13 Beyond Wealth and Military Power
(1) A Grand Plan for Building the Nation
The watchword of the great hundred-year plan drawn up by the leaders of Meiji Japan was fukoku ky_ei (_enrich the country and strengthen the military_). This is easy to criticize from the contemporary perspective, but on the basis of this national policy Japan became the only non-Western nation to achieve political independence and economic development at a time when most regions in Asia were falling under colonial rule.
Yokoi Sh_an_s Advocacy of Fukoku Ky_ei
One of the leading advocates of the enhancement of national wealth and military power was a pioneering thinker from Kumamoto, Yokoi Sh_an (1809_69). In 1860, eight years before the Meiji Restoration, Sh_an drew up his Three Principles of National Policy_national wealth, military strength, and the spirit of the samurai code. Although these principles were initially formulated for the development of Echizen Province (now Fukui Prefecture), where Sh_an taught at the domainal academy, the following sentence from the Principles clearly shows that Sh_an_s vision went beyond the regional level- _Only when one has knowledge of all nations can one govern Japan; only when one can govern Japan can one govern a province; only when one can govern a province can one hold a position of responsibility._ Yokoi Sh_an_s blueprint for the building of modern Japan was clearly founded on a global vision.
Even today Shonan_s argument for adopting the policy of fukoku ky_ei has lost none of its force. Sh_an was of course aware of the fate that befell China at the hands of the British after the Opium War (1840_42) and fully understood that the Great Powers were moving in the direction of colonial expansion in Asia. He advocated the enhancement of the state_s productive economic resources and was particularly emphatic about the need to build a navy as strong as Britain_s: _The British have placed great importance on wealth and power. They have succeeded in gaining a monopoly of the unsurpassed wealth of India, a country known as the world s treasure house. In view of the similarities in the circumstances of Britain and Japan, we should follow the British example by strengthening our military capacity._ Just a few years later, the perspicacity of Sh_an_s vision was demonstrated by the bombardment of Satsuma (now Kagoshima Prefecture) by a British naval squadron in 1863 and the bombardment of Shimonoseki in Ch_hu (now Yamaguchi Prefecture) by the joint forces of Britain, France, the Netherlands, and the United States in 1864. As a member of the Iwakura Mission in 1871_73, _ubo Toshimichi (1830_78) observed at first hand the promotion of national wealth and military power in Europe and the United States, and strongly advocated the policy of fukoku ky_ei upon his return to Japan. Both Sh_an and _ubo were assassinated by samurai who wanted to preserve the old order.
The Anachronism of the Military State
The enhancement of national wealth and military power was the guiding principle of national building in Europe from the seventeenth century. Japan_s adoption of this as its national policy culminated in its defeat in World War II and its renunciation of the use of military force. However, the establishment of a military state has become an anachronism not only in Japan but in the international community as a whole. In his study of economic change and military conflict from 1500 to 200, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Paul Kennedy argues that the countries of modern Europe sought to increase both their wealth and military might. Since the maximization of military strength cannot be achieved without economic power these policies went hand in hand, and the nations that achieved these objectives became powerful modern states. As a result, the countries of Europe came to exert a tremendous influence throughout the world, controlling one third of the world_s territory by 1800 and four-fifths on the eve of World War I.