“JAPAN: A COUNTRY IN TURMOIL”
JAPAN’S HOT SPOT CONFLICTS AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
A term paper by
Rev. Fr. J.P. Hough, S.J.
of the faculty at
Jesuit High School
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the course of
World History (Honours)
Table of Contents
Table of Figures
The country of Japan has had a tumultuous, and at times tragic, history. Since its inception in 300 B.C. from hunters and gatherers, to its almost complete isolation from the rest of the world in the seventeenth century, to two atomic bomb attacks in World War Two, and the earthquake in 2011, Japan’s people have been tested again and again. PAGEREF _Ref351725146 Despite these many conflicts, Japan’s influence throughout the rest of the world can be seen in art, technology, business, and culture.
2 Ancient History
Japan is a much younger country that China. This means China has had more time to develop ideas of what their country should be like and how it should be run. When China came into Japan, they brought many things that were essential to Japan’s development as a nation. Before China came, Japan was only a country of rice farmers. This began in the fourth century. It was also a bunch of small groups of people united through farming and trade. With China’s help, Japan would eventually become one of the most technologically advanced countries.
A major contribution to Japan’s culture today is the system of government that China brought in. Japan lacked a strong central government. Through help from the Chinese, it developed an Imperial Court. It included titles, ranks, and functions, such as the uji, the leaders of the clans; the be, who are also the commoners; and the slaves, the lowest of the low. It was the uji’s job to protect the members of their clan. In return for their protection, the be give the uji food that they produce. The be are divided into two groups, however. The upper class be made cloth, pottery, or they brewed. The lower class be were the farmers. The upper class be also were the only ones who had slaves. PAGEREF _Ref351725146
There was conflict between clans. The Chinese brought Buddhism and Confucianism with them to Japan. Both of these religions influenced the Japanese clans. Each uji believed himself to be a descendant from a god and was given power to protect his clan through that god. The Yamato clan came to power through uniting clans. They believed that they were descendants of the sun goddess. They also believed that everyone was protected by their own god and the sun goddess. The Yamato’s became the leaders and government officials of Japan. They remained in power until their influence on the rest of Japan waned in 700 A.D.
The most important thing China brought was a written language. Before China came to Japan, the Japanese didn’t have a written language. They had and spoke their own language, but when the Chinese came, kanji was introduced. Kanji was the language that the Chinese at the time spoke. It was able to be written and was somewhat similar to Japanese. The Japanese borrowed some of its words and used it to be able to write their own language. This allowed them to record their history and beliefs.
Even though Confucianism made a greater impact on Japan’s government, Buddhism was more influential on Japan’s everyday culture. It brought new architecture and pottery. It also brought new art and music. It used these things in rituals of healing, protection, and wealth. Its most important impact was psychology, however. Monks taught inner awareness and sought out inner harmony. It had to rival the indigenous religion Kami. Buddhism finally prevailed and overthrew Kami as the religion of Japan in the late eighth century, the same time the Yamato clan fell from power.