Response to On De-Asianization by Fukuzawa Yukichi

The concepts brought about by Yukichi in his writing seek to recognise the change in his country brought about through the influence of Western culture, both actively and subtly. It deals with the fact that Japan had to abandon it’s conceptions of itself and it’s place in the greater world in order to advance on a planet dominated by technologically advanced European empires. He purposefully recognizes how there was no other choice for his nation but to modernize emulating the West, because resistance to that concept would have just resulted in the island’s colonization, like had been done to most of the planet by these Empires. Thereby his nuanced understanding stems from the fact that through a self started modernisation, which involved multiple factors like an overthrowal of the old shogunate and the opening up of education to the masses, Japan was able to actively take a role in what it’s future would be. By having the choice of altering the parts of the culture they wish to sustain while phasing out the aspects that could no longer function in a modern state, they were able to forge their own empire in a Western dominated world instead of being those oppressed by it.

He then contrasts a modern Japanese nation-state to the countries of China and Korea in order to articulate what could have possibly happened to Japan had they not taken the active steps to dramatically change their society. Yukichi states that both countries are too held back by their beliefs in ancient systems like confucianism and through that too held to it’s concepts of “civility” and “humanity” to the point where it gives them an arrogance, which fuels their wish to remain static. He insinuates that in a Western dominated world, it is unsustainable to maintain that line of thought and also maintain an independence. He then further laminates on how each of those countries pushes a perception of Japanese backwardness on Westerners because of their close proximity, striking out against China and Korea for their backwardness but doesn’t try and critique the West for combining these vastly different nations under one banner. His lack of critique for the West is manifested again and again in this piece which shows a lack of depth in reasoning why Japan had to be pushed in the first place, just understanding that is the current state of affairs rather than seeking to criticize it.

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