University of California Irvine Comparing China and Japan Essay


In the assigned documents by LIN ZEXU and  FUKUZAWA YUKICHI (SEE ATTACHED FILES), both men are confronting the changing status of Asia in the world order. As your final assignment, compare and contrast how Lin and Fukuzawa speak about Asia’s position in relation to the Western world. 
In your first paragraph, summarize Lin Zexu’s memorial to Queen Victoria. What is he asking her to do, and how would you describe his tone in this letter? 
In your second paragraph, summarize Fukuzawa’s argument. What does he predict about the future of Western civilization in Asia, and how does he describe the responses of Japan, China, and Korea to Western ideas and technologies?

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A Documentary History
Volume II
The Late Tokugawa Period
to the Present
David J. Lu
An East Gate Book
Taylor & Francis Group
fleeting the fast pace of industrialization. There was a constant search for models
to follow, and the West continued to provide sources of inspiration. Some sought
answers in Christianity, while others found viable alternatives in socialism,
Marxism, and even anarchism.
This chapter begins with a selection from Fukuzawa Yukichi, in which he
admonishes his readers to acquire a spirit of independence and academic freedom. Next comes Fukuzawa’s advocation of Datsu-a, or saying good-bye to
Asia. These are followed by a glimpse into the entrepreneur spirit of early Meiji
businessmen and concludes with an antiwar editorial of Kotoku Shosui. In traditional Japan, society always took precedence over the individual. Signs of the
changing times can be seen in the writings selected here, as one may find redefinition of an individual’s place in society (as provided by Fukuzawa), his choosing a calling (as enunciated by Shibuzawa), and exercising his conscience to
disobey the state power (as suggested by Kotoku). On a separate issue, when
protection is granted by the state, corporations are honor bound to do the bidding
of the state, as Mitsubishi’s founder clearly suggested. There was a constant
search for progress and, to accommodate it, a search for changes in attitudes. All
these issues were joined together to create a vibrant Meiji society.
In the transmission of knowledge concerning the West, no one had a greater
impact than Fukuzawa Yukichi (1834-1901). Born in a lower samurai family,
Fukuzawa studied in Nagasaki and became a student of Dutch studies. In 1860
when the Tokugawa bakufu sent its first official mission to the United States, he
was retained as a translator. In 1862 when a bakufu mission was sent to Europe,
he was again asked to accompany it. In 1867, he again went to the United States
to acquire new knowledge. After his return he established a private academy
called Keio Gijuku and engaged in teaching and writing to enlighten his fellow
countrymen. In 1868 he moved the site of his school to Mita and concentrated on
educational activities. He taught the dignity of the individual and attempted to
inculcate in his students a spirit of independence. He spoke of pragmatic approaches to social issues and renounced old customs and practices. His stress on
utilitarianism and political economy paved the way for Keio graduates to advance in the business world. Fukuzawa shunned governmental service and was
content with publishing his own newspaper, Jiji Shimpo (in 1882), as a means of
persuading the public toward acceptance of his political philosophy of gradualism. He was a prolific writer with one hundred volumes to his credit. Among his
major works were Conditions of the West (Seiyo Jijo, 1866) and An Outline of
Civilization (Bummeiron no Gairyaku, 1875). Document 1 is taken from his
Encouragement of Leaming (Gakumon no Susume). Chapter 5, from which this
selection is taken is less well known than the popular Chapter 1. In this chapter,
he spoke of a spirit of independence that wr;uld insist on independence from
governmental interference and on adherence to academic freedom. Broadly interpreted, it was also the spirit that could eventually make Japan equal to other
civilized nations.
In 1885, which was the ei_ghteenth year of Meiji and nine years before the
coming of the Sino-Japanese war, Fukuzawa wrote an article “Datsu-a Ron” (On
Saying Good-bye to Asia, Document 2) urging his fellow countrymen to cast
away the shackles of East Asian traditions. Around that time the notion of panAsianism became intellectually respectable, with pundits suggesting Japan assume the leadership role over other East Asian nations. It implied Japan retain
much of the East Asian traditions and become aligned with China and Korea. In
Fukuzawa ‘s view, it would have presented another obstacle to the path to
bummei kaika. He wanted a clean break from the past, accompanied by changes
in attitudes and perspectives, so that Japan would truly become part of the
civilized world of the West.
