The Meiji Era and Japan's Journey to Modernization

Topics: Empire of Japan, Meiji period, Japan Pages: 4 (1502 words) Published: March 14, 2007
The Meiji Period is a term used to refer to the 45-year reign of Emperor Meiji in Japan, which lasted from 1868 to 1912. The Meiji Period marked the end of the Tokagawa era in Japan and was a major shift in Japanese culture as well as the way of life. There were major reforms in Japanese law, society, government, the military and economics during the Meiji regime. It took Japan from a world isolated from the outside world to one that was a major player in the global economy and world politics in a very short amount of time. This process brought many positives but also some negatives dealing with ancient Japanese culture and older ways of life. The first reform of the Meiji Period was the Five Charter Oath, set out in 1868. The Five Charter Oath was designed to state the aims of the new Meiji government clearly, in order to boost public opinion and support for the government and the new designs and systems that would be in place. (Charter Oath, Wikipedia) This Oath included clauses dictating the establishment of a representative assembly, the agreement that all classes would be included in governmental decisions, and more freedom in terms of mobility in occupations and social structure. Also, there were reforms within the legal system to replace outdated customs with laws and rules that were more fair to citizens, and there was an increased commitment to education and knowledge within society. (Wikipedia) The Five Charter Oath paved the way for a more democratic and modern form of government and a constitution dictating the terms of that government. The ruling classes underwent intense changes under the Meiji Period, with new ranks established for people who had performed notable services for the emperor. The former system of daimyo, or feudal leaders, and the samurai were replaced by the new system. (Mayer, Japanese Modern State Formation) Only a select few of the former ruling classes were selected for noble rankings, and many former daimyo found themselves as...
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