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Modernization Impact on Japaness Economy

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Abstract

Concept of modernization after Second World War has been changing over time. Initially, the term modernization means social and economic transformation of any primitive society with the industrial development. The study “Modernization Impact on Japanese Economy” deals with the social and economic changes that Japan developed. Also, the study focuses on the influence of Japanese culture and tradition in its modernization.

The study intends to analyze how the Japanese society developed its economy after the damage of the war. The nation developed its education system, service system, job market and created opportunities for the people without infringing its culture, which is the strength. Frequently, the modernization process of the nation is often interpreted as globalization, which is somewhat true in case of Japan. The country experienced the high economic growth after 1960’s.

Culture is usually defined as a way of living. The group of people in one culture shares their history, language, religion, food, social habits, music, values and arts. In the same context, modernization is when a culture influenced by the Western living style. The study also highlights the several cultural forces and values that have affected Japan and its economy.

Introduction

The Meiji Era also referred to as the period of Meiji is an era in Japan, which started in the month of September, 1968, and ended in July, 1912. This era represents Japanese Empire’s first half in which Japanese Society shifted from feudalism, which is isolated, to being modern. Owing to this, there were various fundamental changes, which had an effect on its internal politics, social structures, military, foreign relations, and economy. 

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During the period of Meiji (1868-1912), rapid modernization was witnessed in Japan. This modernization occurred in the area of political, economic as well as social institution. When this period was half-way (1868-1890), numerous reforms were instituted by Meiji oligarchs and this was with the aim of achieving industrial promotion, domestic stability, improvement of education, as well as establishment of government structures, which were effective. Among the reforms in government structure is constitution promulgation in 1890. This system of governance ensured that all Japanese enjoyed a sense of culture as well as cultural background. In fact, the cultural as well as economic background of Japanese people was established during this period.

With Meiji system of government, the people of Japan were provided with cultural as well as cultural backgrounds which were common. Due to this, there was Japan transition into an economic power in the word as well as being a nation, which was modern. Separately, the Japanese were provided with a culture that was shared. In addition, there was creation of an environment that allowed for socialization process. This was provided by the system of alternate attendance (Sankin-k%u014Dtai). The hierarchy structure of Tokugawa emperor as well as the classes of artists, samurai, merchants and peasants was applicable for everybody in Japan’s four islands.

Although, the structure was faced with tension, Japanese were more than willing to serve their leader who had the title of an emperor. There was provision of social stability by this structure of governance. This form of rule existed for over two centuries. Due to discipline as well as respect for the authority that characterized Japanese culture, the period of Meiji witnessed rapid reformation. Consequently, there was smooth transition of Japan. The only challenge that this period was faced with was the samurai revolution.

Every single society across the world has evolved, and notable changes can be seen in regard to its practices centuries ago and today. Societies adopted the new ways of modernism and disregarded their old ways that were deemed primitive. The western nations were the first countries to undergo modern civilization, and they in turn influenced other nations such as Japan, into modernism. Owing to westernization influence, Japan has had to modernize its legal systems, industry and industrial practices, technology, religion, education system, art and cultural practices as well as politics. Japan had to change its various systems to so that they could conform to modern ways of doing business. During the era of Meiji restoration, Japan emerged as a strong supporter of modernization. The country was open to accepting modern practices from western nations. Foreign influence was common in Japan as the country had adopted various practices from their very influential neighbors of China.

Western Power Influence

The modernization of Japan took root following its encounter with western powers in 19th century. Various actors were involved in industrialization of Japan and they include the government, communities, businesses, individuals. This was in response to shock emanating from west. Up to date, influences as well as global pressures are the driving force for developing countries to improve. For any development to occur various factors among them local play a great role.

Both internal as well as external forces determine the process of development. Integration of systems that were foreign into Japan’s culture interfered with it, but, on the other hand, helped the country in its development agenda. Historically, Japan has undergone periods of great turmoil as well as changes that are nternal. External forces such as education have been of great influence as the country underwent transition. These changes altered the Japanese society to become multi-laid. There were various external factors that influenced Japan in its development and included the following.

