Essay: To what extent was Japan modernized by 1920s?
Modernization is a process by which human beings progress in political, economic, social, intellectual and military aspects for the betterment of society as a whole. In the early 20th century, Japan achieved different levels of modernization in political, social, economic and cultural aspects. Although Japan still kept many traditional beliefs, it was the most modernized country in Asia at that time. Here, I will evaluate to what extent was Japan modernized by 1920s.
In political aspect, Japan copied the political system of the Western countries by gradually setting up its constitutional monarchy in the early 20th century. Under the Meiji Constitution, a cabinet headed by the Prime Minister was established and the Diet was convened. Election was also held, which the members of the House of Representatives of the Diet were elected by citizens. In 1918-1932, different forms of political parties were also implemented. All these had the features of Western democracy and was a proof of modernization.
However, Japanese autocratic tradition still remained in the political system. The Meiji Constitution stated that the Emperor was “sacred and inviolable”. It gave him unlimited power to control the Diet and to command the military. It also made the Prime Minister and all the Cabinet members answerable to him. Although the members of the House of Representatives of the Diet were elected by citizens, only very few people had the right to vote. In addition, the authority of the Diet was limited, and had no decision making power.
Moreover, the Meiji Constitution followed the tradition of respecting the status of soldiers. The military was an independent government department that was not controlled by the Prime Minister or the Diet. The Ministers of Army and Navy even had the right of direct access to the Emperor. Besides, only serving army and navy generals could be appointed as the Ministers of Army and Navy....
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