Information

What precipitated the Meiji restoration?


What other factors, apart from Commander Perry arriving at Edo, precipitated the Meiji restoration?


Commodore Matthew C. Perry's arrived in Edo bay, on the 8th of July, 1853 with a letter from American president Millard Fillmore. Fillmore's letter phrased his country's aims in modest terms; his overarching hope was simple that:

the United States and Japan should live in friendship and have commercial intercourse with each other

and that it would be beneficial for both nations if Japan would:

change the ancient laws as to allow a free trade between the two countries

Perry delivered Fillmore's letters and some of his own amidst much pomp and ceremony, assuring Shogunate officials that he would return the next spring with a much larger force if necessary to learn the shogun's response to President Fillmore's requests.

Perry's demands left the Shogunate with an insolvable dilemma. Militarily Japan was woefully inadequate to deal with conflict with the United States, but to abandon the seclusion policy would result in widespread criticism from the ruling classes inside Japan.

Perry returned to Edo bay on February 14th the following year and Shogunate officials, lacking a mandate from Daimyo for either war or peace, entered negotiations with the Americans. On March 31 the two nations signed a treaty that permitted American ships to call at Shimoda and Hakodate and that an American consul would take up residence at Shimoda.

The expected widespread criticism of the capitulation of Japanese isolation was forthcoming and added to a more general dissatisfaction with the Tokugawa shogunate.

From the early 19th century Japan had suffered a decline in the social and economic foundation that supported the Tokugawa regime. The Samurai class, and their Daimyo masters, were increasingly impoverished while the merchant class began to live:

beyond their status and financial means

Naiyu Gaikan - "Troubles from within and without"

The combination of the Shogunate's failure to deal with the changing domestic landscape and this new capitulation to the growing foreign threat, led to the creation of a groundswell of young samurai enacting violence against the despised foreigners and the shogunal officials who tolerated the barbarian's presence.

It took a further fourteen years of internal discord for this groundswell to grow into a national uprising, led by a new emperor and his modern army, capable of toppling the regime that had ruled Japan for nearly two and a half centuries.

Ironically the victorious imperial faction abandoned its early objective to expel foreigners and adopted a aggressive policy of modernisation with the oft-stated motive to become a great and respected country, equal to the most advanced nations on the globe.

Quotes and references from:

James L. McClain. Japan, a modern history W.W. Norton & Co, 2002


What precipitated the Meiji restoration? - History

The Meiji Era (明治時代 1868-1912) denotes the reign of the Meiji Emperor. During this time, Japan started its modernization and rose to world power status.

A key foreign observer of the remarkable and rapid changes in Japanese society in this period was Ernest Satow, resident in Japan 1862-83 and 1895-1900.

In 1867, 14 year old Mutsuhito succeded his father, the Emperor Komei, taking the title Meiji, meaning "enlightened rule". The Meiji Restoration of 1868 ended the 265-year-old feudalistic Tokugawa shogunate.

Considering that the economic structure and production of the country was roughly equivalent to Elizabethan era England, becoming a world power in such a short time was remarkable progress.

There were at least two reasons for the speed of Japan's modernization: the employment of over 3,000 foreign experts (called o-yatoi gaikokujin or 'hired foreigners') in a variety of specialist fields such as teaching English, science, engineering, the army and navy etc. and the dispatch of many Japanese students overseas to Europe and America, based on the fifth and last article of the Charter Oath of 1868: 'Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of Imperial rule.' This process of modernization was closely monitored and heavily subsidized by the Meiji government, enhancing the power of the great zaibatsu firms such as Mitsui and Mitsubishi.

Hand in hand, the zaibatsu and government guided the nation, always borrowing technology from the West. Japan gradually took control of much of Asia's market for manufactures, beginning with textiles. The economic structure became very mercantilistic, importing raw materials and exporting finished products - a reflection of Japan's relative poverty in raw materials.

Following her defeat of China in Korea in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), Japan broke through as an international power with a victory against Russia in Manchuria (north-eastern China) in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. Allied with Britain since the Anglo-Japanese Alliance signed in London on January 30, 1902, Japan joined the Allies in World War I, seizing German-held territory in China and the Pacific in the process, but otherwise remained largely out of the conflict.

After the war, a weakened Europe left a greater share in international markets to the U.S. and Japan, which emerged greatly strengthened. Japanese competition made great inroads into hitherto European-dominated markets in Asia, not only in China, but even in European colonies like India and Indonesia, reflecting the development of the Meiji era.

The major institutional accomplishment after the Satsuma Rebellion was the start of the trend toward developing representative government. People who had been forced out or left out of the governing apparatus after the Meiji Restoration had witnessed or heard of the success of representative institutions in other countries of the world and applied greater pressure for a voice in government.

A major proponent of representative government was Itagaki Taisuke (1837-1919), a powerful Tosa leader who had resigned from the Council of State over the Korean affair in 1873. Itagaki sought peaceful rather than rebellious means to gain a voice in government. He started a school and a movement aimed at establishing a constitutional monarchy and a legislative assembly. Itagaki and others wrote the Tosa Memorial in 1874 criticizing the unbridled power of the oligarchy and calling for the immediate establishment of representative government.

Dissatisfied with the pace of reform after having rejoined the Council of State in 1875, Itagaki organized his followers and other democratic proponents into the nationwide Aikokusha (Society of Patriots) to push for representative government in 1878. In 1881, in an action for which he is best known, Itagaki helped found the Jiyuto (Liberal Party), which favored French political doctrines.

