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History of China and Japan (1840-1949)
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Q. 1. Discuss the causes of Taiping revolution.

Ans. Background: As happened usually, after a long period of Ch’ing rule, growing cases of peasant
dissatisfaction, administrative corruption led to economic and social crises, which could be the reasons for
the declination of any dynasty. In this chapter, the stress was given on the conditions of the South China
around 1840, in which the foundation of Taiping Rebellion laid down. The Taiping Rebellion was a massive
popular uprising in the mid-19th century, but the anti-Manchu sentiments were not new for the South China.
The region of South China remained always a difficult to rule for the Manchu rulers. Its location and the
distance from the capital Peking was one of the major reasons to find difficult to control it. The hilly areas
and the hard conditions of frontier life contributed to the formation of different groups with armed forces for
their protection. Inspite of this, Opium Wars, foreign presence, the presence of varied racial communities
contributed to lawless conditions and the establishment of secret societies like the Triads (Tien Ti Hui)
particularly in the province of Kwangsi and Kwangtung. The major reason of the social tension in these
regions was the conflicts between the original settlers (known as Penti) and the migrated people from the
North during 12th centuries (known as Hakka). The founder of Taiping Movement, Hung Hsiu-chuan belonged
to Hakka community.
From the early 19th century, the Western intrusion played an important role in spreading the chaotic
conditions through the opium trade. This illegal trade had involved many local people creating a disruptive
condition. After the treaty of Nanking, the foreign trade shifted from this place to Shanghai, due to which
many people had lost their jobs and most of them turned to banditry and navy piracy for their livelihood.
Because of the treaty, the native handicraft industry also affected badly and replaced by the foreign goods.
Inspite of Hakka, the other followers of Taiping movement was the coolies, the boatmen, the handicrafts
workers, who had lost their jobs other than the peasantry class.
In order to pay indemnity the Ch’ing rulers imposed many taxes resulted into increased burden on peasantry
class. The dissatisfaction among the working class compelled them to stand against high taxation, soaring
prices, increasing rent and growing corruption. These conditions gave rise to secret societies like the Tien Ti



Hui. The important struggles of 1840s were the uprising under the control of Triads leader Lei Tsai Hao and the
revolt under the leadership of Chang Chia-hsiang, Chen Ya Kuai and Li Yuan-fa in the regions of Kwangsi and
Kwangtung. These led the foundation for the Taiping Revolution.
The Taiping Organization And Programme: In its organization, programme, military strength and
vision, the Taiping movement represented a progressive character that distinguished it from the earlier
movements. Obviously, Hung Hsiu-chuan was considered as the ‘Heavenly King’, but the power was shared
by the four other people, the most prominent early converts. There were 5 Kings. Among them the four
named after the four directions and the 5th was known as the “Assistant King”. The family was considered
as the basic unit and groups of families were organized into military divisions. Each member of the family
contributed in his own way like making bamboo spikes, cooking meal, cultivating land etc. Besides the
battle, the leaders accompanied them in social and religious gathering also. All the resources, property and
products were meant for communal ownership, to be enjoyed by all on equal basis.
The Land System: The document called “The Land System of the Heavenly Kingdom” contained all
the programme, rules and regulations relating to land. The basic idea was that all the people have equal
rights to sustain on land. They abolished the feudal system by abolishing the private property. They divided
all the land in 9 categories according to the quality. After 16 years of age every person got a right to receive
the share from the cultivation of the land. Any extra produce will be accumulated to the collective pool.
Although, this practice was not new for China, yet it did not implement in proper way, during earlier period.
The power of landlords was abolished in Taiping regions.


