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What has changed in relations between the state, society and the individual in Japan since 1800?

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State, Society and the Individual in the Non-Western World: What has changed in relations between the state, society and the individual in Japan since 1800? In the modern world of the Twentieth century, Japan is perceived as being one of the most thriving and prosperous democracies along with Britain and the United States of America. Most people considered them to be at the forefront of technological advancement but it is also viewed as having retained a long, esteemed and proud imperial history and many unique traditions and the people of Japan take great pride in this uniqueness. However, many of the 'unique' features of modern day Japan have been borrowed from the rest of the world over the last two millenniums and great changes have occurred over the last two hundred years in particular. From the end of the Tokugawa or Edo period in the early 1800's up to the present day the lives of the Japanese population have changed in regard to the intellectual and religious trends of them as individuals and the economic and political development of Japan as a country. The changes regarding how the country is ruled, the function of religion and family, and the relationship between the individual and the state have all had a great impact on the Japanese society and changed the relationships of the different factors within the society. It is important to understand the origins of Japan before we deal with what has changed. The origins of Japanese civilization are buried in legend and myth, with the first written records regarding the country being written in the 6th century A.D. These records were written after Japan had borrowed the Chinese writing system. ...read more.


It is often viewed that it came to late to share with the other foreign religions within Japan. However, Christianity still has a major influence over Japanese culture due to the modern foreign influences and westernisation that has occurred. The department stores are decorated and prominently feature Christmas as well as many Christian schools being in operation. There is also such a demand for Christian wedding chapels and weddings that many hotels now have them built in to cater for the demand. The major reason that it is considered that Christianity will not become a major religion is because it would be seen by the Japanese as turning their backs on traditional Japanese culture such as the Japanese ethos as shown in Shinto and the family as shown in Buddhism and Confucianism. In conclusion, it appears that religion does affect the Japanese individual but in a subtle, less obvious way than their western counterpart. It seems that the religious beliefs that appear in the Japanese individual and the changes are ingrained in Japanese culture from birth. In this, it shows that not much has overly changed in religion since the original Shinto religion in the origins of Japan. The second major point of change in Japan has been that of the family structure and role. Traditionally the Japanese family has been a large group of extended family and the family rather than the individual is considered to be the basic unit of society. The family continues to play an important part in Japanese society today. However, the modern family is not the same as the traditional family and has developed in relation to economic and social factors. ...read more.


The new constitution created a government that was authoritarian in principal but the emperor still had most of the power and not much credence was given to the democratic process. This constitution would remain law until after the Second World War when the Allies helped to rewrite a very Westernised constitution. This next constitution that was implemented in 1947 was a result of the Potsdam Conference. It was a change from Japan's previous political process, although the final constitution was more of an amendment of the 1889 version than a total rewriting. The new constitution was based on the fundamental principles of Western democracy such as freedom of speech and freedom from persecution. In a final conclusion of what has changed within Japan affecting the state, society and the individual it is apparent that many of the changes are a natural progression to more freedom of the individual rather than control by the state. This has occurred all around the world throughout the ages and although many systems have not kept the more democratic principles, it appears that Japan has although they may have been forced after the Second World War. The lives of Japan's citizens have certainly changed and I feel this is due to the increased integration with the Western and developed world after many trade barriers were forcibly remover by America in the lat 19th century. Although this may have had a negative affect initially I feel that it benefited the Japanese people as a whole. In conclusion, I feel that the increased Westernisation of Japan has brought about the changes that have affected many generations of Japanese people. What has changed in relations between the state, society and the individual in Japan since 1800? Page 1 ...read more.

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