In 1882 Okuma Shigenobu established the Rikken Kaishinto (Constitutional Progressive Party), which called for a British-style constitutional democracy. In response, government bureaucrats, local government officials, and other conservatives established the Rikken Teiseito (Imperial Rule Party), a pro-government party, in 1882. Numerous political demonstrations followed, some of them violent, resulting in further government restrictions. The restrictions hindered the political parties and led to divisions within and among them. The Jiyuto, which had opposed the Kaishinto, was disbanded in 1884, and Okuma resigned as Kaishinto president.

Government leaders, long preoccupied with violent threats to stability and the serious leadership split over the Korean affair, generally agreed that constitutional government should someday be established. The Choshu leader Kido Takayoshi had favored a constitutional form of government since before 1874, and several proposals for constitutional guarantees had been drafted. The oligarchy, however, while acknowledging the realities of political pressure, was determined to keep control. Thus, modest steps were taken.

The Osaka Conference in 1875 resulted in the reorganization of government with an independent judiciary and an appointed Council of Elders (Genronin) tasked with reviewing proposals for a legislature. The emperor declared that "constitutional government shall be established in gradual stages" as he ordered the Council of Elders to draft a constitution.

Three years later, the Conference of Prefectural Governors established elected prefectural assemblies. Although limited in their authority, these assemblies represented a move in the direction of representative government at the national level, and by 1880 assemblies also had been formed in villages and towns. In 1880 delegates from twenty-four prefectures held a national convention to establish the Kokkai Kisei Domei (League for Establishing a National Assembly).

Although the government was not opposed to parliamentary rule, confronted with the drive for "people's rights", it continued to try to control the political situation. New laws in 1875 prohibited press criticism of the government or discussion of national laws. The Public Assembly Law (1880) severely limited public gatherings by disallowing attendance by civil servants and requiring police permission for all meetings.

Within the ruling circle, however, and despite the conservative approach of the leadership, Okuma continued as a lone advocate of British-style government, a government with political parties and a cabinet organized by the majority party, answerable to the national assembly. He called for elections to be held by 1882 and for a national assembly to be convened by 1883 in doing so, he precipitated a political crisis that ended with an 1881 imperial rescript declaring the establishment of a national assembly in 1890 and dismissing Okuma.

Rejecting the British model, Iwakura and other conservatives borrowed heavily from the Prussian constitutional system. One of the Meiji oligarchy, Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909), a Choshu native long involved in government affairs, was charged with drafting Japan's constitution. He led a Constitutional Study Mission abroad in 1882, spending most of his time in Germany. He rejected the United States Constitution as "too liberal" and the British system as too unwieldy and having a parliament with too much control over the monarchy the French and Spanish models were rejected as tending toward despotism.

On its return, one of the first acts of the government was to establish new ranks for the nobility. Five hundred persons from the old court nobility, former daimyo, and samurai who had provided valuable service to the emperor were organized in five ranks: prince, marquis, count, viscount, and baron.

Ito was put in charge of the new Bureau for Investigation of Constitutional Systems in 1884, and the Council of State was replaced in 1885 with a cabinet headed by Ito as prime minister. The positions of chancellor, minister of the left, and minister of the right, which had existed since the 7th century as advisory positions to the emperor, were all abolished. In their place, the Privy Council was established in 1888 to evaluate the forthcoming constitution and to advise the emperor.

To further strengthen the authority of the state, the Supreme War Council was established under the leadership of Yamagata Aritomo (1838-1922), a Choshu native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Japanese army and was to become the first constitutional prime minister. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials.

When finally granted by the emperor as a sign of his sharing his authority and giving rights and liberties to his subjects, the 1889 Constitution of the Empire of Japan (the Meiji Constitution) provided for the Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai), composed of a popularly elected House of Representatives with a very limited franchise of male citizens who paid 15 in national taxes, about 1 percent of the population, and the House of Peers, composed of nobility and imperial appointees and a cabinet responsible to the emperor and independent of the legislature. The Diet could approve government legislation and initiate laws, make representations to the government, and submit petitions to the emperor. Nevertheless, in spite of these institutional changes, sovereignty still resided in the emperor on the basis of his divine ancestry.

The new constitution specified a form of government that was still authoritarian in character, with the emperor holding the ultimate power and only minimal concessions made to popular rights and parliamentary mechanisms. Party participation was recognized as part of the political process. The Meiji Constitution was to last as the fundamental law until 1947.

In the early years of constitutional government, the strengths and weaknesses of the Meiji Constitution were revealed. A small clique of Satsuma and Choshu elite continued to rule Japan, becoming institutionalized as an extraconstitutional body of genro (elder statesmen). Collectively, the genro made decisions reserved for the emperor, and the genro, not the emperor, controlled the government politically.

Throughout the period, however, political problems were usually solved through compromise, and political parties gradually increased their power over the government and held an ever larger role in the political process as a result. Between 1891 and 1895, Ito served as prime minister with a cabinet composed mostly of genro who wanted to establish a government party to control the House of Representatives. Although not fully realized, the trend toward party politics was well established.

Japan emerged from the Tokugawa-Meiji transition as the first Asian industrialized nation. Domestic commercial activities and limited foreign trade had met the demands for material culture in the Tokugawa period, but the modernized Meiji era had radically different requirements. From the onset, the Meiji rulers embraced the concept of a market economy and adopted British and North American forms of free enterprise capitalism. The private sector - in a nation blessed with an abundance of aggressive entrepreneurs - welcomed such change.

