HIEA 112 — Medium Post #2
Read “The Way of Subjects” alongside “Goodbye Asia” from week 3. What has remained consistent in the justifications that each piece makes for imperialism, and what has transformed over the course of 55 years? What do you think accounts for the main changes?
Both “The Way of Subjects” and “Goodbye Asia” reveals the significance of influencing Japan’s political ideology to its neighboring countries — proving the superiority of Japanese government and the degradation of other Asian countries’ government system. In “The Way of Subjects,” the author signifies the idea of preserving Imperial Throne. It is a citizen’s duty to live and serve for their Imperial Throne, that “our lives will last forever and true when they are offered to the Emperor and the state” (440). At the same time, attempts to spread such strong influences to its neighboring country were also established. The China Affairs is an example. It was their goal to propagate Japanese Empire as far as they could, in order to win over the world. Meanwhile, “Goodbye Asia” reveals a degrading look of Japan on its neighboring countries — China and Korea. Japan believed that, with an old-fashioned ideology of preserving core traditions and values that Korea and China had, would establish a halt to their countries’ development: “They forcibly try to avoid it by shutting off air from their rooms. Without air, they suffocate to death” (352). With this explanation, Japan believed that China and Korea will soon be conquered and divided among the civilized countries. This result supports the fact that what the Japanese government was doing at the time, was indeed correct and should be followed by those neighboring countries. After all, their justification for imperialism remained the same.
Nevertheless, the two pieces of article differ in the Japanese stance on the imperialism of the West. In “The Way of Subjects,” Western Imperialism was acknowledged and used as a warning sign. There would be no penetration from a foreign ideology that would most likely alter their Imperial Throne’s superiority. However, “Goodbye Asia” showed that Japan have had a different take on Western Imperialism. They then believed that civilization should be the new ideology, in order to enhance the country and its citizens’ lives. Transportation was used as an example, to which Japan compared the ancient, slow method of transportation to the new, faster method, in order to prove their point of a modernized, civilized country.
Over the course of 55 years, Japan reinforced the significance of nationalism within its society. At first, their reason for establishing nationalism was to build a strong defense system for the country, as stated in “The Way of Subjects,” in order to protect and maintain its empire. However, nationalism in “Goodbye Asia” was more of an approach to take citizens and the country’s well-being into account. They seemed to prioritize that more than the country’s core traditions, through the way they accepted new ideologies from the West. I think it is due to Japanese people’ belief in Japan’s image of superiority compared to its neighboring countries, they were willing to “trade” their loyalty to surrender for imperialism.