“Japan is a shimaguni (island country): The Japanese archipelago (island chain) consists of four main islands–Honshû, Shikoku, Kyûshû and Hokkaidô–and thousands of smaller surrounding ones” (“Japan’s Geography”). The Japanese Islands are covered with mountains, most of which are heavily forested. Short, fast rivers cut through these mountains, and only a few Japanese rivers are navigable. Because the Japanese Archipelago lies along the Ring of Fire, the edge of the Pacific plate, it experiences many earthquakes and tsunamis. Japan’s geography creates difficulty for people living there; specifically, only 15% of Japan’s total land are is suitable for farming. As a result, the Japanese rely partially upon offshore fishing and trade for food.
Seoul, South Korea
During the Joseon Dynasty, General Yi Seong-gye chose Seoul to be the capital of his empire. Seoul was controlled by the feudal system until 1910, when Japan invaded and placed Korea under its colonial control. During this period, Korean culture seemed to fade away (“Korea: Seoul History”). Korea escaped this tyranny, gaining independence after WWII. Ever since then, Seoul has grown rapidly and continuously, making huge economical advances in the past 50 years. Today, Seoul is one of the most technologically advanced centers in the world; Seoul is the center of culture, business, government, and trade in South Korea. The above picture is real, taken from the top of the World Trade Tower in Seoul.
“Between the 12th and 19th centuries, feudal Japan had an elaborate four tier class system. Unlike European feudal society, in which the peasants (or serfs) were at the bottom, the Japanese feudal class structure placed merchants on the lowest rung. Confucian ideals emphasized the importance of productive members of society, so farmers and fishermen had higher status than shop-keepers in Japan” (Szczepanski). Although making up only 10% of the the population, samurai warriors and their daimyo lords wielded enormous power in the feudal system. The daimyo were warlords, each controlling a broad are of land and a samurai army. Below the samurai in the system were the farmers and peasants, artisans, and merchants. Later, interclass mixing became customary, and even later, Japan’s “Floating World” period. Eventually, the emperor regained power and began the Meiji Restoration. Even later, U.S. Naval officer Matthew Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay in 1852, pressuring the Japanese to open up to trade, ending the four-tier feudal system. The Japanese Feudal Period lasted quite a long time, shaping Japan’s ancient culture and influencing it in modern times.
The One Child Policy’s Impact on China’s Population
In 1979, China began a policy that limited the number of children a family could have, down to 1. Although there are ways around this policy, having twins for example, the policy is facing much opposition and has large repercussions on China’s age demographic. This policy was meant to stop the country from growing too large, but at the cost of an aging population. As you can see in the chart, people will continue to live longer and longer, but fewer young people will be introduced into the population, creating age imbalance. Also, more boys are born than girls, mostly because of strong cultural imperative to have male children; this troubling trend could have disastrous effects in the future if not fixed, including labor shortages. Although the policy has effectively curbed the country’s population growth, it will have serious repercussions in the future.
Boehm, Richard G., and Dinah Zike. Glencoe World Geography and Cultures. New York: McGraw, 2012. Print.
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“China’s Population: The Most Surprising Demographic Crisis.” The Economist. Economist Newspaper, 5 May 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2013. <http://www.economist.com/node/18651512>.
“Japan Moves Away from Eurasia.” WordPress. WordPress, 17 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://emsnews.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/japan-moves-away-from-eurasia1.png?w=500>.
“Japan’s Geopgraphy.” Asia for Educators. Columbia University, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/japan/japanworkbook/geography/japgeo.html>.
“Korea: Seoul History.” KoreaOrbit.com. KoreaOrbit.com, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://www.koreaorbit.com/korea-travel/seoul-south-korea/history.html>.
“Samurai.” Talisman Coins. Talisman World Coins and Medals, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013. <http://www.talismancoins.com/catalog/Samurai.jpg>.
Seoul. Teach and Travel Jobs. Teach and Travel Jobs, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://www.teachandtraveljobs.com/images/seoul.jpg>.
Szczepanski, Kallie. “Feudal Japan’s Class Structure.” About.com. About.com, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://asianhistory.about.com/od/japan/p/ShogJapanClass.htm>.