The Info List - Meiji Restoration

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The Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
(明治維新, Meiji Ishin), also known as the Meiji Ishin, Renovation, Revolution, Reform, or Renewal, was an event that restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. Although there were ruling Emperors before the Meiji Restoration, the events restored practical abilities and consolidated the political system under the Emperor of Japan.[2] 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 both the late Edo period (often called the Bakumatsu) and the beginning of the Meiji period.


1 Foreign influence 2 Imperial restoration 3 End of the shogunate 4 Military reform 5 Centralization

5.1 Industrial growth

6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Foreign influence[edit] The Japanese knew that they were behind the Western world when American Commodore Matthew C. Perry
Matthew C. Perry
came to Japan in large warships with armament and technology that far outclassed those of Japan, to try to conclude a treaty that would open up Japanese ports to trade.[1] Figures like Shimazu Nariakira
Shimazu Nariakira
concluded that "if we take the initiative, we can dominate; if we do not, we will be dominated", leading Japan to "throw open its doors to foreign technology." Observing Japan's response to the Western powers, Chinese general Li Hongzhang considered Japan to be China's "principal security threat" as early as 1863, five years before the Meiji Restoration.[2] 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 (the foreign relations policy, lasting about 250 years, prescribing the death penalty for foreigners entering or Japanese nationals leaving the country). The word "Meiji" means "enlightened rule" and the goal was to combine "modern advances" with traditional "eastern" values.[3] The main leaders of this were Itō Hirobumi, Matsukata Masayoshi, Kido Takayoshi, Itagaki Taisuke, Yamagata Aritomo, Mori Arinori, Ōkubo Toshimichi, and Yamaguchi Naoyoshi. Imperial restoration[edit] The foundation of the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
was the 1866 Satsuma-Chōshū Alliance between Saigō Takamori
Saigō Takamori
and Kido Takayoshi, leaders of the reformist elements in the Satsuma Domain
Satsuma Domain
and Chōshū Domain. These two leaders supported the Emperor Kōmei
Emperor Kōmei
(Emperor Meiji's father) and were brought together by Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
for the purpose of challenging the ruling Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
(bakufu) and restoring the Emperor to power. After Emperor Kōmei's death on January 30, 1867, Emperor Meiji
Emperor Meiji
ascended the throne on February 3. This period also saw Japan change from being a feudal society to having a market economy and left the Japanese with a lingering Western influence.[citation needed] End of the shogunate[edit] Main article: Bakumatsu The Tokugawa government focused on reestablishing order in social, political and international affairs after a century of warfare. The political structure, established by Ieyasu and solidified under his two immediate successors, his son Hidetada (who ruled from 1616-23) and grandson Iemitsu (1623-51), bound all daimyos to the shogunate and limited any individual daimyo from acquiring too much land or power.[4] The Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
came to its official end on November 9, 1867, when Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th Tokugawa shōgun, "put his prerogatives at the Emperor's disposal" and resigned 10 days later.[5] This was effectively the "restoration" (Taisei Hōkan) of imperial rule – although Yoshinobu still had significant influence and it was not until January 3, the following year, with the young Emperor's edict that the restoration fully occurred.[6] Shortly thereafter in January 1868, the Boshin War
Boshin War
(War of the Year of the Dragon) started with the Battle of Toba–Fushimi
Battle of Toba–Fushimi
in which Chōshū and Satsuma's forces defeated the ex-shōgun's army. This forced (or allowed) the Emperor to strip Yoshinobu of all power, setting the stage for official restoration. On January 3, 1868, the Emperor made a formal declaration of the restoration of his power:[citation needed]

The Emperor of Japan
Emperor of Japan
announces to the sovereigns of all foreign countries and to their subjects that permission has been granted to the Shōgun
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
to return the governing power in accordance with his own request. We shall henceforward exercise supreme authority in all the internal and external affairs of the country. Consequently, the title of Emperor must be substituted for that of Taikun, in which the treaties have been made. Officers are being appointed by us to the conduct of foreign affairs. It is desirable that the representatives of the treaty powers recognize this announcement. — Mutsuhito, January 3, 1868[7]