Economic reforms included a unified modern currency based on the yen, banking, commercial and tax laws, stock exchanges, and a communications network. Establishment of a modern institutional framework conducive to an advanced capitalist economy took time but was completed by the 1890s. By this time, the government had largely relinquished direct control of the modernization process, primarily for budgetary reasons.

Many of the former daimyo, whose pensions had been paid in a lump sum, benefited greatly through investments they made in emerging industries. Those who had been informally involved in foreign trade before the Meiji Restoration also flourished. Old bakufu-serving firms that clung to their traditional ways failed in the new business environment.

The government was initially involved in economic modernization, providing a number of "model factories" to facilitate the transition to the modern period. After the first twenty years of the Meiji period, the industrial economy expanded rapidly until about 1920 with inputs of advanced Western technology and large private investments. Stimulated by wars and through cautious economic planning, Japan emerged from World War I as a major industrial nation.

After the death of the Meiji Emperor in 1912, the Taisho Emperor took the throne, thus beginning the Taisho Period.


Contents

The Japanese knew they were behind the Western powers when US Commodore Matthew C. Perry came to Japan in 1853 in large warships with armaments and technology that far outclassed those of Japan with the intent to conclude a treaty that would open up Japanese ports to trade. [1] Figures like 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 of being colonized 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.

The foundation of the Meiji Restoration was the 1866 Satsuma-Chōshū Alliance between Saigō Takamori and Kido Takayoshi, leaders of the reformist elements in the Satsuma Domain and Chōshū Domain. These two leaders supported the Emperor Kōmei (Emperor Meiji's father) and were brought together by Sakamoto Ryōma for the purpose of challenging the ruling Tokugawa shogunate (bakufu) and restoring the Emperor to power. After Kōmei's death on January 30, 1867, 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 influence of Modernity. [4]

In the same year, the koban was discontinued as a form of currency.

The Tokugawa government had been founded in the 17th century and initially 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 daimyōs to the shogunate and limited any individual daimyō from acquiring too much land or power. [5] The 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. [6] 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. [7] On January 3, 1868, the Emperor stripped Yoshinobu of all power and made a formal declaration of the restoration of his power:

The 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 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.

Shortly thereafter in January 1868, the Boshin War (War of the Year of the Dragon) started with the Battle of Toba–Fushimi in which Chōshū and Satsuma's forces defeated the ex-shōgun ' s army. 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 daimyō 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". [3]

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 in Hokkaidō. The defeat of the armies of the former shōgun (led by 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. [9] Later, their debts and payments of samurai stipends were either taxed heavily or turned into bonds which resulted in a large loss of wealth among former samurai. [10]

Emperor Meiji announced in his 1868 Charter Oath that "Knowledge shall be sought all over the world, and thereby the foundations of imperial rule shall be strengthened." [2]

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 to an oligarchy consisting of these leaders, mostly from Satsuma Province (Ōkubo Toshimichi and Saigō Takamori), and 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 that formed the government under the rule of the Emperor first introduced measures to consolidate their power against the remnants of the Edo period government, the shogunate, daimyōs, and the samurai class. The oligarchs also endeavored to abolish the four divisions of society. [ citation needed ]

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. [11]

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, strengthened by nationwide conscription and emboldened by military success in both the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, began to view themselves as a growing world power.

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. [12]

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. [13] Adopting enlightenment ideals of popular education, the Japanese government established a national system of public schools. [14] These free schools taught students reading, writing, and mathematics. Students also attended courses in "moral training" which reinforced their duty to the Emperor and to the Japanese state. By the end of the Meiji period, attendance of public schools was widespread, increasing the availability of skilled workers and contributing to the industrial growth of Japan.

Industrial growth Edit

The Meiji Restoration accelerated the industrialization process in Japan, which led to its rise as a military power by the year 1895, under the slogan of "Enrich the country, strengthen the military" ( 富国強兵 , fukoku kyōhei ) .

Japan's economic powers are a major influence on the industrial factor of its country as well. Economics and market both influenced how the people used the market as a place of growth. The nation of Japan had gone under a mass transformation that helped them economically. Japan had help from Western nations when it came to industrial growth. This is important to the growth and ideas that came with the reforms and transformation Japan was undergoing during the Meiji period.

During the Meiji period, powers such as Europe and the United States helped transform Japan and made them realize a change needed to take place. Some leaders went out to foreign lands and used the knowledge and government writings to help shape and form a more influential government within their walls that allowed for things such as production. Despite the help Japan received from other powers, one of the key factors in Japan's industrializing success was its relative lack of resources, which made it unattractive to Western imperialism. [15] The farmer and the samurai classification were the base and soon the problem of why there was a limit of growth within the nation's industrial work. The government sent officials such as the samurai to monitor the work that was being done. Because of Japan's leaders taking control and adapting Western techniques it has remained one of the world's largest industrial nations.

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. [16]

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.


Contents

On February 3, 1867, the 14-year-old Prince Mutsuhito succeeded his father, Emperor Kōmei, to the Chrysanthemum Throne as the 122nd emperor.

On November 9, 1867, then-shōgun Tokugawa Yoshinobu tendered his resignation to the Emperor, and formally stepped down ten days later. [2] Imperial restoration occurred the next year on January 3, 1868, with the formation of the new government. The fall of Edo in the summer of 1868 marked the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, and a new era, Meiji, was proclaimed.

