Meiji Period

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Before opening to the west Japan had a feudal political system, an inherited rigid social structure and a thriving economic system. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from 1603 until 1868, when it was abolished during the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji Restoration, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868. The Restoration led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure, and spanned both the late Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period. The Japanese Government took many steps to modernize and westernize japan in the years preceding 1914, including the charter oath, liberating trade for people, and there response to western pressures. These series of events have shaped Japan as we know it today.

The bakuhan taisei was the feudal political system in the Edo period of Japan. The shogun was the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. During the Edo period, effective power rested with Tokugawa. The role of the emperor was simply ceremonial. The shogun controlled the foreign policies, military and feudal patronage.

Under the seclusion policy, the Japanese enjoyed over two centuries of insular security and economic self-sufficiency. Economic development during this period included urbanization, increased shipping of commodities, a significant expansion of domestic and, initially, foreign commerce, and a diffusion of trade and handicraft industries. The construction trades flourished, along with banking facilities and merchant associations. And there was rise in agricultural production and the spread of rural handicrafts.

During the Tokugawa period, the social order, based on inherited position rather than personal merits, was rigid and highly formalized. At the top were the Emperor and Court nobles, together with the Shogun and daimyo. Below them the population was divided into four classes in a system known as the four tier system: the samurai on top and the peasants on the second level. Below the...
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