In what way was industrialization in Japan different than European industrialization?
After Commodore Perry, a representative of the U.S. government, arrived in Japan in 1853 and demanded trading privileges with Japan, Japan was faced with the question of whether or not to end its isolationism. The country chose to open itself up to western trading, to restore the emperor with the Meiji Restoration, and to industrialize very quickly. Unlike England, for example, which arguably took centuries to industrialize, Japan underwent a very rapid re-organization from feudalism to industrialization.
Another reason why industrialization in Japan was different from what took place in Europe was that industrialization in Japan was largely directed by the government. The government sent officials to the west to observe their military and industrial capacities, and the government put changes into place very quickly. The military was established along western lines, and banks and financial institutions were created, along with railroads and other means of transportation.
Unlike some parts of Europe, however, industrialization in Japan lagged behind that of the west, in part because Japan had to import a great deal of its natural resources, including oil. For this reason, Japan eventually tried to conquer parts of Asia that had sufficient oil reserves.
Finally, industrialization in Japan, unlike in some parts of Europe, did not always result in the modernization of the culture. For example, many Japanese continued to cling to old ways, and there was a division between the generations about modernization and westernization. In addition, women were largely not employed outside the house, unlike in the west. The Japanese adhered to their traditional ways and religion.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial