chapter  3
6 Pages

2. Japan

Parallels between Russia and Japan readily suggest themselves. Both were deeply traditional societies, shocked out of their stagnation by events in the 1850's and 1860's: Russia by defeat in the Crimean War, followed by the Emancipation Edict of 1861, Japan by the arrival of Commodore Perry, followed by the Meiji restoration in 1868. In both, a rapid growth towards a modern industrial structure set in the mid-1880's. But the contrasts are equally great. Russia covers a vast area and is rich in natural resources, whereas the Japanese people are crowded into narrow strips of land between the mountains and the sea and possess few minerals. Later on, Japan was to try to imitate the western path as far as possible whereas Russia chose deliberately a totally different path of economic planning and the elimination of the private entrepreneur. Above all, Russia was the most backward of the major European states, Japan the most advanced among the nonEuropean communities.