Reader comments are listed below. Comments are currently closed and new comments are no longer being accepted.
"He chose meiji (“enlightened”) for his..."
明治(meiji) means "enlightened reign".
Is the Meiji Resoration itself an argument for embracing modernity with tradition or a lesson in managing change and being lucky in your enemies (to some degree)? Many nations use images of the past as an anchor to manage the tension that comes with great change. The unique thing with Japan is perhaps the degree and speed with which under a banner of tradition the country propelled itself into the 1st rank of nations and then threw it all away only to be conquered by a country rather unique in history (the US) that was not so preoccupied with complete control of another nation. The reason I say to some degree in the opening is that Japan did pay a unique price in that it is (to date and I trust for all of us that remains so) the only country to be attacked with nuclear weapons.
The lesson here, as with much of history is more that it is difficult to properly interpret the lessons from history and apply them to a speecific set of problems today.
Remember when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and six months later their naval forces were destroyed to the point that they never regained the offensive initiative?
"It all went to Japan’s head. " I'll say.
A journalist at "The Economist" wrote, "For [Prime Minister Shinzo Abe], the proud story of the Meiji restoration is a lesson in how people should embrace modernity and change, while revering tradition."
A more accurate assessment of the Meiji Restoration (MR) is that it is a lesson in how people should embrace modernity via Westernization and how they must jettison any native tradition that hinders Westernization.
Abe is wrong in using MR as justification for "revering tradition". Great men (like Yukichi Fukuzawa) during the MR despised many Japanese traditions and successfully helped the Japanese government to build a Western educational system that, for the first time in Asian history, gave a free education to all women.
Japanese modernization during the MR is the benchmark by which we can judge the quality of people in other countries. If people have the intellect and the will to modernize, then they can transform their country into a prosperous, Western nation within about 25 years. By that metric, we know that Africans and Hispanics (in Central and South America) lack the intellect or the will to modernize.
The failure of the Hispanic nations (in Central and South America) is due entirely to the culture and genetics of their people.
There is more information about this issue.
Not only Japan humiliated Russia in 1905 by sinking its fleet off the Japanese coast, but by causing a domestic revolt against the Tsarist autocracy , a movement that led to his abdication ten years later and the communist revolution. It was only thanks to American "generosity" ( read ' ignorance ' of Russia's imperial designs and territorial ambitions ) that the USSR was allowed to occupy Southern Sakhalin and four Kurile islands, an act that remains strongly disputed by generations of Japanese leaders. Of course, the Japanese have kept humiliating Russia ever since they had rebuilt their industrial capacity and greatly expanded their global markets. While for more than half a century Japan keeps flooding Russia with sophisticated high tech products and global marketing skills, all Putin's Russia has been capable of was shipping some crude oil and gas from nearby Sakhalin, some hard coal from Yakutsk and timber from Kamchatka.