Path to Modernization
Question 1: What were the major developments before the Meiji restoration that made it possible for Japan to modernise rapidly?
Answer: Following were the major developments before the Meiji restoration that made it possible for Japan to modernize rapidly:
- The peasantry was disarmed and only the samurai could carry swords. This ensured peace in the countryside.
- The daimyo was ordered to live the capitals of their domains, each with a large degree of autonomy. This ensured that the daimyo could not pose challenge.
- Land surveys identified owners and taxpayers and graded land productivity to ensure a stable revenue base.
This resulted in growth of a commercial economy and created financial and credit systems. Japan imported luxury good like silk from China and textiles from India, and hence was considered rich. Payments for imports were made with gold and silver. It put strains on the economy. This led Tokugawa to put restrictions on export of precious metals. Steps were taken to develop the silk industry in Nishijin in Kyoto to reduce imports. Social and intellectual changes led people to question the extent of Chinese influence. People started to discover and respect their old Japanese culture.
Question 2: Discuss how daily life was transformed as Japan developed.
Answer: Japan had a tradition of patriarchal household in which many generations lived together under the control of the head of the house. As more people became affluent, new home (homu) of the nuclear family became the norm. The nuclear family created demand for domestic goods, new types of family entertainment and new forms of housing.
Question 3: How did the Qing dynasty try and meet the challenge posed by the Western powers?
Answer: After the first Opium War (1839-42) against Britain, the power of Qing dynasty reduced significantly. Qing reformers harped on traditional Chinese views which were largely based on Confucianism. But as the Qing dynasty failed, people started to demand for reforms and change. It can be said that the Qing dynasty tried but failed in reviving China.
Question 4: What were Sun Yat Sen’s Three Principles?
Answer: Sun Yat Sen’s Three Principles (San min chui) were nationalism, democracy and socialism.
Question 5: Did Japan’s policy of rapid industrialisation lead to wars with its neighbours and destruction of the environment?
Answer: Japan followed the policy of rapid industrialization and expansion. Unregulated industrial growth resulted in environmental degradation; as can be seen from examples of cadmium poisoning. Japan’s expansionist policy resulted in Japan colonizing many countries. It even occupied China and Russia after it won wars against these countries. Ultimately, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in the USA, the end result was Japan entering the Second World War.
Question 6: Do you think that Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China were successful in liberating China and laying the basis for its current success?
Answer: Mao Zedong had a lasting impact on China. His CCP replaced the Guomindang from power and paved the way for the communist rule in China. They carried out land reforms which helped in boosting farm productivity. Mao also promoted industrialization and developed a culture of laborious industrial workers. At present, China is a major economy in the world and its success can be attributed to the initiatives taken by Mao Zedong.