All Tokugawa lands were seized and placed under "imperial control", thus placing them under the prerogative of the new Meiji government. With Fuhanken sanchisei, the areas were split into three types: urban prefectures (府, fu), rural prefectures (県, ken) and the already existing domains. In 1869, the daimyōs of the Tosa, Hizen, Satsuma and Chōshū Domains, who were pushing most fiercely against the shogunate, were persuaded to "return their domains to the Emperor". Other daimyo were subsequently persuaded to do so, thus creating, arguably for the first time, a central government in Japan which exercised direct power through the entire "realm" (天下). Some shogunate forces escaped to Hokkaidō, where they attempted to set up a breakaway Republic of Ezo; however, forces loyal to the Emperor ended this attempt in May 1869 with the Battle of Hakodate
Battle of Hakodate
in Hokkaidō. The defeat of the armies of the former shōgun (led by Enomoto Takeaki
Enomoto Takeaki
and Hijikata Toshizō) marked the final end of the Tokugawa shogunate, with the Emperor's power fully restored.[citation needed] Finally, by 1872, the daimyōs, past and present, were summoned before the Emperor, where 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 state-appointed governor. If the daimyōs peacefully complied, they were given a prominent voice in the new Meiji government. Later, their debts and payments of samurai stipends were either taxed heavily or turned in to bonds which resulted in a large loss of wealth among former samurai.[8] Military reform[edit] Main articles: Meiji period, Government of Meiji Japan, Meiji Constitution, and Abolition of the han system The Meiji Emperor announced in his 1868 Charter Oath
Charter Oath
that "Knowledge shall be sought all over the world, and thereby the foundations of imperial rule shall be strengthened."[9] Under the leadership of Mori Arinori, a group of prominent Japanese intellectuals went on to form the Meiji Six Society in 1873 to continue to "promote civilization and enlightenment" through modern ethics and ideas. However, during the restoration, political power simply moved from the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
to an oligarchy consisting of these leaders, mostly from the Satsuma Province
Satsuma Province
( Ōkubo Toshimichi
Ōkubo Toshimichi
and Saigō Takamori), and Chōshū Province
Chōshū Province
(Itō Hirobumi, Yamagata Aritomo, and Kido Takayoshi). This reflected their belief in the more traditional practice of imperial rule, whereby the Emperor of Japan serves solely as the spiritual authority of the nation and his ministers govern the nation in his name.[citation needed] The Meiji oligarchy
Meiji oligarchy
that formed the government under the rule of the Emperor first introduced measures to consolidate their power against the remnants of the Edo period
Edo period
government, the shogunate, daimyōs, and the samurai class. The oligarchs also endeavored to abolish the four divisions of society.[citation needed]