Western influence entails emulating or assuming the way of life including culture of nations of the west, which include the US. Many nations across the world have fallen prey of the influence of the customs and cultures of the western nations. Western nations have a highly strong influence on other states including Japan. Westernization, therefore, means the process by which nations assimilate or adapt the ways of doing things of the western nations. These things include cultures, lifestyles, religion, language, beliefs, customs, habits and character. Societies that undergo westernization abandon their traditional practices and adapt the western ways that are usually deemed superior. Westernization saw the development of the industrial revolution in Japan. The western powers entered Japan in the late 19th century and influenced industrial development in the country. As the Japanese interacted with the westerners, they learned the western practices, which they assimilated into their lives with time. Some of the fields that are evidence of westernization in Japan include the following:

Modernization and Culture

Today, the culture as well as the environment of Japanese people is the most unique in the world. Japanese have preserved their culture unlike many nations in the world. Before 1960s, Japan promoted a culture, which discriminated women from getting educated this however ended in 1960s where education was made universal. There was however many schools for commoner children as well as samurai prior to 1960 when samurai was abolished and education made universal for everybody. The Japanese culture was more than willing to embrace the new way of doing things and that what has helped Japan to be a super power today. Domestic societies form the base in which systems that are new and borrowed from foreign powers are introduced.

There is uniqueness in each society when it comes to culture. This is determined by history as well as natural science. Influence of foreign power on society is clear. There is change in culture as the society embraces the foreign systems. The introduction of rice cultivation in Japan was by influence of Eurasia. The culture of Buddhism found its way to Japan from China. From Europe came Christianity as well as gun use. Around 19th century, Japan started becoming developed and borrowed much from the west.

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During the process of identifying itself, Japan was able to retain much of its culture unlike many nations. There is harmony of the old as well as new cultures brought in Japan. The people of Japan were able to absorb so many conflicting elements in the path of its development. Unlike other societies, such a move is only unique among the Japanese. The culture of generosity, being programmatic as well as flexibility among Japanese is still present up to date.

Education and Modernization

The Tokugawa period also known as Edo period started in 1603 and ended in 1868 in Japanese history. During this period, Tokugawa Shogunate ruled the Japanese society. The entire region of Japan that comprised of regional Daimyo totaling to 300 were under this era. During this period, Japan witnessed increased economic growth, social orders, which were strict, foreign policies, which were characterized by isolation, rise in environmental protection as well as culture and art enjoyment by the population and world at large. The date of establishment of this era as 24th March, 1603, and the founder was Tokugawa Ieyasu and ended on 3rd May, 1868 following restoration of Meiji.

During the period of Tokugawa, nativism (kokugaku) as well as the school of Mito did an examination of uniqueness of the culture of Japanese. Emperor was very important during this period as he was a symbol of unity in the entire nation. As these people shared common culture, their beliefs as well as background too were similar. These aspects of culture were vital in ensuring that the Japanese people were ahead when it comes to unity, the driver of development. During the Tokugawa period, there was great emphasis on education and his was vital in ensuring that Japan had a transition that was smooth. There was a great achievement among the Japanese as far as education is concerned. There was myriad of enrollment of pupils to school.

The time the Meiji Restoration begun in 1868, the literacy rate among Japanese was high. The shogunate of Tokugawa learning interest was far beyond Japan. They also acquired education from European countries though they avoided anything to do with Christianity. Dutch studies that entailed translation as well as western works studies on geography, science, military science, medicine among other studies were backed up by Tokugawa Shogunate. These studies were of significance among the Japanese as through them, they were able to learn about the technology of as well as the idea of western countries. This eventually contributed to modernization of Japan.