The Position of Women: In Taiping organization, the women were treated equally as men. They formed
a part of the army and even held some respectable position. Hung’s sister was the commander of the women
army. Separate residential places for women i.e. Nu-Kuan were opened for residing the young girls and the
widows of those killed in battle. These practices helped in abolishing the foot-binding, prostitution, polygamy
and showed the respectable attitude of Taiping towards womanhood. The Taipings also abolished slavery,
gambling, smoking, drinking etc.
Handicrafts and Trade: The handicrafts workers were encouraged by the Taipings in order to fulfil
their need of products useful for army purpose. The initials efforts were made for abolishing the trade and
commerce, but after realizing its necessity, attempts were made to centralize the commercial activities. The
merchants after buying the license, could trade in the market outside the capital. The rate of tax on trade was
very low in comparison to that of Ch’ing areas.
The Taiping movement was remarkable in many ways. From its religious character to its communal
based programmes, it always retained necessary elements of its origins. The ideas, it owed were truly
revolutionary. The idealistic programmes of Taipings for the leaders and for the masses distinguished it
from the other uprisings.
Q. 2. What led to modernization in Japan?

Ans. The Nature of the Meiji Political System: The guiding principles of the Meiji political system,
which carried the necessary changes to build a modern nationstate, were based on the slogan, “rich country,
strong army” (fukoku kyohei). This slogan gave an idea about the thought of Meiji oligarchy. They wanted
to preserve the identity and strength of Japan in front of Western powers threat by molding it in a wealthy
and prosperous nation. They also wanted a strong army force for Japan. In order to achieve these goals they
carried out a process of centralization of power.



The Emperor: In Japanese tradition, the Emperor had religious significance. In Meiji period, the Emperor
was the key figure of the political system but could not exercise power for personal use. In fact, we can say
that the Emperor was the source of power. Thus, often historians describe the Meiji period as “emperor
system absolutism”. Although, during Tokugawa period, the Emperor was powerless, yet he was the central
figure in Japanese culture. The Meiji leaders presented the Emperor as the “axis of nation” with the divine
image. From 1878-85, the Emperor designed six great circuits of the nation providing information about his
offers to direct Imperial rule and thus, dismissed the myth about monarchical government.
The Meiji leaders used the image of Emperor for the political ends and at the same time involved him in
several shortcuts very cautiously. In expressive phrases, the Emperor was regarded as the above the politics.
Mori Arinori described the Emperor in his words as, “peerless capital, the greatest possible treasure in the
enterprise of fostering loyalty and patriotism.” According to Goto Yasushi, the development of Emperor
System was divided into three periods:
1. (1868 to 1884) i.e. the formation of the basic features of the system.
2. (1885 to 1895) i.e. the implementation of the system.
3. (1895 to 1905) i.e. the restructuring of the system.
The bureaucracy and the military were the strength of the system.


Bureaucracy: By the period of 1872, the new government had formed its bureaucratic structure, in
which 15 categories of bureaucrats were created in hierarchical order. These were broadly divided into three
main groups, first two were direct imperial appointee and were treated differently even under law. People
from the various social classes were allowed to become bureaucrats according to the policy of recruitment.
A very small percentage of noble and samurai were allowed to become bureaucrats, which signified the
power of the officials on the basis of their talent not because of their birth. The military and the bureaucrats
were answerable to the Emperor. The establishment of political institutions and political activities were not
permeable as a legitimate right. They were assumed to be responsible for creating division among people for
their selfish interest.
The Meiji Emperor died in 1912 and his reigon recognized as the transition from the closed isolated
country to a modern nation power. The constitutional structure and the parliament (Diet) got able to assert
some authority over the ruling oligarchy, though hesitatingly. All the main institutions and ministries worked
under the Emperor. The army became the dominant force by 1930s.
The Initial Phase of Economic Development: The period from 1868 to 1885 was the time during
which the government prepared the base for the economic development. The political pressure compelled
them for the development of defence industries, shipyards and iron foundries. The government encouraged
the manufacturing of goods by introducing new technologies in order to control the expenditure on the
import items. In the agriculture sector also, they provide the revenue for the growth and development. A
survey made in 1874 gave an idea about the economy of that time, which was still undeveloped in comparison
to the economies of Western countries.
Matsukata Kasayashi became Finance Minister in 1881. Because of tackling the problem of inflation
and drain of specie, he reduced the circulation of currency by increasing the specie backing. As a consequence,
it helped in strengthening the business areas and availability of the resources in the modern sector. The
recession in the economy badly affected the tenants and the small farmers. Some scholars argued that some
more efforts must be made like reduction in consumption to increase the growth rate.