The first reform was the promulgation of the Five Charter Oath in 1868, a general statement of the aims of the Meiji leaders to boost morale and win financial support for the new government. Its five provisions consisted of:

  1. Deliberative assembly shall be widely established and all matters decided by public discussion
  2. All classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the administration of the affairs of state
  3. The common people, no less than the civil and military of officials, shall each be allowed to pursue his own calling so that there may be no discontent.
  4. Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of nature.
  5. Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule.

Implicit in the Charter Oath was an end to exclusive political rule by the bakufu (a shōgun ' s direct administration including officers), and a move toward more democratic participation in government. To implement the Charter Oath, a rather short-lived constitution with eleven articles was drawn up in June 1868. Besides providing for a new Council of State, legislative bodies, and systems of ranks for nobles and officials, it limited office tenure to four years, allowed public balloting, provided for a new taxation system, and ordered new local administrative rules.

The Meiji government assured the foreign powers that it would follow the old treaties negotiated by the bakufu and announced that it would act in accordance with international law. Mutsuhito, who was to reign until 1912, selected a new reign title—Meiji, or Enlightened Rule—to mark the beginning of a new era in Japanese history. To further dramatize the new order, the capital was relocated from Kyoto, where it had been situated since 794, to Tokyo (Eastern Capital), the new name for Edo. In a move critical for the consolidation of the new regime, most daimyōs voluntarily surrendered their land and census records to the Emperor in the abolition of the Han system, symbolizing that the land and people were under the Emperor's jurisdiction.

Confirmed in their hereditary positions, the daimyo became governors, and the central government assumed their administrative expenses and paid samurai stipends. The han were replaced with prefectures in 1871, and authority continued to flow to the national government. Officials from the favored former han, such as Satsuma, Chōshū, Tosa, and Hizen staffed the new ministries. Formerly old court nobles, and lower-ranking but more radical samurai, replaced bakufu appointees and daimyo as a new ruling class appeared.

In as much as the Meiji Restoration had sought to return the Emperor to a preeminent position, efforts were made to establish a Shinto-oriented state much like it was 1,000 years earlier. Since Shinto and Buddhism had molded into a syncretic belief in the prior one-thousand years and Buddhism had been closely connected with the shogunate, this involved the separation of Shinto and Buddhism (shinbutsu bunri) and the associated destruction of various Buddhist temples and related violence (haibutsu kishaku). Furthermore, a new State Shinto had to be constructed for the purpose. In 1871, the Office of Shinto Worship (ja:神祇省) was established, ranking even above the Council of State in importance. The kokutai ideas of the Mito school were embraced, and the divine ancestry of the Imperial House was emphasized. The government supported Shinto teachers, a small but important move. Although the Office of Shinto Worship was demoted in 1872, by 1877 the Home Ministry controlled all Shinto shrines and certain Shinto sects were given state recognition. Shinto was released from Buddhist administration and its properties restored. Although Buddhism suffered from state sponsorship of Shinto, it had its own resurgence. Christianity also was legalized, and Confucianism remained an important ethical doctrine. Increasingly, however, Japanese thinkers identified with Western ideology and methods.

A major proponent of representative government was Itagaki Taisuke (1837–1919), a powerful Tosa leader who had resigned from the Council of State over the Korean affair in 1873. Itagaki sought peaceful, rather than rebellious, means to gain a voice in government. He started a school and a movement aimed at establishing a constitutional monarchy and a legislative assembly. Such movements were called The Freedom and People's Rights Movement. Itagaki and others wrote the Tosa Memorial (ja:民撰議院設立建白書) in 1874, criticizing the unbridled power of the oligarchy and calling for the immediate establishment of representative government.

Between 1871 and 1873, a series of land and tax laws were enacted as the basis for modern fiscal policy. Private ownership was legalized, deeds were issued, and lands were assessed at fair market value with taxes paid in cash rather than in kind as in pre-Meiji days and at slightly lower rates.

Dissatisfied with the pace of reform after having rejoined the Council of State in 1875, Itagaki organized his followers and other democratic proponents into the nationwide Aikokusha (Society of Patriots) to push for representative government in 1878. In 1881, in an action for which he is best known, Itagaki helped found the Jiyūtō (Liberal Party), which favored French political doctrines.

In 1882, Ōkuma Shigenobu established the Rikken Kaishintō (Constitutional Progressive Party), which called for a British-style constitutional democracy. In response, government bureaucrats, local government officials, and other conservatives established the Rikken Teiseitō (Imperial Rule Party), a pro-government party, in 1882. Numerous political demonstrations followed, some of them violent, resulting in further government restrictions. The restrictions hindered the political parties and led to divisions within and among them. The Jiyūtō, which had opposed the Kaishinto, was disbanded in 1884 and Ōkuma resigned as Kaishintō president.

Government leaders, long preoccupied with violent threats to stability and the serious leadership split over the Korean affair, generally agreed that constitutional government should someday be established. The Chōshū leader Kido Takayoshi had favored a constitutional form of government since before 1874, and several proposals for constitutional guarantees had been drafted. While acknowledging the realities of political pressure, however, the oligarchy was determined to keep control. Thus, modest steps were taken.

The Osaka Conference in 1875 resulted in the reorganization of government with an independent judiciary and an appointed Chamber of Elders (Genrōin) tasked with reviewing proposals for a legislature. The Emperor declared that "constitutional government shall be established in gradual stages" as he ordered the Council of Elders to draft a constitution.

