Japanese History

Published 29 Dec 2016

Japan, as a nation, is a continually changing society. Ever since western nations became involved with Japan, it’s changes over recent times have increased at a substantial rate. Japan now faces cultural, economical and social differences as a result of the western involvement. The involvement was initiated by the Japanese themselves, beginning during the Meiji Period1 through current times. As time increases, Japan is slowly becoming more ‘westernized’ because of western involvement. Western involvement is greatly affecting Japan.

Western involvement began in Japan during the late 1800’s. The Meiji dynasty helped to carry it through, seeing the importance of western ideas. “Learn all you can from the Europeans and Americans”2 was what Emperor Meiji was saying to the Japanese in 1867. During this period, Japan agreed to change it’s hereditary authority and class barriers between its people.3 Japan also opened their ports during this period4 and sold fuel to other countries such as the Us.5 The Japanese language took a major turn, too, with the addition of borrowed words from all over the world.6 Japan borrowed the American education system of elementary, middle school and universities during this time.7 A new western style army and universal military conscription program were soon set up by General Yamagata Autamo as well.8

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The Meiji period was an important part of Japan’s changing western ways. After World War II, Japan changed forever. With the Atomic bomb physically destroying their cities, and their defeat destroying their imperialistic mentalities, Japan was deeply wounded. Japan lost the respect of the world during the war and few people felt sorry for them. However, they were soon willing to accept the concepts and ideas from abroad.9 The Us helped Japan and showed them many new things to help them get on their feet again. We explained to them about the electric telegraph and soon after we even connected them with California’s telegraphs.10 Many Japanese women started to wear western dresses or even sweaters and slacks.11 Japan changed politically as well.

Japan became pided up into 47 prefectures, which are similar to American states. Japan has carried over America’s democratic ideas of social freedom, economic independence, and democratic liberties and privileges Japan’s government soon began the executive, legislative, and judicial branches seen in America seen after the war.13 These changes all became possible soon after the war with great financial aid from the Us.14 Japan’s progress in America’s modernization program was so fast, we had to begin recognizing Japan as a world power.15

After Japan’s modernization program, Japanese life began to change less dramatically, but never stopped. Within recent times, many western- style appliances and such can be found in Japanese homes.16 The Japanese schools, based on America’s, teach the same things in grade school as American schools.17 Many of the students are learning in these schools to take English language courses to help them as they get older.18 Sports today, are shaped similar to America’s. Japan has carried over many sports from America including frisbees, jogging, skateboarding19, and baseball.20

Baseball is among their favorites and was brought over by an American teacher as far back as the late 1800s.21 Japanese baseball is made up of the same components of American baseball as well. For example, leagues in Tokyo are made up with leagues of 6 universities similar to our leagues.22 The Japanese have joined the Olympic game stream and now they are active participants and were even hosts for the 1964 Games.23 Many clubs after Japanese schools end were brought over from Western countries, too.24 Following the world trends, Japanese silk mills have turned largely to the spinning of synthetic fiber textiles, which was started from the west, to keep up with other countries in the silk trade.25

Many of the Japanese people now wear and even make western style clothing everyday, except for special occasions or relaxing at home.26 The family lives are even becoming similar to Western ways as the children get more respect and the members learn to voice their opinions in a household.27 Japan, with recent developments, needs to trade with other nations and learn from them.28

In summary, this paper Japan, with the growing western influence, is changing very rapidly. Japan survived the initial shock of the western impact only to run into the problems of the west today.29 Yet, Japan continues to try to overcome these challenges by every passing day. Japan is a much different country from the pre-1800s. Because of these changes, Japan has a different cultural living currently, with the introduction of baseball to Japan and other sports. Japan’s economy has changed with the inclusion of American money and products in trade. Finally, Japan’s political ideas have changed shape with our Democratic model which we’ve passed onto them. Japan is learning that the West has some rich ideas that it had been ignoring for centuries.


  • Davidson, Judith. Japan – Where East Meets West. Minnesota: Dillon Press Inc., 1983.
  • Greene, Carol. Enchantment of the World, Japan. Chicago: Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises Inc., 1983.
  • Miller, Richard J. and Katoh, Lynn. Japan. New York: Franklyn Watts Inc., 1969.
  • Pitts, Forrest R. Japan. Canada: Fideler Company., 1974.
  • Reischauer, Edwin O. The United States and Japan. Massachusettes: Harvard University Press, 1965.
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