Constitutional Minipaper: Comparing the Meiji and Macarthur Constituti

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Michael H. Foki
History of Japan
Constitution Mini Paper
12122

Two major changes in government were the driving force for the Meiji and 1947 (MacArthur) Constitutions to be drafted in Japan. The Meiji Constitution presented in 1889, was created during an era of restoration that reestablished the Emperor as head of the Japanese government and its people. This document served to not only bring back an old form of government to the Japanese, but effectively ended a disorganized duel system of government (Emperor and Bakufu) and unified a nation in order to compete with western powers. The occupation of Japan by the United States after Word War II also served to bring about great change in Japanese government. The result of this occupation was a drastic alteration of Meiji government along with its constitution in order to quill fears of Japanese aggression reemerging in the future. Both the Meiji and 1947 constitutions were major turning points in Japanese history, and can be compared due to their similarity.

Known as the Meiji Era (1868-1912) Japan was in a process of reconstructing its self into a modern nation when the right elements existed to make a constitution. With the Emperor as their national symbol, Japans people railed to the threat of Western powers taking over their country. Beginning in 1853 a policy of isolation that was well established for close to 200 years came to an end. Commodore Matthew Perry and a fleet of American warships sailed into Tokyo bay with a request to open its ports for trade. Out matched by western technology and aware of imperialism being posed on china the Japanese had no choice but to open their nation to the world. The arrival of the west not only opened Japans ports but also resulted in a series of unequal treaties signed between the feudal Takugawa Shogunate and the Americans, British, and Dutch. To the Japanese people any treaties signed were unacceptable and something had to be done about it. Open rebellion...
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