Essay: East Asia

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East Asia

Shaping the Course of East Asian Culture Since the 1860's

The 19th century brought about a great deal of challenge and impending changes for East Asia. Powers were escalating in the west, and the Japanese and Chinese governments were compelled to open exchange to foreign countries.

The presence of the foreigners that entered much of Japan and China is said to have not been short lived, according to historians, particularly near the end of the century. While other Asian societies were purportedly not as successful, both China and Japan were said to be able to maintain their national identity and independence against the influence and onslaught of the West in many areas but there were other areas in which there was acquisition and adoption of some westernized ways.

For example, Japan is said to have adopted customs, spoils of war ideology, and institutions historically known to the west.

Whereas with China, there was not as much success and it reportedly served to subterfuge the Qing dynasty foundations and summarily end it.

By the 1870's, the dynasty that had been in place began to disintegrate internally and because of the weakened state the nation was in, there was a look to Westernized technology to work commensurate with the institutions and principles of Confucianism.

"East for Essence, West for Practical Use" was considered the leading standard for domestic and foreign Chinese policy for approximately 25 years. Great Britain was also purportedly looked to for reform considerations in China.

The real strength of England…lies in the fact that there is a sympathetic understanding between the governing and the governed, a close relationship between the ruler and the people… My observation is that the daily domestic political life of England actually embodies the traditional ideals of our ancient

Golden Age" (Wang Tao as quoted in Duiker and Spielvogel 2011).

Many were not as amenable to the reforms that were posited, and the counterargument was posited by such individuals as Zhang Zhidong quoted in Duiker and Spielvogel (2011) who asserted,

The doctrine of people's rights will bring us not a single benefit but a hundred evils. Are we going to establish a parliament?... Even supposing the confused and clamorous people are assembled in one house, for every one of them who is clear-sighted, there will be a hundred others whose vision is beclouded; they will converse at random and talk as if in a dream-what use will it be? (p. 6).

The defeat of the Opium War at the hand of the British led to greater penetration by the British in China. Another reform effort at the end of the 19th century and a push by the United States for an Open Door policy was determined assistive but failed to squelch the internal Boxer Rebellion who acted out a response to intense unemployment and the damaging effects of a devastating drought.

The Old Order is said to have summarily collapsed and the West penetrated China in even more significant ways. Western technology and methods of manufacturing were adopted by the Chinese and many additional western methods were adopted particularly in the manufacturing of weapons and ship building.

The invocation of the Imperialist era in the latter half of the 19th century is said to have created significant discrepancies in the local economy that propelled significant changes in the century to come. According to many, the presence of the West served to expedite China's economic development and many felt that because the West was considered to be one of the most advanced societies, China would significantly benefit.

The roles of women changed as they began to seek employment outside of the home and there was greater access to education for women as well. There was also a breaking down of the isolated nature Japan had been in for many centuries. In the early 1900's, foreigners began to approach Japan about opening its doors and the United States was the first considered successful in this endeavor.

This was not a completely popular decision and there was much internal conflict regarding opening the doors to foreigners. But there was infiltration by the Americans that would change the face of Japan forever.

There were several significant wars that impacted East Asia and the culture. In 1931, the Japanese invaded Manchuria considered a part of Chinese territory.

During the same time period, China was considered to be still in a state of disorganization and moving deeper into an impoverished state. In order to derive national unification, Marxism was adopted in the early 1900's. The early 1900's also saw a significant benefit to the Japanese from World War I that is said to have removed much of western industry and eliminated a significant competitor. But again, there was significant reaction to all of the war and fighting. This contestation, however, was posited by academicians, students, and others considered to be liberal minded.

Japan was affected by the Great Depression in 1930 after its start in the United States a year earlier. Japan's economy was devastated with exports being reduced, wages falling, unemployment soaring and great individual suffering.

The Cold War in the 1940's also left an indelible impression on East Asia. World War II's end turned the attention of the world to the possibilities for renewal in China. There were reactions to the spread of communism by then American President Truman. Accusations of betrayal were wide spread and by the 1950's the U.S. was willing to do whatever was necessary to squelch communisms expansion.

World War II was considered the deadliest conflict in history. Stakeholders committed all of their scientific, industrial, and economic capabilities to the war effort that served the blur or totally eliminate the lines between the resources designated for the military and those left for the civilians. Some consider this war to have been the "deadliest conflict in human history" because of the estimated 70 million deaths that occurred as a result.

What reportedly began as a conflict between Poland and Germany in September 1939 ended with Germany's unequivocal surrender in 1945 and the defeat of the Japanese Navy by the United States; with Japan surrendering a few months later. 1950 saw the end of the Korean War and 1955 saw the institution of socialism. With this came the collectivization of private farmlands and the nationalization of industries and businesses.

Kokutai, the "official ideology of the war reportedly became emerged with an uprise in anti-modernism and anti-Westernism.

This ideology reportedly purported that social unrest, communism, and socialism were a result of the influence of individualism that represented Western ideology. "When people determinedly count themselves as masters and assert their egos, there is nothing but contradictions and the setting of one against the other."

which was in stark contrast to the Japanese way of life. There are some scholars who argue there was blind allegiance to the Empire, while others like Ben-Ami Shillony who posit that there were sectors within Japanese society that were not slaves to wartime ideology, and the society was not completely politicized. "Social, communal and occupational loyalties continued to exist independently of the state, and no mass party could abolish them" (16).

Regardless of whether there was blind allegiance or sectors if independence, change was assuredly underfoot for the citizens of Japan. A new constitution emerged as a result of the Allied Occupation of Japan that promised popular basic human rights and sovereignty and not those based on Imperialism (McNelly 1987). Additionally, because there were suspicions of military and big business complicity, an economic program of reform was instituted with a goal of decentralization with regard to institutional power, and the implementation of land and labor reforms as the foundation for established democratic political order (Yamamura 1967).

The late 1960's and 70's saw the 'Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which is said to have lasted approximately 10 years, and once again, there was unrest with yet another revolution. But the death of Mao in 1976 saw the end to this movement. The late 1980's are said to have introduced an economy that was overheated that led to significant unrest culminating in Tiananmen Square were students' protested the political and economic conditions of their country. The 1990's saw government extending greater supporter and making consumer goods more readily available.

By 1993, the Liberal Democrats who were ruling at the time were said to have been disturbed by the amount and prevalence of corruption that was transpiring. Reforms continued to be promised that were unsuccessful.

Conclusion

What has been learned through the process of systematically reviewing the cultural transition in East Asia is that the country has been and continues to be in a state of transition. There have been a number of internal battles and wars fought with external forces that have forged the process of transition through much chaos and bloodshed. There have been times of economic upswings and downturns that have impacted the culture as well. Urban swell affected the countryside. Droughts, famine, and war impacted everything from the rate of employment to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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East Asia.  (2011, December 18).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/east-asia-shaping-course/7341958

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"East Asia."  Essaytown.com.  December 18, 2011.  Accessed July 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/east-asia-shaping-course/7341958.