The Tokyo
Koishikawa Arsenal
Koishikawa Arsenal
was established in 1871

Throughout Japan at the time, the samurai numbered 1.9 million. (For comparison, this was more than 10 times the size of the French privileged class before the 1789 French Revolution. Moreover, the samurai in Japan were not merely the lords, but also their higher retainers—people who actually worked.) With each samurai being paid fixed stipends, their upkeep presented a tremendous financial burden, which may have prompted the oligarchs to action. Whatever their true intentions, the oligarchs embarked on another slow and deliberate process to abolish the samurai class. First, in 1873, it was announced that the samurai stipends were to be taxed on a rolling basis. Later, in 1874, the samurai were given the option to convert their stipends into government bonds. Finally, in 1876, this commutation was made compulsory.[citation needed] To reform the military, the government instituted nationwide conscription in 1873, mandating that every male would serve for four years in the armed forces upon turning 21 years old, followed by three more years in the reserves. One of the primary differences between the samurai and peasant classes was the right to bear arms; this ancient privilege was suddenly extended to every male in the nation. Furthermore, samurai were no longer allowed to walk about town bearing a sword or weapon to show their status. This led to a series of riots from disgruntled samurai. One of the major riots was the one led by Saigō Takamori, the Satsuma Rebellion, which eventually turned into a civil war. This rebellion was, however, put down swiftly by the newly formed Imperial Japanese Army, trained in Western tactics and weapons, even though the core of the new army was the Tokyo
police force, which was largely composed of former samurai. This sent a strong message to the dissenting samurai that their time was indeed over. There were fewer subsequent samurai uprisings and the distinction became all but a name as the samurai joined the new society. The ideal of samurai military spirit lived on in romanticized form and was often used as propaganda during the early 20th century wars of the Empire of Japan.[citation needed] However, it is equally true that the majority of samurai were content despite having their status abolished. Many found employment in the government bureaucracy, which resembled an elite class in its own right. The samurai, being better educated than most of the population, became teachers, gun makers, government officials, and/or military officers. While the formal title of samurai was abolished, the elitist spirit that characterized the samurai class lived on. The oligarchs also embarked on a series of land reforms. In particular, they legitimized the tenancy system which had been going on during the Tokugawa period. Despite the bakufu's best efforts to freeze the four classes of society in place, during their rule villagers had begun to lease land out to other farmers, becoming rich in the process. This greatly disrupted the clearly defined class system which the bakufu had envisaged, partly leading to their eventual downfall.[citation needed] The military of Japan, being strengthened by nationwide conscription and the infusion of a samurai military spirit, became emboldened to see themselves as a growing world power after winning both the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War. Centralization[edit] Besides drastic changes to the social structure of Japan, in an attempt to create a strong centralized state defining its national identity, the government established a dominant national dialect, called "standard language" (標準語, hyōjungo), that replaced local and regional dialects and was based on the patterns of Tokyo's samurai classes. This dialect eventually became the norm in the realms of education, media, government, and business.[10] The Meiji Restoration, and the resultant modernization of Japan, also influenced Japanese self-identity with respect to its Asian neighbours, as Japan became the first Asian state to modernize based on the Western model, replacing the traditional Confucian hierarchical order that had persisted previously under a dominant China with one based on modernity.[11] Industrial growth[edit] The Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
accelerated industrialization in Japan, which led to its rise as a military power by the year 1905, under the slogan of "Enrich the country, strengthen the military" (富国強兵, fukoku kyōhei). The rapid industrialization and modernization of Japan both allowed and required a massive increase in production and infrastructure. Japan built industries such as shipyards, iron smelters, and spinning mills, which were then sold to well-connected entrepreneurs. Consequently, domestic companies became consumers of Western technology and applied it to produce items that would be sold cheaply in the international market. With this, industrial zones grew enormously, and there was a massive migration to industrializing centers from the countryside. Industrialization
additionally went hand in hand with the development of a national railway system and modern communications.[12]

Annual average raw silk production and export from Japan (in tons[ambiguous])

Year(s) Production Exports

1868–1872 1026 646

1883 1682 1347

1889–1893 4098 2444

1899–1903 7103 4098

1909–1914 12460 9462

With industrialization came the demand for coal. There was dramatic rise in production, as shown in the table below.

Coal production

Year In millions of tonnes In millions of long tons In millions of short tons

1875 0.6 0.59 0.66

1885 1.2 1.2 1.3

1895 5 4.9 5.5

1905 13 13 14

1913 21.3 21.0 23.5

Coal was needed for steamships and railroads. The growth of these sectors is shown below.

Size of the merchant fleet

Year Number of steamships

1873 26

1894 169

1904 797

1913 1,514

Length of train track

Year mi km

1872 18 29

1883 240 390

1887 640 1,030

1894 2,100 3,400

1904 4,700 7,600

1914 7,100 11,400

See also[edit]

Bakumatsu Datsu-A Ron Land Tax Reform (Japan 1873) Lists of incumbents Modernization of Japanese Military 1868–1931 Meiji Constitution Four Hitokiri of the Bakumatsu Gwangmu Reform, the similar process in neighboring Korea


1.^ Although the political system was consolidated under the Emperor of Japan, power was mainly transferred to a group of people, known as the Meiji oligarchy
Meiji oligarchy
(and Genrō), who helped in the restoration of imperial power.[8]


^ Hunt, Lynn, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, R. Po-chia Hsia et al. The Making of the West, Peoples and Cultures. Vol. C. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2009. 712-13. ^ Henry Kissinger On China. 2011 p.79 ^ Hunt, Lynn, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, R. Po-chia Hsia et al.. The Making of the West, Peoples and Cultures. Vol. C. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin's, 2009. 712-13.

