The rise of Japan, and also new developments in Korea and Vietnam, raise a crucial question about defining civilization. All these societies borrowed extensively from China. None, however, became Chinese. Japan, particularly, followed its own path in terms of its feudal development. Did Japan in turn share enough with China to allow the definition of a common origin? This question of defining civilization in terms of coherence applies to a number of regions, particularly when unusual levels of contact and imitation are involved. Some contend that there continue to be shared impulses between China and Japan which strongly stem from Confucianism. Is there an underlying East Asian civilization despite the incredible differences between the regional members? The challenge is to determine what definitions best fit the facts.

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