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Japan - Shogun to Emperor to Empire to Democracy & Capitalism
This page provides a detailed anlaysis of the events that culminated in the rise of Imperial Japan as a dominant Industrial International Power. The following Japan's conquest of East Asia and the South East Pacific & its eventual conflict with the United States.
Japan was a feudalistic society up until the mid to late 1800's. For centuries Japan had been ruled by an Emperor, thought to be the living descendant of their God, and the nobles. Japan was isolated from western contact by the Pacific Ocean and the broad expanse of the Asian Continent. The country was ruled by traditional values and a conservative social structure. Yet, the modern world would catch up with the Samurai and Traditional Japanese lifestyle.Under the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867), fiefs controlled directly by the Tokugawa family, or controlled indirectly through related or allied daimyo (feudal lords), formed the basis of government. Less
trustworthy daimyo were left in outlying fiefs and were closely watched. Each daimyo was free to govern the family fief but could be deposed by the shogun and had to attend him every second year in Edo (modern Tokyo). The Tokugawa shogunate gave Japan peace and stability for more than 250 years, until the Meiji Restoration brought it to an end. The map below depicts the areas under control of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Tokugawa Japan was a stable agrarian based society. However, the pressures of the western Industrial world began to encroach upon the seas that surround the Islands of Japan. The Japanese were confronted with a dilemma - do they stick to the traditinal agriculturally based society and shun the forces of capitalism and industrialization or do they embrace those forces and sacrifice certain elelements of traditional Japanese life. (today this is a process referred to by contemporary scholars as "Globalization"). The Tokugawa Shogunate collapsed under the pressures of change. The Samurai and traditional Japanese culture were replaced with the
quest to become the next modern world power. The keys to this goal were: Western Education, Western Military Forces, and Western Industrial Technology.