Good De-Asianization, Diffusionisn And Eurocentrism Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Europe, Japan, World, Model, China, Innovation, Development, Civilization

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/06

De-Asianization, Diffusionisn and Eurocentrism

The initial impression after reading the analysed quote of Fukuzawa Yukichi is that the author considers Japan superior to China and Korea and from this perspective, more attached to Europe than to Asia, because, just as the European states, Japan worships progress and modernization. The European perceived superiority is criticized in Blaut’s writing “History Inside Out”, but the Eurocentrism, as well as the diffusionism theory that Blaut conceptualizes, support Fukuzawa’s declaration. Fukuzawa’s statement is deeply influenced by the historical context of the Meji period and the declared closeness to Europe, while militating for the de-Asianization of Japan, implies political connotations that indicate Japan’s colonization intentions, following the diffusionism European model, criticized by Blaut.
Fukuzawa considers that Japan is superior to China and Korea, because it is culturally more attached to Europe, the cradle of civilization and modernization, while the other Asian countries are entrenched in old traditions and need to be brought to modern eve through diffusion. As Blaut indicates, European scholars consider that Europe is an evolutionist, independent - inventionist civilization, whereas all the other societies are diffusing the Europeans’ creative minds, not capable themselves of inventing, but only of imitating. Fukuzawa’s claim according to which China and Korea “do not know how to go about reforming and making progress, whether individual or as a country” , shares the Eurocentrism perspective, criticized by Blaut. In his writing, Blaut condemns the proponents of Eurocentrism and diffusionism, considering that they advance false theories portraying Europe as the only original, modern and progressive civilization and all the other cultures copy what Europe transmits through colonization.
Fukuzawa is positioning Japan closer to Europe, implying that Japanese culture is original and progressive, just as European countries are, unlike China and Korea, which, in his opinions, are unable to innovate. This is the reason for which Fukuzawa demands Japan to approach the de-Asianization. De-Asianization is a theory that explains Fukuzawa’s intention of living behind an archaic Asia, entrenched in Confucius’ learning, while embracing the progress and modernization that Europe promoted as the advantages of the colonizing states. Fukuzawa considers other states, such as China and Korea as incapable of progressing, which is a theory supported by the adepts of Eurocenticism and diffusionism, who consider that only Europe, through colonization, can impose upon the other cultures the means for progress. This perspective is criticized by Blaut, when referring to Eurocentrism, diffusionism and the binary relation Inside – Outside, according to which Europe is Inside, generating the progress for the rest of the world (the Outside) to follow. Blaut counter argues the adepts of Eurocentrism, stating that there were, across time, other civilizations elsewhere than in Europe, who were capable of writing, developing agriculture, urbanization and finding progress on their own. Implicitly, Blaut’s text also criticizes Fukuzawa opinion that Japan is superior to China and Korea.
The Japanese author’s arguments are reflecting Japan’s fondness for the European civilization, a fondness explained by the social exchanges between Europe and Japan, wherein Japan advanced the idea of civilization and modernization through adopting European values. In his perception, Japan is superior to China and Korea and because of this it should be closer to Europe and not to Asia, confirming the fact that Europe is the epicenter of progress and innovation, while the rest of the world imitates it. Just as the Europeans, Fukuzawa praises the superiority of one race over others, stating that the modernization of Japan and the stubborn entrenchment in old traditions of China and Korea made Japan superior to the other Asian countries.
Sharing the same view on colonizer’s model as the Europeans was not a random fact, but a political strategy. In the 19th century the Western civilization was advancing in Asia, conquering through military interventions Chinese or Indian territories. In the Meji period Japan, this situation was a chance to adopt the Herodian man strategy, acting according to Western principles and techniques, while keeping the secret of maintaining its national independence. By accepting the Western powers as allies and maintaining closer relations with European countries than with Asian states, Japan acclaimed its friendship position towards Europe, avoiding like this any military conflicts with the West, feared for its technological advances and military advancements. In fact, Hane quotes Fukuzawa’s words: “Japan must advance toward civilization for the sake of preserving [its] independence” and the sole modality of preserving its independence was through adoption of the Western civilization modernization model. In accordance with the European colonizer’s model, Fukuzawa declares that Japan should not be obliged to support China and Korea just because they are neighboring countries, it should “behave towards them as Westerners do”.
Fukuzawa’s declaration of acting as the Europeans do implies the belief according to which taking the way to modernization is the solution for continuing the country’s existence as an independent nation. This statement denotes the author’s fear that another endeavor, other than pursuing Europe’s way, might lead to undesired conflicts with the West. Moreover, approaching the Western colonizer’s model would generate enhanced advantages for Japan, in terms of technology, military development, allowing the country to further act as the Europeans, appealing to the colonization of their neighbors. This approach is criticized by Blaut’s writing, because the author explains that imposing a civilization over what was perceived as lack of civilization and means of progress often implied “acts of conquest, of repression, of exploitation”
As the Europeans, the Japanese valued the modernization for the vast resources that colonization generated. Walvin summarizes only few of the advantages of the colonization, indicating the European’s delight for tobacco, coffee, and tea, all products of the colonized states. Advancing on the benefits of modernization and colonization, Fukuzawa suggests that China and Korea’s independence is threatened, because they do not pursue modern advancement. With this declaration, Fukuzawa also expresses the strategy for Japan to colonize China and Korea, arguing it as a mere adaptation to the Western model.
Blaut’s argument of the colonizer’s model states that the European scholars perceived Europe as leading the innovations that all the other cultures follow. Fukuzawa’s declaration confirms the colonizer’s model, positioning Japan on the same line with the West in terms of modernization and colonization. In the context of the Meiji Japan, Fukuzawa’s argument for De-Asianization and the adoption of the Western model implies secret connotations. According to these secret connotations, Japan communicates its affection for the Western values and colonizer’s model only for avoiding conflict with the West and maintaining its independence. While Japan values the Western technology and military development, it nevertheless uses the colonizer’s model to declare its intentions for colonizing China and Korea, while remaining in good contact with Europe.


Blaut, James Morris. The Colonizer’s Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History. New York: The Guilford Press. 1993.
Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies, ed. Meiji Japan through Contemporary Sources. Vol. 3. Tokyo: Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies. 1972.
Hane, Mikiso. Modernization and the Peasants. New York: Partheon Books. 1982.
Karatani, Kojin. History and Repetition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012
Walvin, James. “A Taste of the Empire”. 1600 – 1800. History Today. Vol 49, no. 1, pp. 3 – 27. 1997.

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