The Meiji Restoration

university of georgia| The Meiji Period made Japan big! | Midterm Question 2| | christian driver| 10/23/2012| | The Meiji restoration in Japan is known as the end of Japan’s isolationism, and its entrance into the world as a global player. However, the Meiji restoration is chiefly responsible for the development and advancement of Japan as an eastern world power. Japan’s economy was greatly bolstered and new philosophies and ideals from the west flooded in. These ideas opened minds to different ways of thought.

The reason the Meiji restoration took place is due to the western powers and cultural and political turmoil. When the “black ships” arrived in Japan, the Tokugawa shogun realized that they were technologically outclassed by the western nations, he agreed to treaties that put the west at an advantage, and Japan at a disadvantage. Many leaders were angered by these treaties and feared that Japan would share the same fate as many other Asian countries. Thus, the Meiji emperor was “restored” to power, but he did not rule directly.

He was expected to accept the advice of the daimyo that had overthrown the shogun, and it was from this group that a small number of ambitious, able and patriotic young men from the lower ranks of the samurai emerged, to take control and establish the new political system. At first, their only strength was that the emperor accepted their advice. In addition several powerful feudal domains provided military support. They moved quickly, however to build their own military and economic control.

By July 1869, the feudal lord had been requested to give up their domains, and in 1871 these domains were abolished and transformed into prefectures of a unified central state. The abolition of feudalism made tremendous social and political changes possible. Because of the Meiji reforms millions of people were suddenly free to choose their occupation and move about without restrictions. By providing a new environment of political and financial security, the government made investments in new industries and technologies possible.

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The government led the way by building railways and shipping lines, telegraph and telephone systems; three shipyards, ten mines, five munitions works, and fifty three consumer industries (making sugar, glass, textiles. cement. chemicals, and other important products)[Taira,85]. This was very expensive, however and strained government finances, so that in 1880 the government decided to sell most of these industries to private investors, encouraging such activity though subsidies and other incentives.

Some of the daimyo and merchants who built these industries established major corporate conglomerates called zaibatsu, which controlled much of japans modern industrial sector. The government also introduced national educational systems and a constitution creating an elected parliament called the diet. They did this to provide a good environment for national growth, win the respect of the westerners, and build support for the modern state.

In the Tokugawa period, popular education had spread rapidly, and by 1872 the government established a national system to educate the entire population. By the end of the Meiji period, almost everyone attended the free public schools for at least six years. The government closely controlled the schools; making sure that in addition to the skills like mathematics and reading all students studied “moral training”, which stressed the importance of their duty to the emperor, the country and their families [Fridell, 823].

Catching up on the military sector was a high priority for Japan in the era of European and American imperialism. To win the recognition of the western powers and convince them to change the unequal treaties that Japan had been forced to sign in the 1850’s, Japan changed its entire legal system, adopting a new criminal and civil code modeled after those of France and Germany. The western nations finally agreed to revise the treaties in 1894, acknowledging Japan as a equal in principle, although not as an international power.

Universal conscription was introduced, a new modeled army after the Prussian force, and a navy modeled after the British was established which led to new conflicts of interest in Korea and Manchuria. This time between Russia and Japan , led to the Russo-Japanese war in 1904-05. The Japanese army won this war, gaining territory and finally some international respect. Japan further increased its influence on Korea and annexed it completely in 1910 [parsons,23]. In Japan, the success in war caused nationalism to increase ven more, and other Asian nations also started to develop national self confidence. The relatively quick success of the Japanese was not to be attributed mainly to external factors, such as the impact of the west on Japan, because other countries of comparable experience or size reacted quite differently to external variants and pressures. The reasons should rather be sought in internal changes, such as the great homogeneity of the Japanese people and their strong self-identity. Their awareness of the possibilities of learning abroad was also a distinct advantage.

Even the social tensions of the late Tokugawa times were an asset to a country facing great changes. And it should be remembered that, though Japan was preindustrial in economy and feudal in political pattern, its economic and political institutions were highly complex and sophisticated. The country had standards of bureaucratic rule that did not suffer by comparison with the west in honesty or efficiency. With perhaps 45 percent of its men and 15 percent of its women literate, Japan also was not far behind the leading countries of the West in literacy levels.

Another important factor was that the change could be justified by Japanese minds, not through newly learned foreign concepts, such as democracy or, later, communism, but by Japan’s own ancient system of imperial rule. The utilization of a native ideology undoubtedly smoothed an otherwise wrenching change and made it somewhat less traumatic. Japan became a very robust nation with as much potential as any western country. The Meiji reforms helped create an industrial, capitalist state with a powerful economy and military.

The government also introduced a constitution by creating an elected parliament called the diet to win the respect of westerns and to generate a good environment for national growth. Japan gained recognition by the West and stayed an independent country. The Meiji restoration was very significant and fundamental for Japanese economy and the recognition of the rest of the world. Millions of people were suddenly free to choose their occupation and move without trouble.

The main effect of the Meiji restoration was that it formed a strong, unified and centralized government which regulated all the aspects of society and in addition the government set up new universities and new school to teach people the modern technology. Work sited Cite your info here, this is an example of how to do it! Straight copied and pasted from the jstor: The Abdominal Skeleton of Tropidurid Lizards (Squamata: Tropiduridae) Omar Torres-Carvajal Herpetologica , Vol. 60, No. 1 (Mar. , 2004), pp. 75-83 Published by: Herpetologists’ League Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org. proxy-remote. galib. uga. du/stable/3893573 This is how you edit it ! Omar Torres-Carvajal,The Abdominal Skeleton of Tropidurid Lizards (Squamata: Tropiduridae), Herpetologica , Vol. 60, No. 1 (Mar. , 2004), pp. 75-83,Herpetologists’ League, http://www. jstor. org. proxy-remote. galib. uga. edu/stable/3893573 Remember to catalogue multiple citations in alphabetical order and to indent every line after the first one. Take out extra words such as “Published by”, etc. and try to remove the hyperlinks! Everything else is edited, but since I did not receive the citations you have to edit this yourself! Good luck and see you tomorrow in class!

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