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Tokugawa Japan and Qing China State Structure Comparison Essay

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Updated: May 25th, 2020

To begin with, Qing China is known to have benefited heavily from the collapse of the Ming dynasty (Rowe 34). In other words, Qing China came into power after 1644 when the Ming dynasty failed to sustain its rule. It took several advantages out of the failure of the Ming dynasty. Second, Qing China was also comprised of the Manchu people. These were largely non-Chinese settlers located in the northern region. In addition, their traditions were heavily borrowed from Ming cultural practices (Rowe, 73).

The traditions of this dynasty hardly welcomed external ideas. The Manchu people were highly reserved, and as a result, they confined themselves to deep traditions without embracing foreign ideas. It is also vital to mention that the dynasty never allowed any trading activities among its people. Trading among members of Qing China was only permitted to a very limited extent. In terms of administration, only the educated elites were allowed to govern in different positions. For example, the eunuchs and Confucian scholars were tasked with the role of running the daily affairs of the government.

The relationship between Qing China and Europeans was eventually ended. Perhaps, this was attributed to the fact that the dynasty hardly accommodated external ideologies and lifestyles.

On the other hand, Tokugawa Japan came into existence after the rival between samurai and feudal lords was concluded (Mason 190). In 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu gained the total leadership of the dynasty. He assumed the second most powerful position after the Emperor. He was also referred to as the shogun. Due to the powerful nature of the shogun, most of the internal affairs of Japan were strictly controlled by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Unlike the Qing China, Tokugawa Japan was finally made accessible by the outside world. This took place in the 19th century. The Americans compelled the opening of Tokugawa Japan. It was apparent that Europeans were never taken seriously by the Muslim Empires (Mason 204). This was one of the reasons that made it easy for the Europeans to open up Japan to external influence.

In terms of legacy, China ended up as a victim nation for close to half a century. It can be recalled that the country was initially in the position of world preeminence. In contrast, Japan became an Imperialist nation after a long wave of struggle. For a long time, all the advances from Europeans were dismissed by China. It retained this level of arrogance largely due to fear of external influence. Nonetheless, this was not the case with Tokugawa Japan. The latter gave some attention to the advances made by the Europeans (Smitka 87). A case in point was the adoption of the western Dutch learning known as Rangaku. In clearer terms, Tokugawa Japan embraced a more liberal leadership than Qing China, which was mainly conservative in its governance principles (Rowe 102).

Finally, the Qing’s dynasty Emperor was a key religious figure referred to as the Son of Heaven. He held special heavenly powers even though he was a human being. Traditional religions in China had a special place in society and were never eroded by any external influence. However, Tokugawa Japan was eventually influenced by Dutch settlers after resisting foreign Christian religion for a long time. The anti-Christian campaigns by the Tokugawa Japan were overwhelmed, especially when Americans found their way into the dynasty.

Works Cited

Mason, Richard. A History of Japan: Revised Edition. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 1997. Print.

Rowe, William. China’s Last Empire: The Great Qing. New York: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2009. Print.

Smitka, Michael. The Japanese Economy in the Tokugawa Era, 1600-1868. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

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