Difference between revisions of "Meiji Restoration"

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(New page: The phrase '''Meiji restoration''' ''(明治維新 Meiji-ishin)'' refers to both the events of 1868 that led to the “restoration” of power to the emperor, as well as the entire period ...)
 
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The phrase '''Meiji restoration''' ''(明治維新 Meiji-ishin)'' refers to both the events of 1868 that led to the “restoration” of power to the emperor, as well as the entire period of revolutionary changes that coincided with the [[Meiji]] emperor's reign (1868–1912)<ref>W. G. Beasley, The Meiji Restoration (1972)</ref>.<br />
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{{copyvio}}The phrase '''Meiji restoration''' ''(明治維新 Meiji-ishin)'' refers to both the events of 1868 that led to the “restoration” of power to the emperor, as well as the entire period of revolutionary changes that coincided with the [[Meiji]] emperor's reign (1868–1912)<ref>W. G. Beasley, The Meiji Restoration (1972)</ref>.<br />
  
 
== History ==
 
== History ==
The intrusion of Western powers, particularly the Americans under Admiral [[Matthew C. Perry]], precipitated further discontent. Under pressure, the Tokugawa shogunate submitted in 1854 to foreign demands and signed treaties that ended Japan's isolation. Like other subjugated Asian nations, these treaties with the Western powers were extremely unequal, granting the Westerners one-sided economical and legal advantages in Japan. In order to regain independence from the [[Europeans]] and [[Americans]] and establish herself as a respected nation in the world, Meiji Japan was determined to close the gap to the Western powers economically and militarily. Drastic reforms were carried out in practically all areas.<ref>K. B. Pyle, The New Generation in Meiji Japan (1969)</ref><br />
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The intrusion of Western powers, particularly the Americans under Admiral [[Matthew C. Perry]], precipitated further discontent. copied from the [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Meijires.html]
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Under pressure, the Tokugawa shogunate submitted in 1854 to foreign demands and signed treaties that ended Japan's isolation. Like other subjugated Asian nations, these treaties with the Western powers were extremely unequal, granting the Westerners one-sided economical and legal advantages in Japan. In order to regain independence from the [[Europeans]] and [[Americans]] and establish herself as a respected nation in the world, Meiji Japan was determined to close the gap to the Western powers economically and militarily. Drastic reforms were carried out in practically all areas.<ref>K. B. Pyle, The New Generation in Meiji Japan (1969)</ref><br />
  
 
The powerful [[Choshu]] and [[Satsuma]] domains of Western Japan tried to resist the foreigners on their own and were finally defeated in 1863. These domains, excluded from the Tokugawa governing councils because of their status as [[tozama]], or outside daimyo, then demanded creation of a new government loyal to the emperor to expel the foreigners. In January 1868, [[Samurai]] from these domains, with the support of anti-Tokugawa court nobles, succeeded in a palace coup that abolished the shogunate and “returned” power to the emperor. The court was moved from Kyoto to Edo (later renamed Tokyo, meaning Eastern Capital), where a centralized administration was created.<br />
 
The powerful [[Choshu]] and [[Satsuma]] domains of Western Japan tried to resist the foreigners on their own and were finally defeated in 1863. These domains, excluded from the Tokugawa governing councils because of their status as [[tozama]], or outside daimyo, then demanded creation of a new government loyal to the emperor to expel the foreigners. In January 1868, [[Samurai]] from these domains, with the support of anti-Tokugawa court nobles, succeeded in a palace coup that abolished the shogunate and “returned” power to the emperor. The court was moved from Kyoto to Edo (later renamed Tokyo, meaning Eastern Capital), where a centralized administration was created.<br />

Revision as of 06:49, 15 March 2008

Template:CopyvioThe phrase Meiji restoration (明治維新 Meiji-ishin) refers to both the events of 1868 that led to the “restoration” of power to the emperor, as well as the entire period of revolutionary changes that coincided with the Meiji emperor's reign (1868–1912)[1].