Three years later, the Conference of Prefectural Governors established elected prefectural assemblies. Although limited in their authority, these assemblies represented a move in the direction of representative government at the national level, and by 1880 assemblies also had been formed in villages and towns. In 1880 delegates from twenty-four prefectures held a national convention to establish the Kokkai Kisei Dōmei.

Although the government was not opposed to parliamentary rule, confronted with the drive for "people's rights", it continued to try to control the political situation. New laws in 1875 prohibited press criticism of the government or discussion of national laws. The Public Assembly Law (1880) severely limited public gatherings by disallowing attendance by civil servants and requiring police permission for all meetings.

Within the ruling circle, however, and despite the conservative approach of the leadership, Okuma continued as a lone advocate of British-style government, a government with political parties and a cabinet organized by the majority party, answerable to the national assembly. He called for elections to be held by 1882 and for a national assembly to be convened by 1883 in doing so, he precipitated a political crisis that ended with an 1881 imperial rescript declaring the establishment of a national assembly in 1890 and dismissing Okuma.

Rejecting the British model, Iwakura and other conservatives borrowed heavily from the Prussian constitutional system. One of the Meiji oligarchy, Itō Hirobumi (1841–1909), a Chōshū native long involved in government affairs, was charged with drafting Japan's constitution. He led a constitutional study mission abroad in 1882, spending most of his time in Germany. He rejected the United States Constitution as "too liberal", and the British system as too unwieldy, and having a parliament with too much control over the monarchy the French and Spanish models were rejected as tending toward despotism.

Ito was put in charge of the new Bureau for Investigation of Constitutional Systems in 1884, and the Council of State was replaced in 1885 with a cabinet headed by Ito as prime minister. The positions of chancellor (or chief-minister), minister of the left, and minister of the right, which had existed since the seventh century as advisory positions to the Emperor, were all abolished. In their place, the Privy Council was established in 1888 to evaluate the forthcoming constitution and to advise the Emperor.

To further strengthen the authority of the State, the Supreme War Council was established under the leadership of Yamagata Aritomo (1838–1922), a Chōshū native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Japanese army and was to become the first constitutional Prime Minister. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the Emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials.

The Constitution of the Empire of Japan was enacted on November 29, 1890. [4] It was a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy. [5] The Emperor of Japan was legally the supreme leader, and the Cabinet were his followers. The Prime Minister would be elected by a Privy Council. In reality, the Emperor was head of state but the Prime Minister was the actual head of government.

Class distinctions were mostly eliminated during modernization to create a representative democracy. The samurai lost their status as the only class with military privileges. However, during the Meiji period, most leaders in Japanese society (politics, business and military) were ex-samurai or descendants of samurai.

The 1889 Meiji Constitution made relatively small concessions to civil rights and parliamentary mechanisms. Party participation was recognized as part of the political process. The Emperor shared his authority and give rights and liberties to his subjects. It provided for the Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai), composed of a popularly elected House of Representatives with a very limited franchise of male citizens who were over twenty-five years of age and paid fifteen yen in national taxes (approximately 1% of the population). The House of Peers was composed of nobility and imperial appointees. A cabinet was responsible to the Emperor and independent of the legislature. The Diet could approve government legislation and initiate laws, make representations to the government, and submit petitions to the Emperor. The Meiji Constitution lasted as the fundamental law until 1947.

In the early years of constitutional government, the strengths and weaknesses of the Meiji Constitution were revealed. A small clique of Satsuma and Chōshū elite continued to rule Japan, becoming institutionalized as an extra-constitutional body of genrō (elder statesmen). Collectively, the genro made decisions reserved for the Emperor, and the genro, not the Emperor, controlled the government politically.

Throughout the period, however, political problems usually were solved through compromise, and political parties gradually increased their power over the government and held an ever-larger role in the political process as a result. Between 1891 and 1895, Ito served as Prime Minister with a cabinet composed mostly of genro who wanted to establish a government party to control the House of Representatives. Although not fully realized, the trend toward party politics was well established.

On its return, one of the first acts of the government was to establish new ranks for the nobility. Five hundred people from the old court nobility, former daimyo, and samurai who had provided valuable service to the Emperor were organized into a new peerage, the Kazoku, consisting of five ranks: prince, marquis, count, viscount, and baron.

In the transition between the Edo period and the Meiji era, the Ee ja nai ka movement, a spontaneous outbreak of ecstatic behavior, took place.

In 1885, noted public intellectual Yukichi Fukuzawa wrote the influential essay "Leaving Asia", arguing that Japan should orient itself at the "civilized countries of the West", leaving behind the "hopelessly backward" Asian neighbors, namely Korea and China. This essay certainly encouraged the economic and technological rise of Japan in the Meiji era, but it also may have laid the intellectual foundations for later Japanese colonialism in the region.

