MIT Visualizing Cultures

Throwing Off Asia – Lesson 08

The Birthday of the “New” Japan

Handout 08-A

Throwing Off Asia
By Yukichi Fukuzawa (1885)

“Today’s China and Korea have not done a thing for Japan. From the perspectives of civilized Westerners, they may see what is happening in China and Korea and judge Japan accordingly, because of the three countries’ geographic proximity…. It is not different from the case of a righteous man living in a neighborhood of a town known for foolishness, lawlessness, atrocity, and heartlessness. His action is so rare that it is always buried under the ugliness of his neighbors’ activities…. How unfortunate it is for Japan.
“What must we do today? We do not have time to wait for the enlightenment of our neighbors so that we can work together toward the development of Asia. It is better for us to leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with civilized nations of the West…. Any person who cherishes a bad friend cannot escape his bad notoriety. We simply erase from our minds our bad friends in Asia.”
Excerpted from Yukichi Fukuzawa, “Goodbye to Asia” in David John Lu, Japan: A Documentary History.  New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1996: 350-351.


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