Japanese political history from the Meiji Restoration to Following the ousting of the Tokugawa shogun, the emperor embarked on his role as the "enlightened ruler" of Japan. From this point, known as the "Meiji Restoration," Japan began a transformation from an agriculturally based, feudalistic society to a nation that, by the 1912 death of the emperor, had a centralized government, developed infrastructure, well-educated general population, fast growing industrial sector, as well as a very powerful military.
Of course, one of the most striking developments of the period was Japan's "shaking off" of foreign influence in its trade and legal affairs, leading it to a full and independent standing in the world community. Arguably this transformation was only possible due to the nation's ability to transform itself from a fragmented nation, ruled by class distinction and feudalistic division, to a unified state -- represented by one national army and economic authority -- an economic authority that could collect cash taxes (instead of rice/goods consideration) in order to buoy its nation building efforts.
Of course, during this period there was significant resistance to the change, especially on the part of those parties who benefited from the nation's former fragmentation and power sharing -- namely, the samurai class as well as the feudal lords. When the samurai finally rebelled in 1877 in the Satsuma rebellion, and were defeated by the new "modernly trained" (with Western arms and techniques) Japanese army, Japan's new identity began to be cemented.
However, although Japanese society did move away from the feudalistic type of government, the people still viewed the emperor as the supreme authority. However, the truth was the emperor did not actually rule. Instead, he relied on advisors, or an inner governmental circle to exercise real political control.
Another important political event was the establishment of an elected Diet or parliament, as well as a constitution in 1889. However, this constitution was imposed upon the people, and only the wealthy could vote. By 1925 the rules changed so that all men could vote -- yet women still could not.
Finally, in the period before WWI, a prosperous period known as the "Taisho democracy" was in full swing. This was characterized by a relatively open political system, as well as economic prosperity. It was within this period that political parties were born and grew in influence. Of course, following the War, an economic depression occurred in which a milieu of militarism (regarding the Asian mainland) in search of natural resources and regional power began to take hold. It was this atmosphere that set the stage for the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
2. Describe the position of the Emperor, the Diet and the Prime Minister in the current Japanese political structure.
Today, the Emperor of Japan is "the symbol of the State and the unity of the people." However he does not have any real political power. Instead, the Emperor is a "symbolic" figure, relegated to performing matters of "state" such as receiving dignitaries, swearing in of officials, etc. Although he does convene the Diet and dissolves the House of Representatives, as well as "appointing" the prime minister, he only does these activities based on cabinet decisions and the Diet's designation.
The Prime Minister of Japan has more power than the Emperor; however, he does not have absolute power due to the other branches of government. Specifically, the prime minister is the chairman of Cabinet meetings (the Executive branch), is appointed by the Diet, and in tern appoints the cabinet ministers. Additionally, the Prime Minister can permit legal action against the Ministers, and is charged with counter-signing all laws.
Finally, the National Diet of Japan is a parliamentarian body that consist of two bodies, the House of Representatives (lower house), and the House of Councilors, or the upper house. Much like in the United States, these houses are elected by the people and are charged with passing laws and selecting the Prime Minister. Further, if the House of Representatives delivers a "no confidence" vote against the Prime Minister, he will be removed from office.
3. Discuss the role of the individual in the Japanese political framework. What role do political parties play?
Although the role of the Japanese individual is famously linked to the "group" culturally, the political power of the individual is significant in Japan, especially when these individuals join or form groups of similar interest known as political parties. Of course, in the latter years of the Meiji Restoration, the emergence of the political party began. Today the main (and constantly changing) political parties exert tremendous influence on the political and economic policies of Japan, and as such, symbolize the immense power of the individual in the political life of the country.
Seven of the major parties are the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the New Komeito, or "New Clean Government Party," the Hoshushinto, or "New Conservative Party," the Minshuto, or the "Democratic Party of Japan," the Nihon Kyosanto, or the "Japan Communist party," the Jiyuto, or the "Liberal Party," and the Shakai Minshuto, or the "Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ)."
The actual role of the political parties depend on their influence and representation in government at any point in time. In this way, the function of the political party in Japan is very similar to the role of the political party in the United States. Of course, the flux between major and minor party influence sometimes changes depending on these factors. However, also like within the United States, some of the parties (for example, the Communist party in both nations) remains relatively marginalized.
4. Analyze and evaluate the history and political culture of China.
The history and political culture of China is an interesting story. This is especially true when one considers its transformation from a long ling of ruling "dynasties" to a "People's Republic" in modern times. However, it is the most recent years of China's political history that seem to hold the greatest bearing on current events both within, and outside, of China.
The period characterized as the "Fall of Imperial China," culminating in the ultimate collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 marked a period of immense turmoil and chaos. The period that followed was known as the era of "Republican China," a period, lasting until 1949, that was characterized by foreign (Japanese) occupation. However, a new trend began to emerge in the early 20's in which the Nationalist Party, known as the KMT aligned itself financially with the Communist Soviets and the Chinese Communist Party, or the CCP.
However, after the KMT was taken over by Chiang Kaishek in 1925, the alliance with the communists was shattered when he massacred CCP members in Shanghai. Although many died, one key member, Mao Zedong survived.
After a period of time "on the run" in the "Long March," Mao became the undisputed leader of the Communist party and its "Revolution." As a result of the divided "fronts" the anti-communist KMT forces were forced to fight between the communist party and the Japanese invaders, the Communist party grew in strength. During this time, the Japanese occupied the major port cities of the country, and took a major toll on the KMT. Of course, when Japanese forces were in turn divided in their military attention after Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Communists had another opportunity to grow in strength. Finally, following the end of the war, the nationalists were dealt a final blow in the form of internal corruption, debt, and hyperinflation. Finally, they fled, and Mao proclaimed the birth of the communist Peoples Republic.
Although Mao had great plans for his nation, a series of difficulties plagued the new republic, chief among them the famine of 1958-1960. Then, in 1966, the "Cultural Revolution" was born, in which students were called upon to form "Red Guard" units against "authority." Not only did this cause immediate chaos, disruption, conflict and death, but it signaled the power Mao had over the country.
After Mao's death in 1976, Deng Xiaping went on to become the Chinese leader and institute economic reform in 1978 in which knowledge became the criteria for leadership. This lead to increased prosperity and less famine. However, this economic reform also led to a desire amongst some in the country for political reform as well, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, a 1989 push for reform was immediately put down by the Chinese government. Whether this had a positive or negative effect on the individual Chinese is unclear. However, following a "regrouping period," the economic climate of the country improved further, although the nation is still officially a communist nation, instances of individualistic wealth, economic structures, and investment, as well as an increasing tolerance for difference on some fronts seems to be improving.
5. Discuss how the current Chinese government operates.
The current "official" government of China remains a "one-party rule" under the CCP or the Chinese Communist Party.
It operates under an executive branch consisting of a "state council," which…