Essay Question #1
Throughout the history of East Asia, political institutions and ideologies vary extensively.
Furthermore, in comparing China with Japan, there are many differences pertaining to the nature
and structure of government within the two countries.
China evolved from controlled
monarchies and kingships into complex bureaucracies and eventually a single-party republic.
Japan, likewise, seemed to continually adapt to Chinese politics, with the exception of the Heian
aristocracy from the 8
The political institutions of both China and Japan
have become more centralized and bureaucratic over time, allowing for economic and cultural
growth within the two countries.
China’s first historical dynasty, the Shang (1500-1045 BC), was structured as a controlled
monarchy based on divination and ascertaining the gods (Barbieri-Low, lecture, 8/3/10).
subsequent Zhou Dynasty was also based around this ability of the king to contact the heavens.
However, the Zhou also incorporated a feudal hierarchy, so that the king really only controlled a
small territory; remaining territory was controlled by members of the royal family and alliance
(Barbieri-Low, lecture, 8/3/10).
These two dynasties illustrate China’s most primitive forms of
government – monarchies and feudalism based on divination.
The earliest civilization of Japan, the Jomon Culture (10,000-350 BC), greatly differs
from those of the Shang and the Zhou.
This culture had no state level society (Barbieri-Low,
Instead, people lived as successful hunter-gatherers in semi-sedentary
Since the people flourished in this type of culture, they had no need to further
develop agriculture or government (Barbieri-Low, lecture, 8/11/10).
It would not be until the 3
century AD that Japanese government took a definite shape.