Japanese and Chinese reactions
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The European arrival in both Japan and China significantly affected both societies. Following the isolation of the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century, the Christian missionaries attempted to further penetrate the population of China. In Japan, with the rule of emperor Nobunaga, the Christian missionaries were encouraged to convert populations of Japanese. When the Christian religion was seen as a threat to the social hierarchy of Japan, the missionaries were either expelled or persecuted. The missionaries from Europe were some of the first Europeans to influence society in Japan and China. In Japan and China, the European arrival affected the technologies and economies of both societies similarly, whereas the integration of the Christian religion differed in these societies.
The technology of the European’s following their arrival penetrated both the Japanese and Chinese societies significantly. In China, in order to gain the elites interest in the Christian religion, the Jesuit missionaries introduced the technology of cannons and clocks. Additionally, the Chinese calenders were corrected by the Jesuit missionaries. The ability of the Europeans to predict eclipses and the precision of their scientific instruments astounded the Chinese scholar-gentry. The technology introduced into China by the Europeans allowed the Chinese to advance remarkably in the field of science. In Japan during the 1540s, the Portuguese technology of clock and gun making strongly influenced society. With the introduction of firearms to the Japanese society, the unrest between warring daimyos was further increased.
These firearms also enabled the three unifiers of Japan, Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu, to diminish the power of the daimyos. The Japanese and Chinese both openly accepted the new European technologies because they felt compelled to accept the technologies to keep up with the Europeans, who seemed more technologically advanced. This acceptance of European technology allowed for the Europeans to impress and further influence the societies of Japan and China. As well, the technological advancements introduced allowed the Japanese and Chinese societies to benefit greatly in the field of science.
The European arrival in Japan and China allowed for alterations in commerce in both societies. In Japan, commercial contacts with Europeans encouraged the Japanese to venture overseas and trade with countries such as Formosa and Korea. The Japanese also traded with locations as far as the Philippines and Siam. Through trade, the Japanese also developed new European styles of gun-making which improved firearms, eventually allowing for an increased trade of weaponry. When Portuguese sailors washed up on the shore of the Japanese island of Kyushu, European traders viewed Japan as an economy where they could prosper, beginning there exchange of silver, copper, pottery and lacquerware for Japanese goods. Traders from Europe also brought goods such as printing presses and clocks to Japan. In China, with the arrival of the Europeans, their silk trade was further refined and expanded.
As well, silver from the Americas was introduced into China. The European arrival heavily influenced trade in Japan because the daimyos were enduring a period of civil wars, where the guns introduced by the Europeans were of great importance. As well, Tokugawa increasingly imported these weapons to eventually break up the daimyos. These firearms played an important role in the increasing commerce of Japan during these times. In China, silver was of great importance, for it is a necessity of any great civilization. Therefore, the Chinese imported such bullion from the Spanish, increasing their activity in commerce as well.
Europeans were able to integrate their Christian religion more successfully in China than in Japan by the 1600s. As the Chinese began their attempts to isolate themselves, the Christian missionaries began their proselytizing, viewing this isolation as an opportunity. The Franciscans and Dominicans struggled to gain converts in China, yet the Jesuits were more successful, for they began a process in which they converted the elites first, therefore further influencing the lower classes. At the climax of the European proselytizing, tens of thousands of Chinese converted to the Christian religion. The Jesuits impressed the Chinese elite with their knowledge of science and technology, introducing clocks, cannons, and correct calenders. In Japan, Nobunaga embraced the Christian religion, for he viewed it as a counterforce to the Buddhist orders which were restricting his further rise to power.
With Nobunaga’s support of the religion, the Jesuits converted many daimyos and their samurai warriors as well. Even though Nobunaga never converted to Christianity himself, he still patronized the religion, enabling the missionaries to amass a converted population in the hundreds of thousands by the 1580s. In China, with the isolation of the Ming Dynasty, the missionaries were able to further penetrate the Chinese population, eventually strengthening their position at court. This strengthening was most likely due to the need for salvation which the Christian religion provided. In Japan, with the death of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi was less enthusiastic about the Christian religion, and the conversion process seemed to come to a halt.
Also, the Buddhist sects which had opposed the emperors power were now diminished, and therefore the Christian religion no longer had to be patronized as it had been previously by emperor Nobunaga. The Japanese emperor was viewed as a god, and therefore, with the Christian belief that there was only one god, the Christian religion became a threat to the Japanese social structure. Threatening the social order of Japan, the missionaries were persecuted by Hideyoshi in the 1590s. In 1614, the Christian faith was officially banned in Japan. In China, the missionaries of the Christian religion retained a much larger Christian population of converts, most likely because of the differing social structures of both China and Japan.
In Japan and China, the European arrival affected the technologies and economies of both societies similarly, yet the Christian religions integration into both societies differed. The technologies introduced by the Europeans allowed for a strong advancement of technology in both China and Japan. These technologies were partially introduced to impress these societies and gain new converts to the Christian religion. The European arrival in both Japan and China allowed for increased commercial contacts and trade. The Christian religion was introduced to China and Japan via missionaries, yet the missionaries were more successful at gaining converts in the Chinese society by the 1600s. In the 1580s, the Japanese expelled all Christian missionaries, whereas with the isolation of the Ming in the 1400s, the missionaries further penetrated the Chinese society. The European arrival in China and Japan significantly influenced and affected both societies technologically, economically, and religiously.