European and Japanese Imperialismby Rit Nosotro
Compare the values, implementation, and consequences of European and Japanese imperialism.
Two countries on two different sides of the world have had two totally different ways of becoming international powers. Europe's Imperialism and Japan's Imperialism have been completely different. Europe having the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, which made sure that everybody became a Christian, "grew up" differently than Japan whose influence came from their government, which was brutal, caring only for a quick rise in power.
Japan's rise to power did not come, really, until about 1853, which was when "the United States sent a fleet of ships under the command of Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan in order to end the nation's self-imposed isolation and open it to trade." 1
The Japanese, seeing how powerful the west had become, decided that in order to become powerful themselves, they would have to learn as much about and adopt the western culture as much as possible. "Like other subjugated Asian nations, the Japanese were forced to sign unequal treaties with Western powers. These treaties granted the Westerners one-sided economical and legal advantages in Japan. In order to regain independence from the Europeans and Americans and establish herself as a respected nation in the world," 2
Japan sent as many scholars overseas as possible. The knowledge that these scholars brought back brought great change to Japan's feudal system which was promptly thrown away and replaced by a type of democracy/imperialism in which the emperor became a type of figurehead and the real power was put into the hands of a few choice nobles and former Samurai.
This new government, under Emperor Meiji, strove to look democratic by breaking down the barriers of feudalism and placing everyone on the same rung of the social ladder. It was also brutal and mean to its neighbors. As its army grew, so did its territory. "Being its first colony, Japan was determined to rule Taiwan with an iron glove as much prestige rested on its ability to govern Taiwan properly." 3
The Japanese drove north into "Hokkaido during the Meiji era and did a cultural assimilation of the Ainu, who lived there, converting them from hunter-gatherers into agriculturalists." 4
The reason for this being that Hokkaido provided nice farm land and plenty of lumber. Japan went from Hokkaido into Korea and conquered it also. By the time World War II started, Japan had invaded China and decided to take on the United States as well. The United States would not tolerate this so they dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in order to stop their aggression.
Not only was Japan brutal outwardly, but it was inwardly as well. Mothers told their sons going off to war, "Come home in glory, or don't come home at all. If you die fighting for your country we will worship you." During World War II, Japan set up "comfort houses" for their soldiers. These so called "comfort houses" used women who were shipped in mostly from Korea, which was under Japanese rule at the time. "Once the women arrived at the comfort station they were forced to have sex with 20 to 30 men a day. If they resisted they were beaten or killed." 5
Many of the women went sterile after a while and when they proved useless, their milk was mixed with cyanide and their bodies where placed in caves that were later blown up. The reason for such brutality was founded on the myth that "sex before battle could magically ward off injury." 6
Such cruelty was that of the Japanese Imperialism. That of the Europe imperialism has a better side to it.
Europe, in search of political power, became imperialists themselves. They were not as brutal to their own people as Japan was, but they still conquered and divided. Europe had a head start on Japan in the line of time we know now as history. As early as the early 900s through out the 1300s, people from all over Europe went on crusades to what was left of Israel, which was then ruled by Turks and Muslims. They went to conquer the "infidels" who dared to "defile" that holy land of Palestine. The main country that grew most rapidly was England. Others around it grew likewise. Such growth was founded on the fact that many countries on or near the sea sent ships to seek out new land and peoples to trade with. India was found, and so was China. Thanks to the Europeans, Japan was forced to open its harbors to its neighbors. Europe in and of itself became powerful.
The only difference that separated it from Japan was that while Japan was brutal, Europe, (and one has to give them credit for this) spread missionaries. Missionaries like Hudson Taylor and Gladys Aylward were able to enter China and show people God's love. Amy Carmichael was able to go to India to adopt and take care of hundreds of little girls from bad homes. When Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand from Spain sent Columbus on his way to search for China, their hope, besides finding a quicker trade route to China, was that they would be able to spread the gospel across the ocean. The Pilgrims were the first to settle a purely Christian colony in America. They, in fact came over for the sole purpose of worshiping God the way they wanted to. Because America was founded with Christian roots, missionaries like David Brainard were able to live with and minister to the Indians.
Yes, Europe became powerful. They realized the "value" of slaves and started slave traffic from Africa and America, and this helped them grow stronger. Germany eventually became so strong England and various European countries along with the United States had to fight against it, in order to keep from being overwhelmed by the flood of Nazis. Both Europe and Japan are similar with the fact that they were both Imperialists at one time. "Imperialism is empire building. Expansion occurs when one state is more powerful than are the obstacles to expansion. The obstacles may be other states or peoples, or they may be geographic or physical or technological obstacles." 7
This is what both did. In order to house people, both countries did what they thought was right and expanded, sometimes upon other people, sometimes into open country. Japan and Europe are different in the sense that Europe expanded not only for power, but also so they could spread the gospel. Japan expanded just for power. Many people found this unacceptable. But one thing to remember is that no matter how big and powerful empires get on earth they will all perish eventually, for there will always be One who is above rulers and kings and his word and law shall never fail. "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." -Isaiah 40:8
Japanese imperialism in Taiwan (1895-1945) <http://www.mcauley.acu.edu.au/staff/andrewp/Taiwan_Pages/Taiwan_History_4.htm>
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