Q. 3. Discuss the early nineteenth century crisis in China.
Ans. After the 1911 Revolution, the new Government of Chinese Republic was established in Nanking
with Sun Yat-Sen as President on Jan 1, 1912, but Yuan Shi Kai, a former Commander of Manchu Forces
created obstruction and Sun had to resign in favour of Yuan. Before surrendering his presidentship, Sun took
promise of the establishment of Legislative Assembly in favour of cabinet form government in order to
check on Yuan’s personal ambition to become China’s ruler. Sun was also aware about the fact his associative
parties had majority in the assembly. The Republican regime of Peking started functioning from April 1,
1912 and lasted till 1928, but it reality there was no republic system.
Yuan proposed the name of Tang Shoi-yi as the Premier according to the recent Provisional Constitution.
Tang was associated with Yuan and the Kuomintang Revolutionaries. The approval of name of Tang by the
assembly hoped for the good beginning. But Yuan was having sufficient military forces with full backing of
army commanders of New Army, hence after the formation of cabinet, Yuan began to oppose the policies
suggested by Tang. Yuan’s uncooperative attitude compelled the Tang to quit the Cabinet. After that each
cabinet was consists of Yuan’s followers and the Legislative Assembly continuously provided him support
in order to avoid any disputes. During the election of 1912-13, Kuomintang got the opportunity to defeat
Yuan in peaceful manner and they won with the majority in both the houses and their leader, Sung Chiao-jen
was killed by Yuan at the Shanghai Railway Station. The whole nation got shocked with this incident. At the
same time, Yuan took the loan from the foreign bank and announce about it in order to divert the people’s
reaction. For Yuan, the reason behind the loan was the need of to recognize his government by the foreign
powers. Foreign powers also gave preference to him for many reasons.


The assassination of Sung united all the members of Kuomintang against Yuan. Thus in July 1913, they
protested in the Southern provinces, the region they controlled. But Yuan was able to suppress the movement
with backing of the foreign powers. He declared himself as president of China for life and announced for the
restoration of monarchy system as he wanted to become an Emperor. He made changes accordingly in the
Provisional Constitution. At the same time, Yuan Shi Kai was presented an ultimatum by Japan in the form
of infamous Twenty One Demands. The actions of Yuan led the whole country including Revolutionaries
and Moderate Progressive against him. The slogan of this campaign was “Protection of the Republic’. The
intensity of the movement forced him to terminate all his monarchical decrees by March, 1916. The chapter
of Yuan was came to an end with his death in June 1916.
The prospects of establishing Republic in China after the 1911 Revolution, despite of instatement of
Sun Yat as a president marred by the Yuan’s ambition to become an Emperor of China. Yuan Shi Kai was a
former Commander of Manchu Forces and the founder of the New Army. Yuan became the President and
proposed Tang Shao-Yi as head of the Premier. Tang became the Premier but Yuan’s uncooperative attitude
compelled the Tang to quit the cabinet. After that the members of the cabinet was consists of Yuan’s followers
and the Legislative Assembly continuously provided him support in order to avoid any disputes. During the
election of 1912-13, Sung Chiao-jen was selected as the cabinet head with the majority in both the houses,
but he was killed by Yuan. It led the social and political disorder in all over the country. The Revolutionaries
and the Progressive liberals all were united against Yuan and the revolt started. Yuan anyhow suppressed the
movement. All the above situations described the reasons for political instability in China during 19111916 period.
Q. 4. Discuss the economy of the Tokugawa period.



