1. Industrial societies far from becoming like each other have found their own paths to becoming modern. The histories of Japan and China show how different historical conditions led them on widely divergent paths to building independent and modern nations.
Japan was successful in retaining its independence and using traditional skills and practices in new ways.
However, its elite-drivern modernisation generated an aggressive nationalism, helped to sustain a repressive regime that stifled dissent and demands for democracy, and established a colonial empire that left a legacy of hatred in the region as well as distorted internal developments.
2. Japan's programme of modernisation was carried out in an environment dominated by Western imperial powers. While it imitated them it also attempted to find its own solutions.
Japanese nationalism was marked by these different compulsions - while many Japanese hoped to liberate Asia from Western domination, for others these ideas justified building an empire.
3. It is important to note that the transformation of social and political institutions and daily life was not just a question of reviving traditions, or tenaciously preserving them, but rather of creatively using them in new and different ways.
For instance, the Meiji school system, modelled on European and American practices, introduced new subjects but the curriculum's main objective was to make loyal citizens. A course on morals that stressed loyalty to the emperor was compulsory.
Similarly, changes in the family or in daily life show how foreign and indigenous ideas were brought together to create something new.
4. The Chinese path to modernisation was very differnt. Foreign imperialsim, both Western and Japanese, combined with a hesitant and unsure Qing dynasty to weaken government control and set the stage for a breakdown of political and social order leading to immense misery for most of the people.
Warlordism, banditry and civil war exacted a heavy toll on human lives, as did the savagery of the Japanese invasion. Natural disasters added to this burden.
5. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw a rejection of traditions and a search for ways to build national unity and strength. The CCP and its supporters fought to put an end to tradition, which they saw as keeping the masses in poverty, the women subjugated and the country undeveloped.