The Meiji era saw a flowering of public discourse on the direction of Japan. Works like Nakae Chōmin's A Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government [7] debated how best to blend the new influences coming from the West with local Japanese culture. Grassroots movements like the Freedom and People's Rights Movement called for the establishment of a formal legislature, civil rights, and greater pluralism in the Japanese political system. Journalists, politicians, and writers actively participated in the movement, which attracted an array of interest groups, including women's rights activists. [8]

The elite class of the Meiji era adapted many aspects of Victorian taste, as seen in the construction of Western-style pavilions and reception rooms called yōkan or yōma in their homes. These parts of Meiji homes were displayed in popular magazines of the time, such as Ladies' Graphic, which portrayed the often empty rooms of the homes of the aristocracy of all levels, including the imperial palaces. Integrating Western cultural forms with an assumed, untouched native Japanese spirit was characteristic of Meiji society, especially at the top levels, and represented Japan's search for a place within a new world power system in which European colonial empires dominated. [9]

Fashion Edit

The production of kimono started to use Western technologies such as synthetic dye, and decoration was sometimes influenced by Western motifs. [10] The textile industry modernized rapidly and silk from Tokyo's factories became Japan's principal export. [11] Cheap synthetic dyes meant that bold purples and reds, previously restricted to the wealthy elite, could be owned by anyone. [12] Faster and cheaper manufacture allowed more people to afford silk kimono, and enabled designers to create new patterns. [12] The Emperor issued a proclamation promoting Western dress over the allegedly effeminate Japanese dress. [13] Fukuzawa Yukichi's descriptions of Western clothing and customs were influential. [14] So Western dress became popular in the public sphere: many men adopted Western dress in the workplace, although kimono were still the norm for men at home and for women. [15] In the 1890s the kimono reasserted itself, with people wearing bolder and brighter styles. A new type called the hōmongi bridged the gap between formal dress and everyday dress. [11]

The technology of the time allowed for subtle color gradients rather than abrupt changes of color. Another trend was for outer and inner garments of the same design. [16] Another trend in the Meiji era was for women's under-kimono made by combining pieces of different fabric, sometimes of radically different colors and designs. [17] For men, the trend was for highly decorative under-kimono that would be covered by outer kimono that were plain or very simply designed. Even the clothing of infants and young children used bold colors, intricate designs, and materials common to adult fashions. [18] Japanese exports led to kimono becoming an object of fascination in the West. [19]

The Industrial Revolution in Japan occurred during the Meiji era. The industrial revolution began about 1870 as Meiji era leaders decided to catch up with the West. The government built railroads, improved roads, and inaugurated a land reform program to prepare the country for further development. It inaugurated a new Western-based education system for all young people, sent thousands of students to the United States and Europe, and hired more than 3,000 Westerners to teach modern science, mathematics, technology, and foreign languages in Japan (O-yatoi gaikokujin).

In 1871, a group of Japanese politicians known as the Iwakura Mission toured Europe and the US to learn western ways. The result was a deliberate state led industrialization policy to enable Japan to quickly catch up. The Bank of Japan, founded in 1877, used taxes to fund model steel and textile factories.

Modern industry first appeared in textiles, including cotton and especially silk, which was based in home workshops in rural areas. [20] Due to the importing of new textile manufacturing technology from Europe, between 1886 and 1897, Japan's total value of yarn output rose from 12 million to 176 million yen. In 1886, 62% of yarn in Japan was imported by 1902, most yarn was produced locally. By 1913, Japan was producing 672 million pounds of yarn per year, becoming the fourth largest exporter of cotton yarn. [21]

The first railway was opened between Tokyo and Yokohama in 1872 and railway was rapidly developed throughout Japan well into the twentieth century. The introduction of railway transportation led to more efficient production due to the decline in transport costs, allowing manufacturing firms to move into more populated interior regions of Japan in search for labor input. The railway also enabled a new-found access to raw materials that had previously been too difficult or costly to transport. [22]

There were at least two reasons for the speed of Japan's modernization: the employment of more than 3,000 foreign experts (called o-yatoi gaikokujin or 'hired foreigners') in a variety of specialist fields such as teaching English, science, engineering, the army and navy, among others and the dispatch of many Japanese students overseas to Europe and America, based on the fifth and last article of the Charter Oath of 1868: 'Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of Imperial rule.' This process of modernization was closely monitored and heavily subsidized by the Meiji government, enhancing the power of the great zaibatsu firms such as Mitsui and Mitsubishi.

Hand in hand, the zaibatsu and government guided the nation, borrowing technology from the West. Japan gradually took control of much of Asia's market for manufactured goods, beginning with textiles. The economic structure became very mercantilistic, importing raw materials and exporting finished products—a reflection of Japan's relative poverty in raw materials.

Japan emerged from the Tokugawa–Tennō (Keiō–Meiji) transition in 1868 as the first Asian industrialized nation. Domestic commercial activities and limited foreign trade had met the demands for material culture until the Keiō era, but the modernized Meiji era had radically different requirements. From the onset, the Meiji rulers embraced the concept of a market economy and adopted British and North American forms of free enterprise capitalism. The private sector—in a nation with an abundance of aggressive entrepreneurs—welcomed such change.

Economic reforms included a unified modern currency based on the yen, banking, commercial and tax laws, stock exchanges, and a communications network. Establishment of a modern institutional framework conducive to an advanced capitalist economy took time, but was completed by the 1890s. By this time, the government had largely relinquished direct control of the modernization process, primarily for budgetary reasons.

Many of the former daimyo, whose pensions had been paid in a lump sum, benefited greatly through investments they made in emerging industries. Those who had been informally involved in foreign trade before the Meiji Restoration also flourished. Old bakufu-serving firms that clung to their traditional ways failed in the new business environment.

