“Meiji Era’s (1868-1912) Importance in Japanese Modernization.”

Topics: Empire of Japan, Meiji Restoration, Samurai Pages: 9 (3126 words) Published: May 7, 2013
“MEIJI ERA’s (1868-1912) IMPORTANCE IN JAPANESE MODERNIZATION.” Japan is a country that has never been colonised and was never colonised during the colonial period. It was governed by the Emperors, Shoguns, Daimyos and the Samurais through the feudal structure of governance with the Emperor as the head of the hierarchy. It maintained its isolationist policy and never opened-up to the outside world for centuries and was in a stagnant stage in terms of development. However, in the 19th Century it dumped its feudal past and subsequently emerged stronger and economically superior after the rubbles left behind by the Pacific War in the 20th Century. Japan showed her strength in the two World Wars. Japan is now ranked one of the world’s largest power/economy behind The United States and China. It is regarded as a distinct civilization of its own, with very unique history. To fully understand present day Japan and its economic miracle, critical investigation needs to be done on its past history to see where its foundation of modernity and industrialization has been laid. When investigation was done, it showed that the Meiji Era (1868-1912) is considered to be the upward trajectory that fired-up Japanese industrialization and helped establish its modernization path. This started when Japan’s pre-modern political system and its feudal society (1603-1865): the Edo Period, led by the Tokugawa Shogunate, with its band of radical samurais was ended in 1868. The Tokugawa Shogunate/central Government at Edo was weak, corrupt, and incompetent to cope with foreign pressures. In the chaotic and desperate circumstances that ensured, some rural educated Samurais led the banner of the emperor. This is called the Meiji Restoration, wherein the foundation of the contemporary Japan was laid in or about 1868. The Meiji Restoration or Japan was restored by restructuring and restoring various vital areas of Japan. They took measures that had both good and bad sides and for the betterment of Japan but transformation was not achieved overnight. It took years and better planning with various people to transform Japan. They imported ideas from the west but modified and instituted them in Japanese-ways for better understanding, practice and stability. Social Reform was the first measure taken that would abolish the traditional feudal structure. Others include the expansion of militarism and industry, drafting of Meiji constitution, reformation of education, religion and law, and the designing of Meiji Literature. These are the measures that were taken by the Meiji Reformers to put Japan on a new track where it headed for modernization. Meiji Restoration.

The Meiji Period (1868-1912) began with restoration of Emperor Mutsuhito to the throne in 1868. The Meiji Restoration marks the birth of Japan as a modern nation, the abolition of the feudal system and restructured Japan along Western lines. In 1868 the Tokugawa shogun ("great general"), who ruled Japan in the feudal period, lost his power and the emperor was restored to the supreme position. The emperor took the name Meiji ("enlightened rule") as his reign name; this event was known as the Meiji Restoration. When the Meiji emperor was restored as head of Japan in 1868, the nation was a militarily weak country, was primarily agricultural, and had little technological development. It was controlled by hundreds of semi-independent feudal lords. The Western powers - Europe and the United States - had forced Japan to sign treaties that limited its control over its own foreign trade and required that crimes concerning foreigners in Japan be tried not in Japanese but in Western courts. All these weakness were solved by the Meiji Restoration Era to some degree if not fully. Meiji Reform Measures

The overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate was described as a restoration of imperial authority, but the new imperial government soon launched a sweeping program to transform Japan into a modern nation state. The core...

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