Ans. The long reign of Tokugawa dynasty was responsible for the peace and political stability for very
long time in Japan but the centralized bureaucracy led some social changes also. Due to urbanization, and
increase in commercial and artisanal activities, the social relations began to change and hereditary status
began to suffer setbacks. These changes symbolized the change in economy and society of the Tokugawa
Because of the settlement of the population in commercial centres, the Samurai began to lose their hold
on population. The merchant class emerged as an important class and their economical conditions had
improved. Some of the merchants had more assets than the Daimyo. These influential merchants were
provided the monopoly overbanking, credit and other financial functions. Because of the improvement in
communication and productivity, some merchants initiated the inter-regional trade. The active commerce
helped the farmers to grow as a businessman by the 18th century and many Daimyo seeks financial helps
from these new capitalist. However, the Bakufu maintained the control over merchants by developing stateindustry ties and imposing different taxes payable in the form of money. Only Tokugawa house had rights
over minting coins but some Daimyo were allowed to print paper money for the local use only. The value of
the coin was assigned on it.
Because of labour shortage in cities, many poor labourers got shifted from rural areas to urban centres to
earn money. Although, better farming techniques, and better tools helped in the better economy of certain
regions, but the growth was uneven and mostly landlords or rich farmers got benefitted by this. The
dissatisfaction among the peasant class and the impact of famine caused disturbance and peasant revolt
against the government particularly after 1750. According to some scholars, there was overall growth during
Tokugawa period, but the lack of paying attention towards the peasant class created imbalance.


Q. 5. Describe the Meigi constitution

Ans. Constitutional Government Under Meiji Oligarchy: Despite of not believing in democratic
structure, the Meiji government laid the foundation for a Constitutional government. The reason for this antidemocratic thinking was the fear of spreading social and political chaos. Still the Meiji government drafted the
constitution. The proper democratic practice started much later when the cabinet with the majority formed in
the lower house during the general elections in 1924. Thus from 1924 onwards to May 1933, the Prime Ministers
belonged to the majority in the lower house. The reason for the long period of establishing the principles of the
majority in the lower house will be discussed in the following section.
Formation of Political Parties: According to the many scholars, the roots of Japan success and
development regarding to the modernization were hidden since very early period during the Tokugawa
reign. Despite of having undemocratic political structure, the Tokugawa Shogun did not rule like the tyrant
dictator but like a depersonalized source of power involving the use of deliberation. Although this practice
was limited to the small areas, but because of this, Japan could became able to adopt the framework of
constitutional government. According to a scholar, Irokawa, the ideas of democracy got developed through
the popular movement during the Tokugawa period because of creating the wave of political consciousness
among the common people. Despite of their failure, these movements helped in constructing the tradition to
stress on their demands for a popularly elected assembly.
At the time of Meiji Restoration, various political groups were formed in order to demand for constitutional
government. But Meiji government preferred to establish the centralized political structure so as to control
social pressure, but still they provided a constitutional system with a considerable autonomy for each political
group. Meiji State was more interested in securing the sovereignty of the Emperor rather than to protect the



