The Meiji Restoration

Topics: Meiji Restoration, Emperor of Japan, Japan Pages: 3 (987 words) Published: December 16, 2012
The Meiji Restoration was a significant turning point in Japanese history because it led to revolutionary changes in Japan’s economic and political structures. Commodore Matthew Perry’s arrival at Edo Bay (Tokyo was once named Edo) in 1853 demonstrated to Japan the superior military power of the West. Japan’s coast was not protected nor did the nation possess a navy capable of defending their marine food supply which helped feed Edo’s one million people. The Japanese reacted to their vulnerability by renewing the old spirit of the samurai warrior code, and championing the slogan sonno joi, “revere the emperor, expel the barbarians.” As a result of Perry’s arrival, Japan was headed in a new direction despite political turmoil and national disorganization. The Choshu and Satsuma daimyo (a feudal lord)allied together to remove the Tokugawa shogunate (the government of a shogun, who is a dictator ruler over daimyo) and instead restored power to the imperial emperor Meiji, thus this time period in Japan is known as the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji government discovered that if Japan were to protect its national sovereignty, it needed to change its direction by abandoning feudalism and uniting the daimyo under a central government. In addition, Japan decided to adopt the political and economic structures, social customs, and technology of the Western powers. The Meiji government believed that through Westernization they could modernize their economy, build their military, and be equal counterparts to the U.S., Great Britain, Russia, among others. Thus Perry and the showing of American military might was the spark that pivoted Japanese history in the new direction of modernization through Westernization. With a new direction chartered towards to modernization the Japanese began a series of transformations in the areas of economics and politics. The economic transformations were born from the Japanese slogan, fukoku kyohei, meaning “Enrich the country, strengthen the...
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