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Current time:0:00Total duration:9:20

Video transcript

- [Tutor] What we're going to discuss in this video is the evolution of Japan from being one of the most isolated countries in the world during the Tokugawa shogunate to being the first Asian country to truly industrialize and become a world power. Historians will often categorize imperialism or colonialism in one of two categories. You have settler colonialism and economic colonialism. Settler colonialism is exemplified by the Americas, Australia, South Africa, where you have the empire sending people from their country to settle that territory, oftentimes displacing indigenous people and becoming the ruling class. Then you have economic colonialism whose primary goal is to feed the purported needs of the Industrial Revolution. India and Indonesia are good examples of this. You're looking for raw materials to feed your increased productivity, and you're also looking for markets. And so, in this context, as we think about the evolution of Japan from being extremely isolated to becoming an imperial power, think about which of these motivations was primary to Japan. Or maybe was there a third motivation? Let's begin in the 19th century. Japan is in control of the Tokugawa shogunate, who has closed the country to foreigners. One of the purported reasons is fearing the influence of Christian missionaries as early as the 17th century. You have the British in India. You have the Spanish who have been in the Philippines for several hundred years at this point. You have the Dutch in control of much of what will eventually be Indonesia. This orange color shows where the French already have a strong hold in Indo-China and Southeast Asia. And then this peach color, this is what they would eventually control as we get into the latter half of the 19th century. But to really understand Japanese motivations in the 19th century, you have to think about what was happening in Qing China as we talk about in the video on the Opium Wars. The British and other imperial powers want access to Chinese markets. The Europeans want Chinese porcelain and Chinese silk. But the Chinese weren't interested in trading with the Europeans. The Europeans, especially the British, eventually do find something the Chinese want and that's opium, which is an addictive drug. It's the core ingredient in heroin and in morphine. The Chinese government of course does not want that opium inside the country, but as we talk about in previous videos, the British are able to force their way in with the First Opium War, often referred to as gunboat diplomacy. And after winning the First Opium War, the British are able to extract concessions from the Chinese including opening up these ports. And even that does not satisfy the British. And so, you have the Second Opium War from 1856 to 1860, after which opium, this addictive drug, is legalized. And to make matters worse for China, during the same period, they have an incredibly bloody civil war where over 20 million people die. Historians think in part due to the lack of confidence in the Qing Dynasty because of the Opium Wars and the opium itself that is very destructive to society. Now, the Japanese were watching all this, and they also had their own interactions with the West. In 1853, the American Commodore Matthew Perry comes in with some of his ships into Edo Harbor, which is modern day Tokyo, and is able to convince the Japanese to trade with the United States. The term convinced should be used very carefully because once again, this was a form of gunboat diplomacy. The Japanese saw the ships that Commodore Perry traveled with, and they knew what had happened during the First Opium War. And they were in no mood to have the same thing happen to them. Especially when Commodore Perry returned in 1854 with even more ships, the Japanese decided, why fight them? We will open up and allow some trade. And this is a very big deal. Remember, the Tokugawa shogunate had closed the country for over 200 years, but now they saw the writing on the wall. They could not defend themselves against the American warships. Like in China, these concessions in Japan to the Americans began to undermine trust in the Tokugawa shogunate. And to get a feel for what people were thinking in the mid-19th century in Japan, we have some quotations from Shimazu Nariakira, who was the daimyo of Satsuma, which is at the southern tip of Japan right over here. But he was considered to be a leading thinker of the time. And this photograph, it's not so clear, but this is believed to be the first photograph taken by Japanese. That gives you a sense of the time, that photography daguerreotypes were starting to be in use. "It was inconceivable that China would deteriorate to such a degree." Remember, we're talking about the Opium Wars. We're talking about the Taiping Rebellion. "With its vast territory and population, "there could not have been a dearth "of loyal and devoted patriots. "Yet since the Opium War its administration "has been in disorder and ineffective. "It has been plagued by rebellion "while England and France have invaded it from without. "Japan lies to the east of China, "and is in such a position as to necessitate "immediate steps to prepare against meeting the same fate "as that which has befallen the Chinese; "as soon as England achieves its design in China, "it will most certainly direct its military might eastward. "If we take the initiative, we can dominate; "if we do not, we will be dominated." And this last sentence is often quoted. "If we take the initiative, we can dominate; "if we do not, we will be dominated." It's almost advocating for a reactionary imperialism. Become an empire or become part of someone else's empire. And this is the path that Japan goes down. In 1867, you have the young Emperor Meiji come to power, who was only 15 or 16 years old at the time. This would be the beginning of what is known as the Meiji Restoration. You could say that it's a restoration of power back to the emperor. The emperor existed even during the shogunate but was a figurehead. It was the shogun who had the power. But now, the emperor was able to take back the power from the shogunate. But the Meiji Restoration is perhaps even more important in that it took Japan from being a closed, feudal country, and in only a few decades, to a modern industrial imperial power. Here are some data that gives you a sense of this. 1875, 600,000 metric tons of coal produced. 1913, 21.3 million. So it's grown almost 40 fold. 1873, 26 steamships. 1913, 1,514 steamships. Railroad track, 1872, only 18 miles. By 1914, 7,100. Emperor Meiji dies in 1912, but as we get into 1914, you start to see World War I. And as we talk about in other videos, this industrialization of Japan allows it to be a major actor in World War I. As we exit the 19th century and we also go to the 20th century, we see Japan leveraging its industrial might that we see in numbers here in terms of taking over territory and becoming an imperial power. In this flashing red, this is what Japan is able to take over by the end of World War II. They were able to take over Korea at the beginning of the 20th century. And even though Hitler's invasion of Poland is often given as the start of World War II, Japan's occupation and very brutal occupation of Northeast China is often considered the real start of World War II. As World War II progresses, Japan is able to take more and more territory, French Indo-China, British Burma, the Dutch Indies, Indonesia, Philippines. And this empire only comes to an end when Japan has to surrender at the end of World War II in 1945. So, go back to the previous question. What type of colonial power was Japan? It definitely wanted the natural resources. In fact, especially when it was at war, it needed access to oil which Indonesia had. It needed access to natural resources that all of these areas had, but there was also this element of wanting to be a major player on the global stage in fear that if it wasn't, it might become a victim of colonization itself.