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Japan and Imperialism 1853-1945 by James Huffman Critical Essay

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Updated: Sep 15th, 2019


James Huffman is the author of the book, Japan and Imperialism 1853-1945. The author uses a dazzling and interactive sequence of events to tell how Japan dealt with the challenge of foreign policy and victimization from colonizers. The author engages the reader by explaining how Japan responded to these challenges.

Adoption and promotion of imperialism in Japan had numerous effects on the country’s development strategies, as well as the welfare of citizens (Huffman 10). In addition, the author analyses the country’s imperialism framework in terms of its positives and negatives.

The book examines many issues about development in Japan, as well as various empirical and theoretical concepts on the same. This essay provides a detailed review of the book by identifying and analyzing various concepts and topical approaches.

Problem: Questions/Issues Examined by the Author

The issue addressed by the author in this book is how Japan managed to establish itself as an economic and political powerhouse in Asia. James Huffman applies his literacy prowess to provide a detailed and sequential recitation of how Japan redeemed the sovereignty of its people amidst the pressures of imperialism and colonization from western nations (Huffman 15).

In addition, the author identifies the problem of pressure coming from Japan’s domestic settlements and administrative districts, which made it hard to achieve effective management of resources. The challenge of imperialism and colonialism was hard for Japan to deal with, as it was targeted and victimized for practicing a learned profession (Huffman 19).

Significance of the Book in Understanding Asian Studies

The book is very useful and significant because it helps the reader gain better understanding of historical facts about Japan. The author incorporates pictures, an alphabetical list of technical terms used in the text, chronology of events, endnotes, and references for anyone interested in expounding their knowledge on any concept developed in the reading.

The author has extensively covered all the important happenings for the entire period from 1853 to1945. It is during this period when the world first experienced Japan. It is also the time the Asian country gave in to the demands of the colonial masters following the bombing of its two major cities (Huffman 26). The two cities bombed by the western colonial masters were Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Following the bombings, Japan allowed the western colonial masters to extend their rule over its people. The author gives an in-depth analysis of how imperialism shaped Japan in terms of economic development, technological growth and adaptation, as well as improvement of its political system (Huffman 29). The reading provides detailed, reliable, and informative facts about Japan’s history during the period covered.

I would recommend this reading to anyone interested in learning how Japan has managed to remain resilient in its efforts to become a global powerhouse. The period covered by this reading has all the right information on what shaped Japan’s economic and political agendas.

Theoretical and Topical Approach of the Author in the book

The theoretical approach applied by the author is one that explains the concept of imperialism and how it helped to shape Japan’s development strategies. The main topic in the reading is imperialism, which the author believes motivated Japan to economic and political development.

Because of foreign policy influence, Japan was able to develop effective policies for economic development, as well as create an inclusive political system that focused on improving the welfare of all citizens (Huffman 41). In addition, the author explains how the concept of imperialism helped Japan to amplify its borders.

Expansion of administrative borders helped Japan to enhance its resource capacity that was influential in development of better technologies.

In the reading, the author gives an example of the city of Hokkaido, where residents benefited from technical institutions set up to develop their farming practices through better technologies (Huffman 45). Other cities benefited from hosting military camps for colonial missions in other regions and countries across the Asian continent.

Imperialism helped to empower the people of Japan economically, through their various projects and missions. The author uses an interactive approach to explain the concept of imperialism, and how it helped Japan to develop an inclusive political system. The influence of foreign policy made Japan open up to the idea of developing relations with other countries.

This resulted in the signing development agreements with other countries that also built embassies in the country (Huffman 49). According to the author, these developments played a crucial role in Japan’s expedition to economic independence and better international trade relations.

Key Concepts: Main Empirical and Theoretical Concepts

The author presents four important concepts throughout the reading. The four concepts are victimization, foreign policy, patriotism, and contemporary foreign policy. The author defines colonialism as the strategy of victimizing people from outside one’s self-governing boarders through possession and control (Huffman 63).

The other concept presented by the author is foreign policy, which refers to instances where a country aggressively extends its authority over other people by imposing its policies on them (Huffman 66). The author uses Japan, a victim of foreign policy to expound on this concept.

Patriotism is another concept present in the reading. The author defines patriotism as the commitment that people show towards their nation by supporting its various interest areas and cultural practices that define its identity. However, the author warns that patriotism can take either a positive course or a negative course, depending on policy frameworks used by a government (Huffman 68).

The final concept presented in the reading is contemporary foreign policy. The author explains this concept as a strategy that is applied by influential western nations to acquire more colonies in Africa and Asia.

Summary of Argument to the Reading

Japan and Imperialism 1853-1945 is a book that presents many interesting, informative, and knowledgeable realities about Japan (Huffman 2). The book has few pages, which means that the author has not extensively covered the history of Japan. The author addresses various elements of Japan’s history, albeit in very diminutive detail.

The main arguments presented in the reading by the author focus on imperialism, colonization, opening up of Japan to the rest of the world, impacts of foreign policy and victimization on Japan’s development agenda (Huffman 53). Other arguments developed in the reading talk about how Japan dealt with World War II and the economic depression.

Data and Evidence Presented

The author applies a variety of data to present the concept of imperialism in Japan’s history. The data comprises narratives about influential individuals from western colonies, who contributed towards guiding Japan’s development agenda (Huffman 17). The references used are quite reliable, as they come from credited sources such as novels and journals.

The author also uses data from articles printed following research studies by Ivy League institutions, such as Stanford University and the University of Washington (Huffman 79). The use of reliable data has made the book a worthy read and a legitimate reference for future studies.

Validity of Accounts and Arguments in the Reading

The author uses a very persuasive style of writing, which validates the arguments developed in the reading. Although the narrative is not long enough, the author has managed to provide accurate data that convinces the reader.

The use of reliable and easily accessible sources further validates information provided in the reading. This provides an opportunity for a reader to do further reading on various concepts and theories applied in the reading (Huffman 79). I can confidently say that the book is valid and convincing enough for any reader who wants a reliable source on Japan’s history.

Strengths and Limitations of the Reading

Imperialism and Japan 1853-1945, is an amazing book that provides an interesting summary of Japan’s rich history in few pages. The four concepts developed in the reading are sufficient in providing the reader with necessary information on the subject (Huffman 10).

Clear elaboration of concepts and theories in the book makes it easy and interesting for the reader to have deep understanding of its content. Use of chronology, endnotes, and a detailed timeline makes the reading to stand out and appealing to a reader. I would highly recommend this book to anybody interested in learning Japan’s rich history.

Works Cited

Huffman, James. Japan and Imperialism: 1853-1945. New York: Association for Asian Studies, 2010. Print.

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"Japan and Imperialism 1853-1945 by James Huffman." IvyPanda, 15 Sept. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/japan-and-imperialism-1853-1945-by-james-huffman/.

1. IvyPanda. "Japan and Imperialism 1853-1945 by James Huffman." September 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/japan-and-imperialism-1853-1945-by-james-huffman/.


IvyPanda. "Japan and Imperialism 1853-1945 by James Huffman." September 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/japan-and-imperialism-1853-1945-by-james-huffman/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Japan and Imperialism 1853-1945 by James Huffman." September 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/japan-and-imperialism-1853-1945-by-james-huffman/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Japan and Imperialism 1853-1945 by James Huffman'. 15 September.

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