|tributary of China. This meant that Korean kings were
expected to use the Chinese calendar and seek confirmation of their
enthronement from the emperor of China (who at the time technically
happened to be Manchu rather than Han Chinese), who also issued
approximately annual proclamations to Korea. ... Although Korea was an
acknowledged tributary of the Chinese Empire, as one Chinese official
explained in 1876, this really meant that except for the obligatory
ceremonial tribute missions, Korea was entirely autonomous in both its
domestic and foreign affairs. The peculiar ambiguity of Korea’s
relationship with China even became a convenient excuse for rebuffing
early Western approaches. When the British attempted to advance trade
proposals with Korea in 1845, it was explained that this would be
impossible because Korea “could not be opened to trade by China, for it
was not part of China,” and it also “could not open itself to trade,
for it was not independent.” (HEA, 235-6)|
Will the "Real" Commodore Perry
Who was the real “Last Samurai”?
Ken Watanabe (beside Tom Cruise)
The industrial development sponsored and financed by the government proved a costly item. It was made possible only by a deliberative decision to favor industry at the expense of agriculture. In 1880 about 75 percent of the population was engaged in farming, and 80 percent of the tax revenue came from the agricultural yield. This tax revenue enabled the government, among other things, to pay for imported industrial machinery and the services of foreign experts. Foreign loans could be negotiated, but these were expensive and involved an unacceptable measure of dependence on foreign governments; no one had invented foreign aid, and Japan had to pay as she went. ...
The 1870s had been a decade of unprecedented expenditure. In addition to the payments to samurai and daimyo and the industrial financing, it had been necessary to make new outlays for the development of Hokkaido, the northern island. ... Then at the end of the decade came a period of serious inflation, which added to the difficulties of the government. ... The members of the government considered requesting a foreign loan, which they could have secured from London, but on the advice of the able finance minister, Matsukata Masayoshi (1835-1924), they decided on a policy of retrenchment and economy instead. ... Among the economy measures introduced by Matsukata was the sale to private buyers of factories and enterprises which had originally been financed by the government. For some of these enterprises it was not easy to find purchasers, and the prices were not advantageous to the government as sales were made at figures varying from 11 to 90 percent of the original investment. Ready cash, however, was made available to the government, and the losses were more than balanced by the advantage of new industries to the nation as a whole. ...
Some of the firms which benefited most from the purchase of government financed concerns were the great business houses which emerged as the so-called zaibatsu (“financial clique”) firms. The first in order of size was Mitsui, which started in Tokugawa as a sake brewery and branched out into the sale of dry goods and into banking [establishing Japan’s first private bank on July 1, 1876]. ......
The firm bought the Tomioka silk-reeling mill from the government ...
... began to engage in heavy industry ...
... and set up the great Mitsukoshi department store business as a separate entity. ...
The second zaibatsu firm of Mitsubishi owed its origin to a Tosa samurai, Iwasaki Yataro (1834-1885), who, with the help of the resources of the Tosa domain and government subsidies, set up his own shipping line. From this in turn developed the famous N.Y.K., Nippon Yusen Kaisha, or Japanese Mail Line. (Japan: Its History and Culture, 159-60)
Restoration in Korea?The 1860s were a decade of restorations in East Asia. China had its Tongzhi Restoration, Japan had its Meiji Restoration, and there was also a royal restoration of sorts in Korea as well. ... In Korea, King Kojong (r. 1864-1907) came to the throne in 1864 at the age of twelve. The king’s father, who was known as the Taewon’gun (the “Lord of the Great Court”), was still alive (he had not himself ever been king), and he acted as an informal regent from 1864 to 1873 on his son’s behalf. As regent, the Taewon’gun attempted to promote reforms that would invigorate the Korean monarchy by reducing corruption, inefficiency, and yangban aristocratic privileges. At the same time, he intensified the crackdown on Christianity and hardened Korea’s resolve in fending off the growing number of Western approaches. ... After the Meiji Restoration of imperial rule in Japan in 1868, and the dissolution of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan’s new Western-style Imperial Foreign Office officially assumed jurisdiction over Korean relations from the daimyo of Tsushima in 1871. The Korean government, however, refused to accept these changes. ... Korea’s refusal to recognize the imperial government in Japan was regarded as an outrage by many patriotic Japanese and provoked debate over the desirability of immediate war with Korea. ... In 1876, Japan further signaled the firmness of its intentions by dispatching three warships, four transports, and eight hundred soldiers to Korea ... [with the result that] Korea signed a modern Western-style treaty (the Treaty of Kanghwa) with Japan. This treaty formally declared Korea to be an independent country (supposedly clarifying its ambiguous relationship with China) and granted Japan various treaty port-style concessions. (HEA, 236-8)
Kojong & the Taewon’gun
” custody. A new Korean government was proclaimed, and modernizing reforms were outlined. Chinese troops counterattacked the palace immediately, however, regaining custody of the king. The result of this failed coup, which only lasted two days, was to tarnish the reputations of both the reform and the pro-Japanese positions. (HEA, 238)
Their objective was to modernize Korea by attaining autonomy or independence from China by ending the tributary relationship and building a strong nation in the mode of the Meiji reform in Japan. But this posture was opposed by the conservative ruling faction, which was in favor of China’s milder reforms such as the Self-Strengthening Movement. This junta government lasted only three days before it was crushed by the Chinese army. Most of the leading intellectuals fled to Japan. To be noted here is that the reform movements of this whole period from the 1880s to the 1890s were attempted amidst the complex rivalry mainly between China and Japan, with Russia and the United States tangentially involved in the scramble. In the case of this coup attempt, it was Japan that was behind the plot, promising to offer a hand in the action. However, Japan did not keep its word, while China swiftly intervened to halt the coup. Thus, China gained pre-eminent influence over Korea for the following decade through the residency of a Chinese strong man [Yuan Shikai]. (Confucianism and Modernization in East Asia, 72)
Over the following nine months, the Japanese army easily expelled Chinese troops from Korea, captured territory in Manchuria, and even gained a foothold in coastal China proper. Qing Dynasty Chinese forces proved to be badly led, undermined by corruption, and split by faction and regionalism. ... Japan won this Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) with surprising ease. The war was much celebrated in the modern Japanese press but came as a tremendous shock, and a wake-up call, to China. Under the terms of the resulting Treaty of Shimonoseki that ended the hostilities, China was forced to transfer the island of Taiwan to Japan (as well, initially, as a strategic peninsula in southern Manchuria, which intervention by Russia, France, and Germany promptly compelled Japan to return) and to pay Japan an enormous indemnity equal to roughly 15 percent of Japan’s total gross national product. In addition, China formally acknowledge the independence of Korea, which in practice meant the ascent of Japanese influence there. (HEA, 239)
hwangje), asserting his sovereign equality with both the Chinese and Japanese monarchs. Over the next few years, modern army units were organized, postage stamps issued, and streetcars and electric lights introduced into the capital, and in 1902, the newly renamed Korean Empire even acquired a Western-style national anthem. ... A new spirit of modern Korean nationalism began to glimmer, and the hope kindled that Korea might successfully be transformed into an independent, modern, Western-style nation-state. The degree of material modernization remained limited, however, and in the early twentieth century, the dream of Korean independence would prove to be a false hope, as the lengthening shadow of the Japanese Empire stretched across the land. (HEA, 240)