East Asia in the 20th Century

Imperialism changed Eastern Asia as we know it. Western Europe’s influence created a vacuum in power as they profited off of a weakening China. This void filled by a growing Japan that wanted to separate itself from China and Korea to modernize and prevent European powers from taking advantage of them. Japan saw the results of a declining Qing China after the Opium Wars, unfair trade deals, and internal conflicts and wanted to ensure they would not become a victim of it. Japan also began to grow their army. East Asia had been struggling with their own conflicts, but Western Europe brought their own wars to the area.

This mass enrollment in Japanese schools was effective as both boys and girls were to attend. Though as individuals from China and Korea attended their schools and learned western ideas such as socialism and anarchism, they began to become radicalized. Upon their return to their homeland, they began to question the authority of the Japanese control and started terroristic attacks and events like the Boxer Rebellion. This structure is very similar to the imperialistic nations controlled by Europe. Japan felt they had the authority to control China and Korea but also educated them in their ‘modern society’ yet still seeing these two nations as lesser. The Japanese military began to take advantage of on Korean and Chinese women and use them for their bodies. One women Kimiko Kaneda said “I felt as if we were taken here to be killed” (Testimony of former Comfort Woman, Kimiko Kaneda (South Korea)). This disrespect for humanity led to even more social unrest between Japan and Korea and China as more civil unrest occurred.

Japan and China entered World War II with the Nanjing Massacre where Japanese military men killed and raped many people of Nanjing. This dark moment in Japanese and Chinese history shows how their already natural national conflicts were amplified with the presence of European ideas of modern society and contradictory views of a government’s power.

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