The government initially was involved in economic modernization, providing a number of "model factories" to facilitate the transition to the modern era. After the first twenty years of the Meiji era, the industrial economy expanded rapidly until about 1920 with inputs of advanced Western technology and large private investments. Stimulated by wars and through cautious economic planning, Japan emerged from World War I as a major industrial nation.

In 1885, the Meiji government sponsored a telegraph system, throughout Japan, situating the telegraphs in all major Japanese cities at the time.

Overview Edit

Undeterred by opposition, the Meiji leaders continued to modernize the nation through government-sponsored telegraph cable links to all major Japanese cities and the Asian mainland and construction of railroads, shipyards, munitions factories, mines, textile manufacturing facilities, factories, and experimental agriculture stations. Greatly concerned about national security, the leaders made significant efforts at military modernization, which included establishing a small standing army, a large reserve system, and compulsory militia service for all men. Foreign military systems were studied, foreign advisers, especially French ones, were brought in, and Japanese cadets sent abroad to Europe and the United States to attend military and naval schools.

Early Meiji period (1868–77) Edit

In 1854, after US Navy Admiral Matthew C. Perry forced the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa, Japanese elites took the position that they needed to modernize the state's military capacities, or risk further coercion from Western powers. [24] The Tokugawa shogunate did not officially share this point of view, however, as evidenced by the imprisonment of the Governor of Nagasaki, Shanan Takushima for voicing his views of military reform and weapons modernization. [25]

In 1868, the Japanese government established the Tokyo Arsenal. This arsenal was responsible for the development and manufacture of small arms and associated ammunition. [25] The same year, Ōmura Masujirō established Japan's first military academy in Kyoto. Ōmura further proposed military billets be filled by all classes of people including farmers and merchants. The shōgun class, [ clarification needed ] not happy with Ōmura's views on conscription, assassinated him the following year. [26]

In 1870, Japan expanded its military production base by opening another arsenal in Osaka. The Osaka Arsenal was responsible for the production of machine guns and ammunition. [27] Also, four gunpowder facilities also were opened at this site. Japan's production capacity gradually expanded.

In 1872, Yamagata Aritomo and Saigō Jūdō, both new field marshals, founded the Corps of the Imperial Guards. This corps was composed of the warrior classes from the Tosa, Satsuma, and Chōshū clans. [25] Also, in the same year, the hyobusho (war office) was replaced with a War Department and a Naval Department. The samurai class suffered great disappointment the following years, when in January the Conscription Law of 1873 was passed. This law required every able-bodied male Japanese citizen, regardless of class, to serve a mandatory term of three years with the first reserves and two additional years with the second reserves. [25] This monumental law, signifying the beginning of the end for the samurai class, initially met resistance from both the peasant and warrior alike. The peasant class interpreted the term for military service, ketsu-eki (blood tax) literally, and attempted to avoid service by any means necessary. Avoidance methods included maiming, self-mutilation, and local uprisings. [28] The samurai were generally resentful of the new, western-style military and at first, refused to stand in formation with the peasant class. [25]

In conjunction with the new conscription law, the Japanese government began modeling their ground forces after the French military. Indeed, the new Japanese army used the same rank structure as the French. [29] The enlisted corps ranks were: private, noncommissioned officers, and officers. The private classes were: jōtō-hei or upper soldier, ittō-sotsu or first-class soldier, and nitō-sotsu or second-class soldier. The noncommissioned officer class ranks were: gochō or corporal, gunsō or sergeant, sōchō or sergeant major, and tokumu-sōchō or special sergeant major. Finally, the officer class is made up of: shōi or second lieutenant, chūi or first lieutenant, tai or captain, shōsa or major, chūsa or lieutenant colonel, taisa or colonel, shōshō or major general, chūjō or lieutenant general, taishō or general, and gensui or field marshal. [25] The French government also contributed greatly to the training of Japanese officers. Many were employed at the military academy in Kyoto, and many more still were feverishly translating French field manuals for use in the Japanese ranks. [25]

Despite the Conscription Law of 1873, and all the reforms and progress, the new Japanese army was still untested. That all changed in 1877, when Saigō Takamori led the last rebellion of the samurai in Kyūshū. In February 1877, Saigō left Kagoshima with a small contingent of soldiers on a journey to Tokyo. Kumamoto castle was the site of the first major engagement when garrisoned forces fired on Saigō's army as they attempted to force their way into the castle. Rather than leave an enemy behind him, Saigō laid siege to the castle. Two days later, Saigō's rebels, while attempting to block a mountain pass, encountered advanced elements of the national army en route to reinforce Kumamoto castle. After a short battle, both sides withdrew to reconstitute their forces. A few weeks later the national army engaged Saigō's rebels in a frontal assault at what now is called the Battle of Tabaruzuka. During this eight-day-battle, Saigō's nearly ten thousand strong army battled hand-to-hand the equally matched national army. Both sides suffered nearly four thousand casualties during this engagement. Due to conscription, however, the Japanese army was able to reconstitute its forces, while Saigō's was not. Later, forces loyal to the emperor broke through rebel lines and managed to end the siege on Kumamoto Castle after fifty-four days. Saigō's troops fled north and were pursued by the national army. The national army caught up with Saigō at Mt. Enodake. Saigō's army was outnumbered seven-to-one, prompting a mass surrender of many samurai. The remaining five hundred samurai loyal to Saigō escaped, travelling south to Kagoshima. The rebellion ended on September 24, 1877, following the final engagement with Imperial forces which resulted in the deaths of the remaining forty samurai including Saigō, who, having suffered a fatal bullet wound in the abdomen, was honorably beheaded by his retainer. The national army's victory validated the current course of the modernization of the Japanese army as well as ended the era of the samurai.

