Japan’s goal of achieving fukoku kyohei, “rich country; strong military”, fuelled major political, economic and social changes during the Meiji Restoration. By the 20th century, Japan had a modern constitution and national parliament, though it was not truly democratic. The modernization of the nation also made Japan richer and more economically stable, with a structured education system. Japan, an impotent, closed feudal state, was transformed into a formidable nation focused on nationalism.
In attempt to acquire strength and unity in the government, political changes focused on creating a centralized government and a western constitution. In consequence, the Japanese government became more united and organized. As the western nations were the most influential countries at the time, Japan believed that following a western example would prove most effective. In order to create a fully centralized government, feudalism was ended. The government was then able to establish power over all of the 260 feudal domains. “The court nobles and the feudal lords were given the same rank…compelled to hand back (land).” (Miocevich, 25) The use of the word ‘compelled’ suggests that there was some dissension within the government. There was also argument over public voice and the style of the constitution. As a result, the first constitution was abandoned, leading to the creation of a second Meiji Constitution in 1889. Although the government was still under imperial rule, it was slowly moving towards democracy, as a Prussian parliamentary system was adopted. Regardless, various parties were still excluded from political influence, as the oligarchy, ruling in the emperor’s name, continued to hold significant authority. The constitution did however foster a more organized and united government in Japan. During 1883, the Progressive Party founded by Okuma, which opposed the constitutional model, fell apart. All political parties eventually unified under one government. These...
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