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  • Writer's pictureYiming Sun

Fukuzawa Yukichi’s “On De-Asianization” V.S. J.M. Blaut’s “History Inside Out”

Updated: Jan 16

how does Fukuzawa’s understanding of Japan and the rest of Asia in relation to the West reproduce “the colonizer’s model of the world”?

Yiming Sun

Fukuzawa believes that the geographical location of Japan and other Eastern countries will make European countries think that they all identify with the traditional culture of the East, and Japan is ashamed of being on the same level as China and South Korea. As quoted in On De-Asianization that "they still speak of education in terms of Confucianism, cite humanity (jen), justice (i), civility (li), and wisdom (chih) as their principles of school education... not only ignorant of truths and principles but so extreme in their cruelty and shamelessness that for them morality is completely non-existent." This view attests to the evidence of Eurocentrism, which argues that Europe is the permanent center of the world, that people in other parts of the world are backward and uncreative. Therefore, scholars at the time believed that Europe needed to bring culture and promote progressive values while getting economic and lands as compensations. However, Blaut is opposed to this view, as he quoted in The Colonizers Model of the World Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History: "the development of a body of Eurocentric beliefs, justifying and assisting Europe's colonial activities." In comparison to Blaut, Fukuzawa not only did not criticize Eurocentrism, but he also took the initiative to accept Western civilization and join the Western camp to achieve de-Asianization. Due to the West-civilization incompatibility with the country's traditional government and the original oriental culture, Japan is facing the disaster of national destruction. Therefore, Japan established a new government and learned Western culture thoroughly. Based on Eurocentrism, Japan has identified with the colonizer's world model: on the one hand, it asserts that innovations such as democratic and science are invented by Europeans and dislikes the "backwardness" of the original oriental civilization, on the other hand, they can rightfully invade other countries to seize property.

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