*bummei kaika = civilization and enlightenment
Encouragement of Learning, Chapter Five, 1874 1 From ancient times,
changes have occurred in our government in accordance with the alternating
cycle of peace and turmoil. We have never lost our independence because the
cycle of peace and turmoil has never been concerned with foreign powers, and
the nation has been able to bask in the security of closing the country from the
rest of the world. Since we have been isolated from foreign countries, peace has
been one of domestic peace, and turmoil has been one of domestic turmoil. We
have never fought against another nation. This situation is akin to a little child
who has never had any occasion to meet strangers.
Now, suddenly, intercourse with foreign nations becomes a reality, and the
business of our nation becomes closely tied with foreign affairs. The trend today
is to compare things in our country with those of foreign countries before taking
any action….
We cannot speak of any country’s civilization by simply observing its outward manifestations. Schools, industries, the army, and the navy are all manifestations of a civilization. To formulate these outward manifestations is not too
difficult. They can even be purchased by money. However, there is something
which is invisible. It cannot be seen, cannot be heard, cannot be sold or bought,
and cannot be lent or borrowed. When it is found in the midst of the citizens of a
country, its power will be strongly felt, and without it, schools or any other
outward manifestations of a civilization will be rendered useless. It can indeed be
called the spirit of a civilization, and is its greatest and most important factor.
What is it then? It is the spirit of independence among men!
1Ienaga Saburo, ed., Fukuzawa Yukichi in Gendai Nihon Shiso Taikei (Great Compilation of Modern Japanese Thought), vol. 2 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1963), pp. 189–93.
foundation far removed from its present weak state. Let us make it possible to
compete successfully against foreign nations without yielding. And several decades from now, on the same new year’s day, let us look back to today’s independence, not to rejoice but to take a benign pity on its insufficient state. How
wonderful it will be if this will come to pass. I beseech all of you. my fellow
scholars. to set your goals high and look forward to the future.
Good-bye Asia (Datsu-a), 18852 Transportation has become so convenient these days that once the wind of Westem civilization blows to the East,
every blade of grass and every tree in the East follow what the W estem wind
brings. Ancient Westerners and present-day Westerners are from the same stock
and are not much different from one another. The ancient ones moved slowly,
but their contemporary counterparts move vivaciously at a fast pace. This is
possible because present-day Westerners take advantage of the means of transportation available to them. For those of us who live in the Orient, unless we
want to prevent the coming of Western civilization with a firm resolve, it is best
that we cast our lot with them. If one observes carefully what is going on in
today’s world, one knows the futility of trying to prevent the onslaught of Western civilization. Why not float with them in the same ocean of civilization, sail
the same waves, and enjoy the fruits and endeavors of civilization?
The movement of a civilization is like the spread of measles. Measles in
Tokyo start in Nagasaki and come eastward with the spring thaw. We may hate
the spread of this communicable disease, but is there any effective way of preventing it? I can prove that it is not possible. In a communicable disease, people
receive only damages. In a civilization, damages may accompany benefits, but
benefits always far outweigh them, and their force cannot be stopped. This being
the case, there is no point in trying to prevent their spread. A wise man encourages the spread and allows our people to get used to its ways.
The opening to the modem civilization of the West began in the reign ofKaei
(1848-58). Our people began to discover its utility and gradually and yet actively moved toward its acceptance. However, there was an old-fashioned and
bloated government that stood in the way of progress. It was a problem impossible to solve. If the government were allowed to continue, the new civilization
could not enter. The modern civilization and Japan’s old conventions were mutually exclusive. If we were to discard our old conventions, that government also
had to be abolished. We could have prevented the entry of this civilization, but it
would have meant loss of our national independence. The struggles taking place
in the world civilization were such that they would not allow an Eastern island
2 Fukuzawa Yukichi, “Datsu-a Ron” (On Saying Good-bye to Asia), reprinted in
Takeuchi Yoshimi, ed., Azia Shugi (Asianism) Gendai Nihon Shiso Taikei (Great Compilation of Modern Japanese Thought), vol. 8 (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1963), pp. 38-40.
nation to slumber in isolation. At that point, dedicated men (shijin) recognized
the principle of “the country is more important than the government,” relied on
the dignity of the Imperial Household, and toppled the old government to establish a new one. With this, public and the private sectors alike, everyone in our
country accepted the modem Westem civilization. Not only were we able to cast
aside Japan’s old conventions, but we also succeeded in creating a new axle
toward progress in Asia. Our basic assumptions could be summarized in two
words: “Good-bye Asia (Datsu-a).”
