The emperor took the name Meiji "enlightened rule" as his reign name; this event was known as the Meiji Restoration.
Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule. Instead, the power rested with the new government consisting of a small, close-knit cabinet of advisers.
This new cabinet immediately began implementing a series of reforms to both strengthen and unify Japan. One of their largest concerns was that Japan would not be able to regain its sovereignty if it did not modernize. With the recent display of the superior armament of the United States military with Commodore Perry insuch concerns were not unfounded.
The goals of the early leaders of the Meiji era were ambitious, as they established new economic, political, and social institutions that governed Japan through World War II.
Perhaps most dramatically, it abolished the old system of a social hierarchy based on inherited status. The Meiji government communicated these changes to the country by publishing the Charter Oath in This brief document outlined the intentions and policies of the new government and laid the foundation for all the reforms that would follow in the coming decades.
The original text is believed to have been written by Yuri Kimimasa, an official of the fief of Fukui. Meiji Period in Japan Gallery The Charter Oath of the Meiji Restoration By this oath we set up as our aim the establishment of the national weal on a broad basis and the framing of a constitution and laws.
Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all mat- ters decided by public discussion. All classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state.
The common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall each be allowed to pursue his own calling so that there may be no discontent.
Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of Nature. He embraced these efforts both in practice and in appearance. He wore Western-style military clothing, styled his hair in a Western manner, and grew a kaiser mustache.
For example, officials outlawed mixed bathing and excessive exposure of flesh in public.
Government officials also consolidated power among an elite band of oligarchs. They formed a close circle around the emperor and advised him on everything.
Their first priorities included implementing land tax reforms and military conscription to strengthen the government. Over the next four decades, the emperor and his oligarchs made education compulsory and invested in everything from banks to railroads to modern printing presses that increased newspaper circulation.
The military adopted Western-style weapons and uniforms and took steps toward new models of military education. Some Japanese remained unaware of the changes taking place while others remained directly opposed to them. All of these changes, however, caused tremendous upheaval for a people ruled by a warrior class for centuries.
None of these far-reaching reforms were put into place overnight. The ideas for the reforms largely came about as a result of trips that Japanese officials took to the United States and Europe.
Five years after the emperor was restored to the throne, Meiji adviser Iwakura Tomomi led a delegation of nearly 50 government officials on an month diplomatic mission to Europe and the United States. Iwakura understood that Japan would maintain sovereignty only if it embraced a certain degree of modernization.
The objectives of the Iwakura Mission, as it came to be known, were twofold: While Iwakura and his delegates were largely unsuccessful in renegotiating the provisions of the treaties, they were impressed by the culture and institutions of the West and brought back many ideas for the reforming of schools and universities, factories, power plants, cultural life, the police, military, and government.
One member of the delegation was the statesman Ito Hirobumi. He documented everything, from currency systems to education and technology.
Ito observed the role that the constitutions of various nations played in guiding the conduct and institutions of the nations he visited. After studying the Prussian and Austrian constitutions, Ito, Japanese leaders, and Western scholars began drafting the Meiji Constitution in Eight years later it was promulgated.
In essence, the rule of law became institutionalized in Japan. In order to maintain a link between past and present, essential to the preservation of order, the framers of the Meiji Constitution maintained the imperial system while becoming a modern nation-state.
In fact, the day chosen for the Meiji emperor to announce the constitution to the Japanese people was February 11,the anniversary of the ascension of Jinmu, the mythical and purportedly first emperor of Japan, to the throne 2, years earlier.2: Paul Akamatsu, Meiji Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Japan, trans.
Miriam Kochan (New York: Harper and Row, ), 3: Jinmu is the mythical son of the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu-Omikami and traditionally believed to be the first emperor of Japan. The Meiji Restoration (明治維新, Meiji Ishin), also known as the Meiji Renovation, Revolution, Reform, or Renewal, was an event that restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan in .
The Meiji reforms brought great changes both within Japan and in Japan's place in world affairs.
Japan strengthened itself enough to remain a sovereign nation in the face of Western colonizing powers and indeed became a colonizing power itself. The Restoration led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure, and spanned both the late Edo period (often called Late Tokugawa shogunate) and the beginning of the Meiji period.
The period spanned from to and was responsible for the emergence of Japan as a modernized nation in the early twentieth . The Meiji Restoration was a political and social revolution in Japan in , which ended the power of the Tokugawa shogun and returned the Emperor to a central position in Japanese politics and culture.
The Restoration led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure, and spanned both the late Edo period (often called Late Tokugawa shogunate) and the beginning of the Meiji period.
The period spanned from to and was responsible for the emergence of Japan as a modernized nation in the early twentieth century.