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The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895-1910

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Overview

What forces were behind Japan's emergence as the first non-Western colonial power at the turn of the twentieth century? Peter Duus brings a new perspective to Meiji expansionism in this pathbreaking study of Japan's acquisition of Korea, the largest of its colonial possessions. He shows how Japan's drive for empire was part of a larger goal to become the economic, diplomatic, and strategic equal of the Western countries who had imposed a humiliating treaty settlement on the country in the 1850s.

Duus maintains that two separate but interlinked processes, one political/military and the other economic, propelled Japan's imperialism. Every attempt at increasing Japanese political influence licensed new opportunities for trade, and each new push for Japanese economic interests buttressed, and sometimes justified, further political advances. The sword was the servant of the abacus, the abacus the agent of the sword.

While suggesting that Meiji imperialism shared much with the Western colonial expansion that provided both model and context, Duus also argues that it was "backward imperialism" shaped by a sense of inferiority vis-à-vis the West. Along with his detailed diplomatic and economic history, Duus offers a unique social history that illuminates the motivations and lifestyles of the overseas Japanese of the time, as well as the views that contemporary Japanese had of themselves and their fellow Asians.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter Duus is William H. Bonsall Professor of History at Stanford University. He is author of Feudalism in Japan, (2nd ed. 1993), editor of The Cambridge History of Japan Vol. 6 (1989), and coeditor of The Japanese
Informal Empire in Japan, 1895-1937
(1991).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction: The Origins of Meiji Imperialism 1
1 The Korean Question, 1876-1894 29
2 The Failed Protectorate, 1894-1895 66
3 Japanese Power in Limbo, 1895-1898 103
4 The Race for Concessions, 1895-1901 134
5 Toward the Protectorate, 1901-1905 169
6 The Politics of the Protectorate, 1905-1910 201
7 Capturing the Market: Japanese Trade in Korea 245
8 Dreams of Brocade: Migration to Korea 289
9 Strangers in a Strange Land: The Settler Community 324
10 The Korean Land Grab: Agriculture and Land Acquisition 364
11 Defining the Koreans: Images of Domination 397
Conclusion: Mimesis and Dependence 424
Bibliography 439
Index 461
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