liberty of the people. In order to coordinate these political institutions, hanbatsu or oligarchy, consisted of
the leaders of Meiji Restoration, emerged as a powerful source. Most of the members of the bureaucrats, the
army, the Privy Council and the House of Peers belonged to two primarily han, Satsuma and Choshu and
responsible for the transformation from the Tokugawa to Meiji system. Many of these members like Ito
Hirobumi, Inoue, Kaoru tried to form their own political parties, but were opposed by the majority.
During the period just before the circulation of the constitution, there were two major groups, which
laid the foundation of first parties. Over the question of favouring the invasion of Korea, Itagaki resigned the
Meiji government in 1873. He formed the Public Party of Patriots along with his supporters and demanded
for the democratically elected national assembly. It was renamed and became the Liberal Party (Jiyuto) in
1881. The Jiyuto got the support of former Samurai and the rural elite. But due to some violent incidents, the
party was splitted and then reformed as the Constitutional Liberal Party (Rikken Jiyuto) after the general
election of 1890.
Because of his quick efforts for the convention of an elected assembly, Okuma Shigenobu was compelled
to resign from the Meiji government in 1881. He supported the British model of parliamentary system and
formed the Constitutional Reformed Party (Rikken Kaishinto) after resigning for propagating the ideas of
democratic reforms. Urban middle class people supported this party. Okuma left the party during the
suppression made by government. Later on this party emerged as the second important party, Progressive
Party (Shimpoto). Another party, the Constitutional Imperial Rule Party, consisted of more conservative
members, opposed these parties. In Nov., 1890, the first Diet was established. But because of the tussle
between the parties, pro-government groups and oligarchic group, many problems arose. The lower house
was controlled by parties and upper house of peers was by oligarchy. Thus the efforts were made to form
mutual alliances and the first party cabinet was formed in 1898.


Interest Groups and Political Parties: Meiji government wanted the party government to represent
factional interest and the cabinets to represent national interest. Due to this changing attitude of Meiji
oligarchy, political parties became lenient towards them modified their position in the government. For
example, Itagaki (former of Jiyuto) became Home Minister in Ito Hirobumi government. But the anti-oligarchic
people opposed it and proposed Yamagata to assist them. The cabinet was composed of mainly the people
from the Satsuma or Choshu han. Ito (Choshu ) did not successful to form the cabinet because of the resistence
of hanbatsu. Finally, the Kenseito formed the first party cabinet as the party had absolute majority in the
lower house. The position of party was weak as there were two groups over the question of raising tax. The
increase in taxes was required in order to meet military expanse. The differences increased and the party
collapsed within the four months, which proved the vulnerability of the association. However, urban
businessmen and elite class began to play an important role in the configuration and for setting the aim of
parties. Inspite of showing their opposition towards the hanbatsu, the political parties compromised them at
the time of need. They were divided over the question of regional and personal interests. Another limitation
was that the parties were not allowed to send its representative in the House of Peers, thus often had to face
opposition from the oligarchy. Due to the lowering of tax qualification under the revision of electoral law,
the more of the urban population became eligible for voting.
In order to support his argument that the government should form its own party for controlling the lower
house, Ito Hirobumi formed the Friends of the Constitutional Government party in 1900. He was opposed by
Yamagata and other Meiji leaders. Thus among the Seiyukai, the Yamagata group and the Kenseihonto,
there was continuous struggle for the political power. Katsura Taro, a member of the Yamagata faction,
owned the power from 1904 to 1912 and later became head of the Seiyukai. The role of Seiyukai leader,



Hara Takashi was important for making the party a strong organization. He joined the hands with Yamagata
faction and forwarded the “positive policy”. Hara compelled the government to spend in communication
networks, railway lines, maintenance of harbours etc. in order to win the support of local finance investors.
It helped a lot to increase the influence of Seiyukai in all over Japan. He also obtained the support of some
members of the house of peers, but he did not support the demand of universal voting rights so as to avoid
the fear of popular pressure. While many intellectual, labour and party leaders were supporting this demand.
Soon Seiyukai emerged as the largest party in the general elections. But the opposition party took the help of
the issue of universal voting rights against Seiyukai. Due to the lack of stability and consistency, there
existed conflicts between the Seiyukai and the Yamagata faction and resulted into the downfall of the party
during the Taisho political crisis. Some scholars sought it as the mutual understanding between the government
and the political parties to work in a commonly accepted atmosphere. The party leaders of communist party
did not take radical measures but worked within the Meiji system.
Q. 6. write an essay on the Cultural Movement in China.
Ans. The New Setting: Although, the Chinese were witnessed about termination of dynasties, followed
by revolution and disorder many times, yet in 1911, the overthrown of Ch’ing dynasty was different for
many reasons. Since then, the monarchical system was completely abolished from the chapters of China. As
the consequences, the old institutional structure including the family, the gentry, the clan etc., was becoming
weak and instead urbanization, development of business enterprises, new system of education, struggle for
women independence etc., changes were taking place. As political power was governed by the military,
there were no strong hope for change, but Cultural Revolution was increasing. This cultural transformation
took the excited shape during 1911-19 period. This transformation began to challenge the old, traditional
ideology of China i.e. Confucianism. The earlier reforms including the reforms of 20th century that tried to
change China within the Confucian framework, did not bring actual changes that were required. Thus,
without changing Confucian orthodoxy, revolutionary changes in Chinese societies were not possible.


