Those men were motivated by growing domestic problems and by the threat of foreign encroachment. The Meiji emperor proclaiming the Meiji Constitution in That was followed, after the end of the fighting, by the dismantling of the old feudal regime. The administrative reorganization had been largely accomplished bywhen the domains were officially abolished and replaced by a prefecture system that has remained in place to the present day.
The emperor took the name Meiji "enlightened rule" as his reign name; this event was known as the Meiji Restoration.
The Reign of the Meiji Emperor When the Meiji emperor was restored as head of Japan inthe nation was a militarily weak country, was primarily agricultural, and had little technological development. It was controlled by hundreds of semi-independent feudal lords. The Western powers — Europe and the United States — had forced Japan to sign treaties that limited its control over its own foreign trade and required that crimes concerning foreigners in Japan be tried not in Japanese but in Western courts.
Japan had regained complete control of its foreign trade and legal system, and, by fighting and winning two wars one of them against a major European power, Russiait had established full independence and equality in international affairs. In a little more than a generation, Japan had exceeded its goals, and in the process had changed its whole society.
One answer is found in the Meiji Restoration itself. This political revolution "restored" the emperor to power, but he did not rule directly. At first, their only strength was that the emperor accepted their advice and several powerful feudal domains provided military support.
They moved quickly, however, to build their own military and economic control. By July the feudal lords had been requested to give up their domains, and in these domains were abolished and transformed into prefectures of a unified central state.
The feudal lords and the samurai class were offered a yearly stipend, which was later changed to a one-time payment in government bonds. The samurai lost their class privileges, when the government declared all classes to be equal. A national land tax system was established that required payment in money instead of rice, which allowed the government to stabilize the national budget.
This gave the government money to spend to build up the strength of the nation. Resistance and Rebellion Defeated Although these changes were made in the name of the emperor and national defense, the loss of privileges brought some resentment and rebellion.
This would help patriotic samurai to regain their importance. But the new leaders quickly returned from Europe and reestablished their control, arguing that Japan should concentrate on its own modernization and not engage in such foreign adventures.
Ideology In an effort to unite the Japanese nation in response to the Western challenge, the Meiji leaders created a civic ideology centered around the emperor. Although the emperor wielded no political power, he had long been viewed as a symbol of Japanese culture and historical continuity.
Westerners of that time knew him primarily as a ceremonial figure. The people seldom saw the emperor, yet they were to carry out his orders without question, in honor to him and to the unity of the Japanese people, which he represented. In fact, the emperor did not rule.
It was his "advisers," the small group of men who exercised political control, that devised and carried out the reform program in the name of the emperor. Social and Economic Changes The abolition of feudalism made possible tremendous social and political changes.
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 possible investment in new industries and technologies. The government led the way in this, building railway 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.
This was very expensive, however, and strained government finances, so in the government decided to sell most of these industries to private investors, thereafter encouraging such activity through subsidies and other incentives.
The government also introduced a national educational system 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 in 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 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. The constitution was "given" to the people by the emperor, and only he or his advisers could change it.
A parliament was elected beginning inbut only the wealthiest one percent of the population could vote in elections. In this was changed to allow all men but not yet women to vote. To win the recognition of the Western powers and convince them to change the unequal treaties the Japanese had been forced to sign in the 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 inacknowledging Japan as an equal in principle, although not in international power. Colonialism and Expansion In Japan fought a war against China over its interest in Korea, which China claimed as a vassal state. The Korean peninsula is the closest part of Asia to Japan, less than miles by sea, and the Japanese were worried that the Russians might gain control of that weak nation.
Japan won the war and gained control over Korea and gained Taiwan as a colony.development and history during the s to early s. At the starting point of modern economic growth when Japan became an open economy in the late s, a huge gap.
The introduction of the assembly line and the electrical motor produced 20 years of upheaval in industrial organization and management strategies. It was the combination of associated institutional changes (including educational, legal, and financial systems) and entrepreneurial creativity that eventually led to rapid productivity growth in the business sector.
Economic and social changes paralleled the political transformation of the Meiji period. Although the economy still depended on agriculture, industrialization was the primary goal of the government, which directed the development of strategic industries, transportation, and communications.
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