Why Did Japan Succeed in Modernising and Industrialising in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries While China and Korea Failed to Do so?

2585 Words May 9th, 2008 11 Pages
Why did Japan succeed in modernising and industrialising in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries while China and Korea failed to do so?

During the late nineteenth century, China, Japan and Korea all had the opportunity to modernise and industrialise. The leaders of each country had died which provided a fresh start for new leaders and new ideas of reform but it was only Japan who succeeded to successfully modernise and industrialise due to a number of factors, leaving its neighbours China and Korea behind. In this essay I am going to discuss the reasons why Japan was able to modernise and why China and Korea’s attempts failed.
First I shall discuss the reasons why China’s attempts at modernising and industrialising failed.
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Japan had truly exposed China’s weaknesses and regions of the country continued to be annexed.
Furthermore, China’s attempt at modernising the country with the “Hundred Days of Reform” failed once again due to the Empress Dowager Cixi. Resuming power and placing the emperor under house arrest signalled the end of the reform movement and consequently, China’s festering problems remained (Cohen, 2000, 296). Similarly, Cixi’s support of the Boxers in the Boxer war had strong implications for China. When a protocol was signed ending the Boxer War in 1901, the Chinese were forced to take on an “enormous financial burden that impeded the dynasty’s ability to rule and retarded the country’s efforts to industrialise” (Cohen, 2000, 298). This further weakened China and the aim of modernising and industrialising was pushed further away.
After the collapse of the Qing in 1911, the opportunity arose for China to finally solve its internal problems and once again attempt to modernise. However, things turned worse and China began to suffer from nation-wide warlordism. According to Zhang and Anderrson (1998, 116-117), civilian authorities had no choice but to work the powerful local military leaders who were backed by their own armies as there was again no central authority. China had broken down completely at a time when the country could have been resolved and modernised.
Compared to China, Korea also

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