History

The intrusion of Western powers, particularly the Americans under Admiral Matthew C. Perry, precipitated further discontent. copied from the [1] Under pressure, the Tokugawa shogunate submitted in 1854 to foreign demands and signed treaties that ended Japan's isolation. Like other subjugated Asian nations, these treaties with the Western powers were extremely unequal, granting the Westerners one-sided economical and legal advantages in Japan. In order to regain independence from the Europeans and Americans and establish herself as a respected nation in the world, Meiji Japan was determined to close the gap to the Western powers economically and militarily. Drastic reforms were carried out in practically all areas.[2]

The powerful Choshu and Satsuma domains of Western Japan tried to resist the foreigners on their own and were finally defeated in 1863. These domains, excluded from the Tokugawa governing councils because of their status as tozama, or outside daimyo, then demanded creation of a new government loyal to the emperor to expel the foreigners. In January 1868, Samurai from these domains, with the support of anti-Tokugawa court nobles, succeeded in a palace coup that abolished the shogunate and “returned” power to the emperor. The court was moved from Kyoto to Edo (later renamed Tokyo, meaning Eastern Capital), where a centralized administration was created.

Reforms

Drastic reforms were carried out in practically all areas, under the slogan 富国挙兵, or enrich the country and strengthen the military) - the spamblocker doesn't allow the Romaji translation, as the new government aimed to make Japan a democratic state with equality among all its people. The boundaries between the social classes of Tokugawa Japan were gradually broken down. Consequently, the samurai were the big losers of those social reforms since they lost all their privileges. The reforms also included the establishment of human rights such as religious freedom in 1873.[3]

In order to stabilize the new government, the former feudal lords (daimyo) had to return all their lands to the emperor. This was achieved already in 1870 and followed by the restructuring of the country in prefectures. The education system was reformed after the French and later after the German system. Among those reforms was the introduction of compulsory education. In addition, many many Japanese scholars and politicians (such as Ito Hirobumi or Saionji Kinmochi) were sent to study the Western system and technologies in Europe and North America, and Westerners invited to Japan to help develop new industries.[4]

It was around this time that beer brewing, the manufacture of dairy products and Japan's first railway were all introduced under the supervision of Westerners. In order to transform the agrarian economy of Tokugawa Japan into a developed industrial one, many Japanese scholars were sent abroad to study Western science and languages, while foreign experts taught in Japan. The transportation and communication networks were improved by means of large governmental investments. The government also directly supported the prospering of businesses and industries, especially the large and powerful family businesses called zaibatsu.[5]

Catching up on the military sector was, of course, a high priority for Japan in an era of European and American imperialism. Universal conscription was introduced, and a new army modelled after the Prussian force, and a navy after the British one were established.

Setbacks

After about one to two decades of intensive westernization, a revival of conservative and nationalistic feelings took place: principles of Confucianism and Shinto including the worship of the emperor were increasingly emphasized and taught at educational institutions.

The large expenditures led to a financial crisis in the middle of the 1880's which was followed by a reform of the currency system and the establishment of the Bank of Japan. The textile industry grew fastest and remained the largest Japanese industry until WW2. Work conditions in the early factories were very bad, but developing socialist and liberal movements were soon suppressed by the ruling clique.

Politics

Japan received its first European-style constitution in 1889. A parliament, the Diet was established, although the Emperor maintained his sovereignty: he headed up the army and navy, as well as wielding executive and legislative power. The ruling clique, however, kept holding the reigns of actual power, and the able and intelligent emperor Meiji agreed with most of their actions. Political parties did not yet gain real power due to the lack of unity among their members.

Conflicts of interests in Korea between China and Japan led to the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95. Japan defeated China, annexed Taiwan, but was forced by Russia, France and Germany to relinquish other territories. This so-called Triple Intervention caused the Japanese army and navy to intensify their rearmament.

New conflicts of interests between Russia and Japan in Korea and Manchuria, led to the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05. The Japanese army won this war, thus gaining additional territory, including the full annexation of Korea in 1910, and international respect. The successes in the recent wars caused nationalism to increase even more, which filtered through to other Asian nations, who also started to develop national self confidence. In addition, it finally allowed Japan to tear up the one-sided treaties with the West, and finally emerge as a world power.[6]

End of an Era

In 1912 emperor Meiji died, and the era of the ruling clique of elder statesmen (genro) was about to end.


References

  1. W. G. Beasley, The Meiji Restoration (1972)
  2. K. B. Pyle, The New Generation in Meiji Japan (1969)
  3. M. Umegaki, After the Restoration: The Beginning of Japan's Modern State (1988)
  4. K. B. Pyle, The New Generation in Meiji Japan (1969)
  5. Wall, Rachel F., Japan's Century: An Interpretation of Japanese History since the Eighteen-fifties (1971)
  6. M. Umegaki, After the Restoration: The Beginning of Japan's Modern State (1988)