Saturday, November 14, 2009

Timeline - Japanese History

This is just a ready reference, for the events leading Japan from a fragmented feudal entity to the modern nation-state of today.

~ 600AD – At the beginning of the seventh century, Empress Suiko sends a mission to the Sui court in China, with a memorial that began, “The offspring of heaven in the land where the sun rises offers a letter to the offspring of the heaven where the sun sets”. Perhaps the first attempt by Japan to address China on equal terms.

660 AD – Internally disunited Japan fears the specter of an expansive Tang empire in China that, in alliance with Japan’s old ememy, the Korean kingdom of Silla, destroys two other Korean kingdoms of Paekche and Koguryo.

672 AD – Silla in Korea breaks ties with Tang China and seizes control of the entire Korean peninsula…..Japan responds by borrowing Chinese central institutional models in a bid to strengthen itself.

1274 – First Mongol invasion – Kublai Khan against the Kamakura feudal government. A night after the battle of Hakata Bay (Nov. 19), a typhoon destroys the Mongol fleet (~200 ships) off the coast of Fukuoka.

1281 – Second Mongol invasion, again using hastily built Chinese ships. This time 100,000 of 140,000 men (~70%) are killed in a storm off Kyushu. The storms are christened Kamikaze (Divine Wind). The invasions forge a national identity; Militarist Rinzai Zen Buddhism of Hojo Tokimune and his Zen master Bukko, become popular.

1400's (15th Century) Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu accepts investiture by the Ming emperor and thus obtained sanction for a very profitable trade. The Shogun is criticized by the royalty.

After Yoshimitsu’s death his son – the next Shogun – discontinues relations with the Ming, almost prompting Emperor Cheng-tsu to attack Japan. The next Shogun restores diplomatic relations and official trade continues for more than a century before ending in 1547.

1467-1568: Warring States Period – complete breakdown of central authority.

1547 – Japan discontinues official trade with China

1600-1868: Tokugawa Era – Japan tries to establish its own international system by claiming a central position in East Asian sphere by asserting that the Ryukus, Korea, Siam and others were sending tributes to Japan. Peace is imposed by a coalition of feudal lords.

1641 - All Westerners are banished from Japan. For the next two centuries, Japan is free from Western influence, except for at the port of Nagasaki, which Japan allowed Dutch merchant vessels to enter on a limited basis.

1700’s – Industrial revolution begins in England

1700’s – Hideyoshi’s brief and abortive invasion of Korea in the 16th century (the first recorded instance of Japan's attempt at overseas’ conquest)

1813 – Kaiho Seiryo (Confucian scholar) comments that competition among domains had come to focus on trade in a zero-sum game akin to warfare.

1815 – The beginning of Pax Brittanica after the Napoleanic Wars. Napolean is defeated at Waterloo and now Britain emerged as the uncontested world superpower.

1836 - Henry Wheaton’s classic, “Elements of International Law” (1836 – first ed.). Reflecting values and interests of Western civilization, it leads theorists to set a “Standard of civilization” - a sort of benchmark for non-European states to be called 'civilized'. This includes (1) guaranteed rights of private property, (2) freedom of trade, travel and religion, (3) Effective system of law, courts and political organization.

1840-1842 - Opium Wars in China

1853Commodore Matthew Perry arrives with his flotilla of black-ships demanding trade – undermines the fragmented and inefficient Tokugawa regime, ultimately leading to its overthrow by warlords from Choshu and Satsuma domains.

1856-1858 - Arrow War in China – expanded the number of treaty ports in the north and the interior for Britain – after securing these, the imperialists sought to shore up the Ching government in order to maintain a stable environment for trade and investment.
- treaties signed on terms of diplomatic equality, thus ending the Chinese tration of superiority

1856 – Townsend Harris, first American diplomatic representative to Japan, arrives. Two years later, the 'Treaty of Amity & Commerce' (an unequal treaty) is signed giving the westerners' extra-territorial rights at five ports opened for trade – Hakodate, Nagasaki, Hyogo (Kobe) and Kanagawa (Yokohama).

1858-59: The Ansei Purge - 'loyalist' followers of the Mito Critique are arrested or executed under the orders of the shogunate chief councilor, Ii Naosuke.

1859: Ii Naosuke is assasinated by samurai (17 from Mito, 1 from Satsuma)

1863-64: Battle for Shimonoseki - Joint naval action by Britain, France, Netherlands and USA against the Choshu domain, in response to the imperial/loyalist 'order to expel barbarians'

1868-69: Boshin War - Civil war between the Tokugawa shogunate and the loyalist dissidents (those seeking return of political power to the imperial court)

1868: Meiji Restoration; the Meiji emperor reign - 1868-1912

1869 – 17th Nov. – Opening of the Suez canal – transition from sailing ship to steamship – London-based Intl monetary system

1871 – Newly established Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs draft the first, typical unequal treaty with China to obtain MFN concessions made to western powers. But could only obtain a Treaty of Amity – but this was the first treaty establishing Japan’s titular equality with China.

1871-1873 - Iwakura mission to Europe & America.

1876 – Japanese forces impose the Treaty of Kanghwa on the Koreans (the first such treaty)– accords Japan the privileges of open ports, extraterritoriality and tariff controls.

1880-mid: USA overtakes Britain as the world’s largest manufacturing production.

1881- Political crisis in Japan over the choice of the type of government – liberal, English-type or the more authoritarian, Prussian-style.

1891 – Russia decides to build the Trans-Siberian Railway.

1894 – Western powers recognize effectiveness of reforms and agree to sign treaties ending extra-territorial privileges in Japan.

1894 – Two weeks after revision of unequal treaties was achieved, Japan declares war on China.

1894-95: First Sino-Japanese war.

1895-1910 – Japanese penetration of Korea;

1895 - Treaty of Shimonoseki – China cedes Taiwan and recognizes Korean independence; leases Liaotung Peninsula in southern Manchuria (+ indemnity + impressive commercial concessions), to Japna. Japan becomes a full participant in the framework of imperialism;

1895, April 23 – Triple Intervention: Russia, France and Germany force Japan to retro-cede Liaotung P to China – demonstrates to Japan the need for alliances;

1902 – Anglo-Japanese Alliance – part of Britian’s effort of ‘perclusive’ imperialism to shore up its diplomatic and strategic position in East Asia through treaties with USA and Japan;

1904, Feb 8: Russo-Japanese war begins with a surprise Japanese submarine attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur;

1906-1910: Germany surpasses Britain’s manufacturing production. Britain loses lead in “second industrial revolution” in electricity, chemicals and steel;

1910 – Japan annexes Korea after brutally suppressing nascent Korean nationalism;



* Japan Rising (Kenneth Pyle, PublicAffairs in Paper)
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