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During this relatively peaceful century Japan's population remained stable at about 30,000,000, kept down by widespread infanticide and occasional famine. An excess of rain and grasshoppers in 1732 reduced 2,600,000 people to near starvation while 12,400 people and still more horses and cattle died. (Ref. 222 ) But rice production increased as a result of improvement in seeds, irrigation and drainage systems, tools and commercialization of fertilizers made from sardines, colza, soya or cotton cake. In contrast to Europe, changes of fashion in dress did not occur in Japan and it is said that the nation had not changed its costume for over a thousand years. (Ref. 260 )

In the intellectual and philosophical realms, it should be mentioned that Japanese scholars completed some 58 years of work in 1715 in the 26 volumes called Dai Nihonshi (The Great History of Japan), but it was in manuscript form and kept out of print, so that only the aristocratic few had access to it. The Buddhist monks became quite degenerate and their religion lost its hold upon the nation, as the Shoguns went over to Confucianism . The civilization of the old Japan, like so many others, had begun with religion and was ending with philosophy. The retreat of Buddhism behind monastic walls was a defensive reaction to foreign cultural and political pressures. The Neo-Confucians sought to inculcate loyalty and obedience in all ranks, but some rejected this Sinification and sought new solutions. In 1779 the main line of the imperial family ended without male issue and a collateral house, the Kanins, took over and they were the one chiefly responsible for the revival of Shinto. The remodeled Shinto seems to have ideas borrowed from ecclesiastical and other notions of Christianity. It attempted to draw men's minds away from the Shogun and back to the emperor. In another direction, a handful of men began to penetrate the secrets of western civilization - chiefly through the Dutch language and books, with then some Japanese publications appearing on medicine, anatomy, astronomy and geography. (Ref. 46 , 12 )

Korea

Korea was a vassal of the Manchu Dynasty of China and political activity was at low ebb, while intellectual activity was intensive. For the most part, however, this activity was limited to considerations of moral philosophy and to genealogical research. In 1706 the Hyeonchungsa Shrine was erected near Asan in memory of the famous Admiral Yi on whom the government had already bestowed the title "Chungmu-Kong", meaning "Loyalty-Chivalry Lord". (Ref. 11 )

Southeast asia

Mainland southeast asia

Buddhism had become the palladium of both Burmese and Siamese ethnic identities, so that the fate of the religion was intertwined with the fate of those two nations. In Burma the Mons rebelled in 1740, setting up their own kingdom at Pegu and then returning to capture the Burmese capital, Ava, in 1752. But a new Burmese leader, Alaungpaya, continued the fight and finally defeated the Mons with their French allies, founding Rangoon in 1755 and re-uniting Burma. In 1759 the same king defeated the British East India Company on the island of Negrais and the British left Burma. But the nation's problems were not over. Between 1760 and 1769 the Chinese made four abortive invasion attempts and finally succeeded in making Burma a vassal state in 1771. The Burmese also warred some in late century with Siam, in an attempt to expand their territory. (Ref. 139 ) Siam continued to be a large country and extended down the Malay peninsula almost to Penang.

It was in 1767 that the Siamese capital at Ayudhya was ransacked by the Burmese, with buildings and art work destroyed and the royal family members killed or taken captive. When the Burmese were driven out in 1782 a new dynasty, the Chakkri (or Chakri), was established and it has continued in power to this day. (Ref. 262 ) The first of that dynasty, King Rama I, built Wat Phra Keo, a fantastic Theravada Buddhist temple in 1785. (Ref. 113 , 276 )

The area now known as Laos was comprised chiefly in the 18th century by the Kingdom of Lung Prabang, although as early as 1707 the southern part broke away to be part of Vientiene. Annam (Vietnam) got further territory, including the area of Saigon, from Cam bodia, but after 1775 the Vietnamese suffered internal problems, allowing the Thais (Siamese) to also invade Cambodia. (Ref. 175 , 9 ) Annam became a vassal state to China in 1788. On the Malay Peninsula, the British East India Company acquired Penang from the Sultan of Kedah for a naval station in 1786 and at the end of the century the British were beginning to move against the Dutch in the entire area. (Ref. 8 )

Indonesia and adjacent islands

Malaria arrived late in Indonesia, but practically destroyed Batavia (now Djarkarta) in 1732. (Ref. 260 ) The Dutch introduced coffee cultivation all along the north coast and the east end of Java, as well as in the Medura Islands, as they extended their political control. Indonesians were required to work in spice groves by local princelings who, in turn, were commanded by Dutch overseers. (Ref. 279 ) Later the English took Sumatra to hold for the Dutch and by the Treaty of Paris of 1783; they returned all colonies to the latter. But the aggressive English again conquered Sumatra in 1795 and by 1798 the Dutch East India Company was out of business. The British also temporarily occupied Manila in the Philippines between 1762 and 1764 and during that time opened that city to world commerce. When the Spanish regained control, however, they again closed the islands to international trade, although they exchanged American silver for Chinese silk there. (Ref. 8 , 213 )

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Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history. OpenStax CNX. Nov 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10595/1.3
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