The ascension of Emperor Mutsuhito (Meiji) to the Japanese throne on the third of November 1852 marked the dawn of a revolution for the Japanese people. Mutsuhito, known posthumously as Meiji, literally meaning “Enlightened Rule” served as the figurehead to the Meiji Oligarchy, a privileged ruling class clique formed by powerful Samurai, which reformed and revolutionised Japan, transforming it into a world power within half a century. The Meiji Oligarchy succeeded the Tokugawa Shogunate, a feudal military dictatorship which had ruled Japan for 256 years. The Meiji leadership revolutionised Japan in response to the “Opening of Japan”, the arrival of the Black Ships, lead by Commodore Mathew Perry of the United States Navy. Under Meiji Restoration, Japan was modernised and revolutionised under the slogan "Enrich the country, strengthen the military" (Fukoku kyohei) and as the slogan suggests, militarism was a key factor in the revolution of Japan. Under the authority of the Emperor, the social system was restructured, extensively restructuring Japan’s governance and diminishing the power of the Samurai. The changes were all thanks to the extensive political reform which took place subsequent to the overthrow of the Tokugawa shoganate. Finally, the manner in which education was administered was modernized and offered to all citizens to cement the modernisation of the nation.
The most notable area of reform within Japan during Meiji’s reign was the militarisation of its people. This reform worked in parallel with the Meiji Restorations social reforms, in that the exclusive right to bear arms was stripped from the Samurai class and extended to the wider populace, as outlined in “The Modern History of Japan” . In 1873, 21 years after Meiji’s accession, conscription was introduced mandating compulsory military service for males turning 21 years of age for a four-year term. This was followed by a... [continues]
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