maeji

Maeji Restoration | World History | Free PDF Download

 

MAEJI RESTORATION

  • The Meiji Restoration also known as the Meiji Renovation, Revolution, Reform, or Renewal, was an event that restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji.
  • The goals of the restored government were expressed by the new Emperor in the Charter Oath. The Restoration led to enormous changes in Japan’s political and social structure and spanned the beginning of the Meiji period.

BACKGROUND

  • The Japanese knew that they were behind the Western world when American Commodore Matthew C. Perry came to Japan in 1853 in large warships with armament and technology that far outclassed those of Japan with the intent to conclude a treaty that would open up Japanese ports to trade.
  • The leaders of the Meiji Restoration, as this revolution came to be known, acted in the name of restoring imperial rule to strengthen Japan against the threat represented by the colonial powers of the day, bringing to an end the era known as sakoku.

 BACKGROUND

  • The foundation of the Meiji Restoration was the 1866 Satsuma-Chōshū Alliance between Saigō Takamori and Kido Takayoshi, leaders of the reformist and Chōshū Domain.
  • These two leaders supported the Emperor Kōmei (Emperor Meiji’s father) purpose of challenging the ruling Tokugawa shogunate (bakufu) and restoring the Emperor to power.
  • After Emperor Kōmei’s death on January 30, 1867, Emperor Meiji ascended the throne on February
  1. This period also saw Japan change from being a feudal society to having a market economy

CIVIL WAR(BOSHNI)

  • The restoration event itself consisted of a coup d’état in the ancient imperial capital of Kyōto on January 3, 1868.
  • The perpetrators announced the ouster of Tokugawa Yoshinobu (the last shogun)—who by late 1867 was no longer effectively in power—and proclaimed the young emperor to be the ruler of the Japan.
  • Finally, by 1872,it was declared that all domains were now to be returned to the Emperor. The roughly 280 domains were turned into 72 prefectures, each under the control of a stateappointed governor.

REFORMS

  • The early goals of the new government were expressed in the Charter Oath (April 1868). The first action, taken in 1868 while the country was still unsettled, was to relocate the imperial capital from Kyōto to the shogunal capital of Edo, which was renamed Tokyo (“eastern capital”).
  • That was followed, after the end of the fighting, by the dismantling of the old feudal regime. The administrative reorganization had been largely accomplished by 1871.
  • Also in 1871 a national army was formed, which was further strengthened two years later by a universal conscription law.

WAR

  • In addition, the new government carried out policies to unify the monetary and tax systems, with the agricultural tax reform of 1873 providing its primary source of revenue.
  • Another reform was the introduction in 1872 of universal education in the country, which initially put emphasis on Western learning.
  • Disgruntled samurai participated in several rebellions against the government.Those uprisings were repressed only with great difficulty by the newly formed army. Peasants, distrustful of the new regime and dissatisfied with its agrarian policies, also took part in revolts that reached their peak in the 1880s.

REFORMS

  • At the same time, a growing popular rights movement, encouraged by the introduction of liberal Western ideas, called for the creation of a constitutional government.
  • Responding to those pressures, the government issued a statement in 1881 promising a constitution by 1890. In 1885 a cabinet system was formed, and in 1886 work on the constitution began.
  • Finally in 1889 the Meiji Constitution, presented as a gift from the emperor to the people, was officially promulgated. It established a bicameral parliament, called the Diet—in full Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai)—to be elected through a limited voting franchise. The first Diet was convened the following year, 1890.

 ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • 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.
  • The first railroad was built in 1872, and by 1890 the country had more than 1,400 miles (2,250 km) of rail. Telegraph lines linked all major cities by 1880. Private firms were also encouraged by government financial support and aided by the institution of a European-style banking system in 1882.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • By the early 20th century, the goals of the Meiji Restoration had been largely accomplished. Japan was well on its way to becoming a modern industrialized country.
  • The unequal treaties that had granted foreign powers judicial and economic privileges through extraterritoriality were revised in 1894, and with the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 and its victory in two wars (over China in 1894–95 and Russia in 1904–05), Japan gained respect in the eyes of the Western world, appearing for the first time on the international scene as a major world power. The death of the emperor Meiji in 1912 marked the end of the period.

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