The progress of Japan and China in the 17th century is characterized by the definite accomplishments and failures in the political, economic, and social life which influenced the further development of the countries.
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The period of the 17th century in the history of these two countries can be discussed as the shift to the era of the modern times which depends on the successes in the economic and social spheres, and they are also associated with the certain weaknesses in the states’ policies.
In spite of the fact the 17th century brought significant changes to all the aspects of the states’ growth, their effects were different for Japan and China in the context of the states’ independence and stability.
To analyze the features of the main accomplishments and failures of Japan and China in the fields of the political, economic, and social life, it is important to concentrate on the peculiarities of the historical processes in these countries.
The beginning of the 17th century in Japan can be discussed as the foundation of the principles of the country’s unification and consolidation as the main aspects of the state’s progress (Schirokauer et al., 2005). The period is connected with the development of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The first shogun was Ieyasu, and he made the major accents on maintaining stability in Japan with references to the strict hierarchical system which included the classes of daimyo, samurai, farmers, artisans, and traders. The next shoguns tried to strengthen the economic power of the state and also focused on controlling the social classes and providing the policy of the state’s isolation (Morton, Olenik, & Jansen, 2004).
Thus, the complete stability of the state became the reality during the rule of Tsunayoshi. That is why it is possible to determine such successes in the policies as the orientation to the strong and strictly regulated social hierarchy with the accents on daimyo as the main feudal lords and on the warrior class of samurai.
However, the peaceful period in the history of Japan made the class of samurai dependent on the other aspects of the social life instead of their military activity (Schirokauer et al., 2005). The situation resulted in significant riots and movements of the ronins which weakened the stability of the social structure.
It is significant to note that the realization of the successful policies and the definite achievements in the social and economic life in Japan in the 17th century are also connected with some weaknesses. Thus, the reform of the social structure caused the dissatisfaction of the classes in relation to the taxes and lands distribution.
Moreover, the policy of the effective support of the domestic economy and trade was expanded to the complete isolation of the country from the foreign contacts. However, the isolated character of the country’s development contributed to the progress of the unique culture with paying attention to the kabuki theaters and famous wood-block prints (Morton et al., 2004).
Japan and China in the 17th Century
|The Tokugawa Shogunate||The Qing dynasty|
|Ieyasu||– Unification |
– Strict hierarchical system
|Social life||– The samurai riots |
– The movements of ronins
– The impossibility to change the social status
|Politics||The expansion of the territories||Social life||Peasants’ rebellions|
|Iemitsu||Absolute control of the domestic trade and economy||Iemitsu||Trade isolation||Economy||Stability||Politics||War conflicts|
(the Genroku period)
|– Complete stability |
– Development of commerce
|Culture and Philosophy||Confucianism|
|Culture||– The kabuki theaters |
– Wood-block prints
If the main peculiarities of the history of Japan in the 17th century were based on the notion of stability, isolation, and peace, the population of the territory of China was involved in the prolonged war conflicts with the neighbors for new lands.
The 17th century is the period when the Ming dynasty was changed by the Qing dynasty as a result of the Manchus’ invasion (Keay, 2009). The whole century is characterized by the attempts of the Chinese people to weaken the rule of the Manchus and win their independence. The long conquest ended with accepting the Qing dynasty and its rules.
The main accomplishments of this period are associated with the successes of the dynasty’s leaders in invading the neighboring territories such as Mongolia and establishing the strong state in which the main accents were made on the progress of the military sphere and agriculture.
The feudal system was strengthened with the help of strict taxes, but peasants as the weakest class of the social structure passionately rebelled against the feudal system and diminished that level of stability which was developed during the reign of the Qing dynasty (Schirokauer et al., 2005). To contribute to uniting the social masses, the rulers paid attention to the development of the principles of Confucianism within the state.
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The long-term effects of the events of the 17th century for Japan are in the development of the unique culture during the period of isolation and the focus on the strict social structure. The period of the Qing dynasty in China resulted in the expansion of the ideas of Confucianism and concentration on the concept of the state and nation’s independence.
Keay, J. (2009). China: A history. USA: Basic Books.
Morton, W. S., Olenik, J. K., & Jansen, M. B. (2004). Japan: Its history and culture. USA: McGraw-Hill.
Schirokauer, C., Brown, M., Lurie, D., & Gay, S. (2005). A brief history of Chinese and Japanese civilizations. USA: Wadsworth Publishing.