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After doing a bit of research on the net about Japanese history, I am still confused with a few points.

1) I noticed that way back in history that there was a time when the Japanese where trading and doing buisness with many other countries. Unfortunatley, international trade was short lived as the Japanese government at that time decides to put a very strict isolation policy that forbids all international trade and communication. Keep in mind this is way back in the feudal/medival times.
What was the reason for isolationism? What were they afraid of? How were foreigners considered a threat? Where they afraid of foreign invasion? What was the threat?

2) Even though the Japanese borrowed alot of traditions, art styles and as well as borrowing Chinese characters (for use with kanji), why do the Japanese look down on the Chinese even though they have so much in common?

3) I read that the US and a few European nations were responsible for threatening Japan to open itself to international buisness at the end of the 19th century. Some say that this is what lead the Japanese to become militaristically aggressive because they feel that they need to conquer Asia in order to match the strength of European and American superpowers.
While some say that Japan, with or without outside force, will still resort to militaristic aggression towards Asia sooner or later because of of the power that the military has over its own people.
Was it really European empires and the US that made Japan start world war 2 or does Japan had the expansionist desire even before western pressure??
 

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1) they thought that they were people that were directly related to god (or something like that, it has to do with religion) and that they wanted to keep their own culture.
2)dunno
3)dunno :)
 

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From what I've read the isolation was due mainly in part to the spread of Christianity in Japan. The emporer at the time was opposed to Christianity and instituted an isolation due to the spread.

I also believe Japan entered WWII on the basis of disagreements between itself and the US over natural resources.
 

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The japanese Looked down on the chinese, as they thought they were merly barbarians, who didn't reach their level of knowledge, also they saw that china was full with resourses that are too much for the chinese to handel, thus they took over china during WWII, Until Mao Zi Dong came into the picture.
 

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All 3 are relatively complex questions... and I could go on for many pages answering any one of them... and I have. I was an Asian Studies major in college, and took about a billion classes on Japanese history and wrote tons of papers on these and similar subjects. I'll keep these answers short and sweet.

1) Xenophobia and human nature. If you know alot about US history, you'll know that the US didn't want much to do with the rest of the world either. Considering that the cultural differences between Japan and the West were even greater, and that Japanese culture had evolved in relative isolation for thousands of years, the isolationist beliefs are understandable.

2) Their isolationist policies as well as personal spiritual beliefs lead to a deep seeded national identity. A common phrase that you hear alot in Japanese is "Ware ware nihonjin" which means "we japanese people"... implying that many Japanese people view themselves as cultural unique, and even BETTER, and that other non-Japanese can't or won't understand their philosophies and beliefs. This borders on arrogance, and many times flat out IS arrogance. Japan is one of the most ethnocentric cultures on the planet, and there's alot of bias towards not just China, but many outside cultures.

3) You're pretty on the money there. The West didn't directly threaten to colonize Japan, but the Japanese quickly realized that they were overmatched in terms of military might and technology. Japan also realized that despite a large and fairly centralized population, that there was a strong sense of nationalistic IDENTITY, but not nationalistic PRIDE. Well one of the best ways to bolster that kind of pride was to prove that they were as big and bad as the Western superpowers. That meant an emulation of the things they considered impressive about the West. Because they had a large and centralized population, and a landscape and mindset that was in disarray after the destruction of the Meiji revolution, they were focused as a GROUP to start over and build up. This allowed them to go from basically a medieval feudal state to a modernized industrial country in only about 50 years. They also completely reformed the government and military. The government system was almost a direct copy of England's parliament and the Japanese navy's structure was heavily borrowed from the British model as well. They fashioned their army and much of their technology after Germany (and these close ties to high ranking German officials and military personel through the late 19th and early 20th century later led to the alliance with the Germans in WW2). The next step was to USE this technology and reformed military to colonize. Even before WW2 began, they had fought the Russians over control of parts of Eastern Russia and Mongolia, and had already invaded and occupied Korea in 1905. This was nothing new though... cause Japan invaded and basically terrorized Korea numerous times over the course of history, including some major action way back in 1592. It just proves that countries have a natural urge towards conquering and colonizing those they perceive to be weaker or inferior. So yes, the aggressive military acts of Japan were INSPIRED by the Western powers, but I wouldn't say that they CAUSED Japan to do anything.
 
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