Confucianism And Traditional Chinese Society: In this section, we will discuss those ideas and beliefs
of Confucianism, which were responsible to criticize the ideology of Confucianism. According to the
Confucianism ideology, older generation was given preference over youth, past over present, men over women,
authority over subject and society over individual in order to maintain harmony and order in the society. The
position of Emperor, son of Heaven, was supreme, who was morally bound to rule over people. Confucian
ideology did not provide any right to the women. They were not given the formal education and had no role in
the society. Chinese women suffered suppression for centuries. The social evils like foot binding, Bride-price
and child marriage added to their deteriorating conditions. The Confucian values demanded complete devotion
of younger generation to older. Even after the death of father, the son had to pay gratitude in rituals and
ceremonies done periodically. These rituals hampered the personal development and advancement by making
young men timid and fearful. The illiteracy was another result of Confucian based ideology. The written
language of traditional Chinese system of education was in classic Chinese (Wen yan), which was very different
from the spoken language (Bai Hua) and demand much time to understand. As a result, the poor working class
could not afford it. The contents od educations also limited to some classics of earlier periods. Hence cramming
power was given preference even in civil services exams also. The imposing of Confucianism on the weaker
section was the main reason for its long time survival.



Q. 7. (a) Ideologies of expansion in Japan
Ans. The First World War showed very clearly that many Japanese leaders, ultra-nationalist, various
patriotic societies and ideologues were interested in carrying the expansionist policy. The different societies
had propogated their view like:
1. The Genyosha (Dark Ocean Society) was formed by the supporters of Saigo Tokomari and strongly
favoured the expansionist policy.
2. Another ultra-nationalist society was Kokuryukai (Black Dragon Society) founded by Uchida Ryohei.
According to him Japan led the Asian countries against the European powers in order to get freedom.
3. The post-World War-I societies were Koku Suikai (Japan National Essence Society) and Kokuhonsha
(National Foundation Society). Many military officers were the members of these types of societies.
The objective of these societies was to save Japan from Socialism.
Some of the supports of expansionist policy had more agrarian view in order to protect agrarian society.
Kita Ikkai advocated the policy for controlling the powers of rich capitalists. Some of the expansionist felt
that, Japan needed a “Showa Restoration” just as the Meiji Restoration. according to the view of Nagata
Tetsuzan and Tojo Hideki Japan must expand its territories in order to meet the challenges by gearing up the
economy and the Japanese population. Ishiwara Kanji had prepared the plan of the series of fight against
Russia, then Britain and then the US in order to avoid barriers created by them.
(b) Sun-Yat-Sen


Ans. Sun Yet-Sen (1866-1925) was the supporter of immediate radical political changes and believes
that China was ready for it at this juncture. He wanted the abolition of Ch’ing rule as well as the abolition of
imperial institution. He advocated the adoption of new political structure in the form of republic. A great
admirer of Taipings and other secret societies, he established the Hsing Chung Hui (Revive China Society).
He was educated in Honolulu and Hong Kong and was trained as Western style Doctor. Besides getting the
support of secret societies and Chinese youth, he also obtained the financially support from the overseas
Chinese communities, which admitted that Ch’ing were the main obstacle in the economic growth of China.