History 240 -01 Paper 1 (Spring 2013)
The Controversy of the Modernization of Japan (late 1800s-early 1900s)
During the Meiji era, Japan underwent a major change from functioning and running under the system Tokugawa shogunate to the modern era. The Meiji era brought about changes that affected Japan’s social, economic, political, military and foreign relations policies. Drawing upon influences from Europe and America, many Japanese people embraced modernization as an attempt to be able to stand up in their own right as a nation.
With the Meiji Restoration, Japan’s government changed tremendously in education, commerce and industry. Japan was able to make this change because it allowed itself to be open to Europe and America by “foreign intercourse” as Shigenobu Okuma stated in Fifty Years of New Japan (as essay that describes the changes that took place during a period of 50 years in Japan), “Foreign intercourse it was that animated the national consciousness of our people, who under the feudal system lived localized and disunited, and foreign intercourse it is that has enabled Japan to stand up as a world power.” (Okuma, pg. 1) He argued that the reason Japan succeeded in many changes that it underwent during this period was due to the influence that came from foreign civilizations.
One of the first documents to be drawn up under the changes of this new Japanese government was the Charter Oath. The Charter Oath was given by the newly enthroned Emperor Meiji on April 7, 1868. It was his first act of major historical importance that presented a guideline for the Japanese people on how they were to go about living their lives. (Schoppa, 150) Building further upon the changes that were happening in the government, the Charter Oath included five articles by which Japanese...
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