A Comparison; The Ming and Tokugawa Period
The Ming dynasty achievement in rebuilding the empire and restoring Chinese pride ushered in a period of unprecedented economic and cultural growth on Song foundations but going far beyond where the Song had left off. There was rapid commercialization of the economy as a whole, an accompanying rise in the number and size of cities, and perhaps a doubling of total trade.
Tokugawa Ieyasu’s victory at Sekigahara in 1600 brought Japan the longest period of peace and stability in its history: it lasted until nearly the end of the shogunate I n1868. Rhodes Murphey discussed developments during the Tokugawa period saying, “A major result was economic ...view middle of the document...
The Ming administration had only one department, the Secretariat that controlled the six ministries. Emperor Hongwu abolished the Secretariat that censorate and the Chief Military Commission and personally took charge of the six ministries and the regional five military commissions. Hongwu also made the decision stating that, “Eunuchs must have nothing to do with the administration.” (Rhodes Murphey, East Asia, A New History, pg. 126)
The Tokugawa period from 1600-1867 was centralized. During the first two stages of the feudal time Japan was in political decentralization. The warrior families and territorial lords led to a locally political leadership. This system of centralized feudalism was stable for two and half centuries. “For the first time in Japanese feudal age the power was centralized and Japan became politically unified.” (Rhodes Murphey, East Asia, A New History, pg. 265)
The Tokugawa government came to rely on the ethical principles of Confucianism and by the concept of education. The samurai underwent a radical change in their style of life and thought. Education transformed the samurai class into a literate warrior-bureaucratic class and officialdom, deeply involved in ethical precepts.
The Tokugawa government created a balance of power that was influenced by Confucian principles of social order. The social order based on inherited position rather than personal merits was rigid and highly formalized. The emperor and court nobles were at the top and then four classes below them. The individual did not have any legal rights in Tokugawa Japan. The family was the smallest legal entity and the maintenance of family status and privileges was of great importance at all levels of society.
The economy of the Ming Dynasty was the largest in the world during that period. The manufacturing industry was more varied and advanced than the Song. The Ming reverted to the old laissez faire policies of the Han by privatizing the salt and tea industries. By the middle of the Ming Dynasty, powerful groups of wealthy merchants had replaced the state as the dominant movers behind Chinese industry. The Hongwu Emperor enacted pro-agricultural policies. Farmers introduced many innovations such as water-powered plows, and new agricultural methods such as crop rotation. This led to a massive agricultural surplus that became the basis of a market economy.
The fading of the warrior ethic and the transformation of many samurai into literate bureaucrats brought Japan more in line with the Chinese model in that important respect, and it made the doctrines of Confucianism more attractive with their emphasis on public duty, responsibility, and leadership through...