Briefly, the Japanese people do have a great education respect. In addition, they also love learning and this culture was more prominent during the Tokugawa period. An evidence for this is education ministry establishment in 1871. The law that made education universal was promulgated in 1872. Development affected culture in various ways. Prior to advancement of education system amoong the Japanese, divorce rate was low. This however hanged in premature modern Japan. This rate was observed to be high among the scholar families. During this period, divorce laws were not strict. However, more rigid laws were established by the government against divorce. This was with the aim of making the nation modern. Rise in divorce rate as a result of improved education was viewed as culture backwardness. There was a significant drop on divorce rate at the rate of 1.5. This was in 1899; a year after the civil code was promulgated. From 1882-1897, the rate of divorce were prominent. Decline in divorce rate was witness until 1964.

The Chinese Confucian as well as Buddhist teachings were the basis of formal education around the period of 6th century. This education system had minimal influence on society because officials tasked with running the programs failed. The Portuguese arrived in Japan in 1543, and they were the first Europeans to set foot in Japan. A Christian missionary Francis Xavier arrived in Japan with the intention of spreading Christianity among the Japanese people. Years later, other missionaries joined him in spreading Christianity. They also constructed Christian schools and this opened the doors for active westernization to be introduced in Japan. The new religion that was taught by the missionaries corrupted the religious beliefs of the Japanese people. The schools that were set up played an important role of educating members of the society. 

Following Meiji Restoration, Japan began to send its students abroad to acquire the highly important education. This people were sent to military academies and universities to acquire knowledge. The western education system was embraced, and children were taught according to this system.

Militarism in Japan saw education being used as tools for preparing for war. However, after the Second World War, education reforms became necessary to abolish militarist teaching. The education system was reformed, and the American education system was adopted. Other reforms have been introduced in line with the Japanese bid for industrialization. The education system has adopted a practical basis, which encouraged students to be creative and innovative, and this is the reason behind Japan being one of the most industrialized nations in the world.

Modernization and Divorce Rates

With industrialization of Japan in 1960s, the rate of divorce begun rising again. It is clear that there is a strong relationship between divorce rate rise and industrialization. Prior to advancement of Japan as an education as well as industrial hub, there were very little cases of divorce. Japan’s culture prohibited divorce even before the laws on divorce were established. During the Tokugawa Period, there was establishment of law on divorce. This made filing for divorce rigid thus lowering the divorce rates. There were various grounds established for one to be allowed to divorce his or her wife and among them include disobedient to parent in law and infertility among others. Just as human beings are united, they too can dissolve. This belief is part of Japanese culture and has contributed to rise in divorce rates.

Modernization and Marriage

In ancient Japanese agricultural society, marriage was treated with a lot of dignity as the new member (through marriage) was seen to be able bodied, thus contributing to agricultural production. Household survival was also dependent on this new development. A divorce rate among peasants whose economic status was low was observed to be frequent. This is because they had an attitude towards marriage. It was observed that families with high economic status (Samurai) experienced low levels of divorce as tension to make end meet was reduced. In the 19th century, the divorce rates were high among commoners (fishermen, merchants and farmers).

Local conditions changes might have played a role in marriage instability among people during pre-industrialization period. Due to economic hardships, sons as well as daughters were restricted to get married or marry. Marriage breakups may have also been caused by economic hardship. In initial modern Japan, there was retention of one member of married person by the family. Household survival was critical for organization of the village. This is because each family had to contribute towards payment of taxes. Several strategies were employed by farming families. Among them is birth control. This culture is practiced up to date as a way of ensuring that there are few people for the available resources.

When people become susceptible to stress as a result of low social economic status, there is high rate of divorce. Marriage is dependent on economic status among the Japanese people. Development of industries as well as other areas has thus affected marriage among the Japanese. According to the recent study, marriage during initial modern Japan was more likely to be sustained among the rich (Samurai). Today, the rate of divorce among the Japanese is on rise. This trend started emerging in 1960. At that time, Japan started developing at a great rate. The rate of divorce is however low compared to that of U.S. The rate is however growing as the country continues developing. The rate of marriage breakup has been shown by recent studies to have multiplied. Apart from conflicts in the families, another factor contributing to this rise is low levels of unemployment. The Japanese culture calls for people to be busy all the time such that the couple does have time for each other. The study also indicated that those divorced end up not getting married again.

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