Henry Kissinger On China. 2011 p.79

^ "TOKUGAWA PERIOD AND MEIJI RESTORATION". History.com. Retrieved 2 March 2018.  ^ " Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
Definition, History, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-08-21.  ^ "One can date the 'restoration' of imperial rule from the edict of 3 January 1868." Jansen (2000), p. 334. ^ Quoted and translated in A Diplomat In Japan, Sir Ernest Satow, p. 353, ISBN 978-1-933330-16-7 ^ a b Gordon, Andrew (2003). A Modern History of Japan
History of Japan
From Tokugawa Times to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 61–62. ISBN 9780198027089.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Henry Kissinger On China. 2011 p.79 ^ Bestor, Theodore C. "Japan." Countries and Their Cultures. Eds. Melvin Ember and Carol Ember. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2001. 1140–1158. 4 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Pepperdine University SCELC. 23 November 2009 [1]. ^ Shih, Chih-yu (Spring 2011). "A Rising Unknown: Rediscovering China in Japan's East Asia". China Review. Chinese University Press. 11 (1): 2. JSTOR 23462195. (Registration required (help)).  ^ Yamamura, Kozo (1977). "Success Illgotten? The Role of Meiji Militarism in Japan's Technological Progress". The Journal of Economic History. Cambridge University Press. 37 (1). JSTOR 2119450. (Registration required (help)). 

Further reading[edit]

Akamatsu, Paul (1972). Meiji 1868: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Japan. New York: Harper & Row. p. 1247.  Beasley, William G., . (1972). The Meiji Restoration. Stanford: Stanford University Press.  Beasley, William G. (1995). The Rise of Modern Japan: Political, Economic and Social Change Since 1850. New York: St. Martin's Press.  Craig, Albert M. (1961). Chōshū in the Meiji Restoration. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.  Jansen, Marius B.; Gilbert Rozman, eds. (1986). Japan in Transition: From Tokugawa to Meiji. Princeton: Princeton University Press. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) Jansen, Marius B. (2000). The Making of Modern Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.  Murphey, Rhoads (1997). East Asia: A New History. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.  Satow, Ernest Mason. A Diplomat in Japan. ISBN 4-925080-28-8.  Wall, Rachel F. (1971). Japan's Century: An Interpretation of Japanese History since the Eighteen-fifties. London: The Historical Association.  Breen, John, 'The Imperial Oath of April 1868: ritual, power and politics in Restoration Japan', Monumenta Nipponica,51,4 (1996) Francisco Barberan & Rafael Domingo Osle, Codigo civil japones. Estudio preliminar, traduccion y notas (2 ed. Thomsons Aranzadi, 2006). Harry D. Harootunian, Toward Restoration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970), "Introduction", pp 1 – 46; on Yoshida: chapter IV "The Culture of Action – Yoshida Shōin", pp 184 – 219. Najita Tetsuo, The Intellectual Foundations of Modern Japanese Politics (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press), chapter 3: "Restorationism in Late Tokugawa", pp 43 – 68. H. Van Straelen, Yoshida Shōin, Forerunner of the Meiji Restoration: A Biographical Study (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1952). David M. Earl, Emperor and Nation in Japan (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1972), on Yoshida: "Attitude toward the Emperor/Nation", pp 161 – 192. Also pp. 82 – 105. Marius B Jansen, Sakamoto Ryōma
Sakamoto Ryōma
and the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1994) especially chapter VIII: "Restoration", pp 312 – 346. W. G. Beasley, The Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
(Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1972), especially chapter VI: "Dissenting Samurai", pp 140 – 171. Conrad Totman, "From Reformism to Transformism, bakufu Policy 1853–1868", in: T. Najita & V. J. Koshmann, Conflict in Modern Japanese History (New Jersay: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 62 – 80. Jansen, Marius B.: The Meiji Restoration, in: Jansen, Marius B. (ed.): The Cambridge history of Japan, Volume 5: The nineteenth century (New York: Cambridge UP, 1989), pp. 308–366. Robert W. Strayer, Ways of the World with Sources Vol. 2 (2nd ed.), pp 950 (2013)

External links[edit]

Essay on The Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
Era, 1868-1889 on the About Japan, A Teacher's Resource website A rare collection of Japanese Photographs of the Meiji Restoration from famous 19th century Japanese and European photographers

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