such as uniform national education and the creation of a single national dialect, popular interest in Western life increased throughout the Meiji period, starting at elite levels and eventually extending to almost all social groups, especially in the largest cities. Not all social changes were modeled on the West, however. Many aspects of tradition and history were codified. Nation building and industrialization were complete by the the history people and nature of japan twentieth century.

Mass media and popular culture developed in parallel to the Jazz Age in the West. Political democracy was encouraged; and leftist groups agitated for political freedom and workers' rights. The military assumed a larger role in politics, and conservative forces made international "respect," military expansion, and the sanctity of imperial institutions the cornerstones of public life.

Throughout the 1930s, military and colonial adventures in The history people and nature of japan and elsewhere in China led to open war, and society became increasingly militarized. The war in China grew more intense, and international condemnation of Japanese atrocities poisoned relations with the Western nations. Japan joined with Italy and Germany in the Axis because its military planners saw the United States and its interests in Asia as inimical.

Diplomatic relations with the Western powers grew worse, and on 7 December 1941, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. Japan almost simultaneously attacked all the major territories claimed by Western colonial powers, including American possessions such as Hawaii and the Philippines.

In the first year and a half of the Pacific War, Japanese forces were on the offensive, but by 1944, Allied forces were recapturing the Western Pacific. Allied naval victories destroyed Japan's fleets and shipping, and bombing raids began in 1944.

They destroyed most of the domestic infrastructure and took an enormous toll on civilians. Anticipating that an invasion of Japan would be a bloodbath, American military planners proceeded with the development of the atomic bomb. Japanese weddings are elaborately staged and usually held in banquet halls or hotels. On 15 August 1945, the Emperor announced that his government had capitulated. From 1945 until 1952, Japan was occupied by Allied troops under the command of U.

The early postwar years were a time of massive rebuilding. Millions of people were homeless, and millions more were repatriated from the former colonies.

The economy was shattered, and mass starvation was a threat. Disillusionment with the cultural and social frameworks of prewar and wartime life was widespread.

The Occupation launched social and cultural reforms, including a democratic constitution and political system, universal adult suffrage, the emperor's renunciation of divinity and separation of religion from state control, agricultural land reform, the dismantling of major economic and industrial combines, the expansion of education, language reform, and expanded civil liberties.

By the mid-1950s, the initial reconstruction of society and economy had largely been accomplished, and the government had built a conservative consensus that the national priorities were economic growth and social stability, which would be achieved through the close cooperation of business and a government directed by bureaucratic elites.

After the late 1950s, this "developmental state" created the social, economic, and political contexts in which ordinary people could experience middle-class urban lifestyles. The characteristics of postwar urban middle-class life included small nuclear families in which mothers focused on their children's education and from which fathers were largely absent because of their occupational obligations.

The typical white-collar urban family was secure in the knowledge that lifetime employment was the norm. In the 1960s and 1970s, success in the domestic economy began to be felt around the world as consumer products from Japan began to dominate overseas markets.

Economic growth was politically unassailable, but the costs in terms of pollution, declines in the agricultural sector, and massive urban growth without adequate infrastructure were enormous. Grassroots movements developed to combat problems spawned by the developmental ethos; those movements were limited in their effectiveness.

The history people and nature of japan the 1970s and 1980s, Japan experienced unprecedented prosperity. Riding massive trade surpluses and producing top-quality products, the economy was regarded as a model for other industrial and postindustrial societies.