Japan is located in the eastern extremities of Asia, but the spirit of her people
have already moved away from the old conventions of Asia to the West em
civilization. Unfortunately for Japan, there are two neighboring countries. One is
called China and another Korea. These two peoples, like the Japanese people,
have been nurtured by Asiatic political thoughts and mores. It may be that we are
different races of people, or it may be due to the differences in our heredity or
education; significant differences mark the three peoples. The Chinese and Koreans are more like each other and together they do not show as much similarity
to the Japanese. These two peoples do not know how to progress either personally or as a nation. In this day and age with transportation becoming so convenient, they cannot be blind to the manifestations of Western civilization. But they
say that what is seen or heard cannot influence the disposition of their minds.
Their love affairs with ancient ways and old customs remain as strong as they
were centuries ago. In this new and vibrant theater of civilization when we speak
of education, they only refer back to Confucianism. As for school education,
they can only cite [Mencius’s] precepts of humanity, righteousness, decorum,
and knowledge. 3 While professing their abhorrence to ostentation, in reality they
show their ignorance of truth and principles. As for their morality, one only has
to observe their unspeakable acts of cruelty and shamelessness. Yet they remain
arrogant and show no sign of self-examination.
In my view, these two countries cannot survive as independent nations with
the onslaught of Westem civilization to the East. Their concerned citizens might
yet find a way to engage in a massive reform, on the scale of our Meiji Restoration, and they could change their governments and bring about a renewal of spirit
among their peoples. If that could happen they would indeed be fortunate. However, it is more likely that would never happen, and within a few short years they
will be wiped out from the world with their lands divided among the civilized
nations. Why is this so? Simply at a time when the spread of civilization and
enlightenment (bummei kaika) has a force akin to that of measles, China and
Korea violate the natural law of its spread. They forcibly try to avoid it by
shutting off air from their rooms. Without air, they suffocate to death. It is said
that neighbors must extend helping hands to one another because their relations
are inseparable. Today’s China and Korea have not done a thing for Japan. From
Japanese, Jin, gi, rei, chi, and in Chinese )en, i, Ii, chih (ren, yi, Ii, zhi).
the perspectives of civilized W estemers, they may see what is happening in
China and Korea and judge Japan accordingly, because of the three countries’
geographical proximity. The governments of China and Korea still retain their
autocratic manners and do not abide by the rule oflaw. Westerners may consider
Japan likewise a lawless society. Natives of China and Korea are deep in their
hocus pocus of nonscientific behavior. W estem scholars may think that Japan
still remains a country dedicated to the yin and yang and five elements. Chinese
are mean-spirited and shameless, and the chivalry of the Japanese people is lost
to the W estemers. Koreans punish their convicts in an atrocious manner, and that
is imputed to the Japanese as heartless people. There are many more examples I
can cite. It is not different from the case of a righteous man living in a neighborhood of a town known for foolishness, lawlessness, atrocity, and heartlessness.
His action is so rare that it is always buried under the ugliness of his neighbors’
activities. When these incidents are multiplied, that can affect our normal conduct of diplomatic affairs. How unfortunate it is for Japan.
What must we do today? We do not have time to wait for the enlightenment
of our neighbors so that we can work together toward the development of Asia. It
is better for us to leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with civilized
nations of the West. As for the way of dealing with China and Korea, no special
treatment is necessary just because they happen to be our neighbors. We simply
follow the manner of the W estemers in knowing how to treat them. Any person
who cherishes a bad friend cannot escape his bad notoriety. We simply erase
from our minds our bad friends in Asia.
Japan’s early industrialization was guided by a number of remarkable entrepreneurs. There were Shibuzawa Eiichi (1840–1931), who presided over one hundred companies, Iwasaki Yataro (1834-85), who founded Mitsubishi, and
Nakamigawa Hikojiro (1854-1901) who reformed and reorganized the Mitsui
combine to give it strength for further growth. They were giants of Japanese
industries who occupied positions comparable to Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller in American history. 4
Were these Japanese entrepreneurs different from their Western counterparts
when they stressed the goals of the state and of community first before their own
profits? Did they have a different modus operandi? How strongly were they
influenced by their feudal past? What role did the government play in Japan’s
industrial development? What about the factor of making right connections
4 For a convenient bibliography on early Japanese entrepreneurship, see Henry
Rosovsky and Kozo Yamamura, “Entrepreneurial Studies in Japan: An Introduction,” in
Business History Review 44, no. 1(Spring1970): 1-12.

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