Japan, an isolated island in the Pacific Ocean in East Asia, surprised the world when it first opened its doors to Western influence in 1854. While it had a strict policy about maintaining its isolation, it had no choice but to succumb to imperialism. When Commodore Matthew Perry visited, Japan realized that isolation had resulted in their inability to develop economically and militarily with the industrialized world. Thus from 1854 to 1914, Japan changed from being under the influence of imperialism to becoming an imperialist nation, as well as coming out of feudalism and going to into modern militarism. Despite all these changes in its economy and military, Japan had managed to consolidate its power under one single ruler, whether it is
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However, Japan and U.S became economically dependent as time went on. By 1914, Japanese imperialism had become a threat to the United States to the point that it had to place an embargo in order to stop it from invading neighboring countries such as Australia. The reason Japan changed from being threatened by Europeans and Americans to being as threatening as they are is because they were motivated to become a powerful nation. Their initial decision to open up trade with the West was prompted by their desire to posses modern technology. These changes were caused by the lack of resources, the need for Japan to earn its reputation as a strong nation and to avoid manipulation by the West.
This time period in Japan can be compared with the Europe and East Asia. The Meiji Restoration can be compared with Europe’s Industrial Revolution. Japan was able to build factories and set up private organizations more rapidly because it did not need to experiment with or invent anything new. The formation of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere created an independent nation capable of eliminating imperialism from Asia and to develop a sufficient economy in order to compete with the Europeans. This is different from what was occurring in China. Although both nations were exposed to imperialism and were taken advantage of by the Western nations, Japan avoided victimization and embraced imperialism.
As Japan became an