When the United States Navy ended Japan's sakoku policy, and thus its isolation, the latter found itself defenseless against military pressures and economic exploitation by the Western powers. For Japan to emerge from the feudal period, it had to avoid the colonial fate of other Asian countries by establishing genuine national independence and equality. Following the María Luz Incident, Japan released the Chinese coolies from a western ship in 1872, after which the Qing imperial government of China gave thanks to Japan.

Following Japan's victory over China in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), Japan broke through as an international power with a victory against Russia in Manchuria (north-eastern China) in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. Allied with Britain since the Anglo-Japanese Alliance signed in London on January 30, 1902, Japan joined the Allies in World War I, seizing German-held territory in China and the Pacific in the process, but otherwise remained largely out of the conflict.

Following World War I, a weakened Europe left a greater share in international markets to the United States and Japan, which emerged greatly strengthened. Japanese competition made great inroads into hitherto-European-dominated markets in Asia, not only in China, but even in European colonies such as India and Indonesia, reflecting the development of the Meiji era.

The final years of the Meiji era were also marked by the annexation of Korea in 1911 Japan's occupation of the peninsula nation would persist until Japan's loss in World War II in 1945, during the middle of the Shōwa period, and would have lasting negative repercussions on foreign relations between Japan and North and South Korea.

The government took an active interest in the art export market, promoting Japanese arts at a succession of world's fairs, beginning with the 1873 Vienna World's Fair. [30] [31] As well as heavily funding the fairs, the government took an active role organizing how Japan's culture was presented to the world. It created a semi-public company — the Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha (First Industrial Manufacturing Company) — to promote and commercialize exports of art [32] and established the Hakurankai Jimukyoku (Exhibition Bureau) to maintain quality standards. [31] For the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia, the Japanese government created a Centennial Office and sent a special envoy to secure space for the 30,000 items that would be displayed. [33] The Imperial Household also took an active interest in arts and crafts, commissioning works ("presentation wares") as gifts for foreign dignitaries. [34] In 1890, the Teishitsu Gigeiin (Artist to the Imperial Household) system was created to recognize distinguished artists seventy were appointed from 1890 to 1944. [35] Among these were the painter and lacquer artist Shibata Zeshin, ceramicist Makuzu Kōzan, painter Hashimoto Gahō, and cloisonné enamel artist Namikawa Yasuyuki. [35]

As Western imports became popular, demand for Japanese art declined within Japan itself. [36] In Europe and America, the new availability of Japanese art led to a fascination for Japanese culture a craze known in Europe as Japonisme. [37] Imperial patronage, government sponsorship, promotion to new audiences, and Western technology combined to foster an era of Japanese artistic innovation. In the decorative arts, Japanese artists reached new levels of technical sophistication. [32]

Today, Masayuki Murata owns more than 10,000 Meiji art works and is one of the most enthusiastic collectors. From that time, most of the excellent works of Meiji Art were bought by foreign collectors and only a few of them remained in Japan, but because he bought back many works from foreign countries and opened the Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum, [38] the study and reevaluation of Meiji Art rapidly advanced in Japan after the 21st century. [39] Nasser Khalili is also one of the world's most dedicated collectors of Meiji art, and his collection encompasses many categories of Meiji art. The Japanese Imperial Family also owns excellent works of Meiji Art, some of which were donated to the state and are now stored in the Museum of the Imperial Collections.

Enamels Edit

During the Meiji era, Japanese cloisonné enamel reached a technical peak, producing items more advanced than any that had existed before. [40] The period from 1890 to 1910 was known as the "Golden age" of Japanese enamels. [41] Artists experimented with pastes and with the firing process to produce ever larger blocks of enamel, with less need for cloisons (enclosing metal strips). [40] During this period, enamels with a design unique to Japan, in which flowers, birds and insects were used as themes, became popular. Designs also increasingly used areas of blank space. [42] The two most famous enamelers of this era were Namikawa Yasuyuki and Namikawa Sōsuke, whose family names sound the same but who were not related. [42] Namikawa Sōsuke promoted his work as technically innovative, and adopted a style resembling fine paintings. Namikawa Yasuyuki was more conservative, opting for geometrical patterns but gradually becoming more pictorial during his career. [43] Along with the two Namikawa, the Ando Cloisonné Company has produced many high-quality cloisonné works.

Lacquerware Edit

Gold- or silver-decorated lacquerwares had been popular in the Edo period, but fell out of favor in the early nineteenth-century due to economic hardship. [44] The Meiji era saw a renewed interest in lacquer as artists developed new designs and experimented with new textures and finishes. Foremost among these was Shibata Zeshin, [44] who has been called "Japan's greatest lacquerer". [45] The appeal of his highly original style was in the choice of motifs and subject matter rather than embedded gold and silver. He placed lacquer panels in frames, imitating Western oil paintings. [46] Other notable lacquer artists of the 19th century include Nakayama Komin and Shirayama Shosai, both of whom, in contrast with Zeshin, maintained a classical style that owed a lot to Japanese and Chinese landscape art. [47] Maki-e, decorating the lacquer in gold or silver dust, was the most common technique for quality lacquerware in this period. [48] Lacquer from Japanese workshops was recognized as technically superior to what could be produced anywhere else in the world. [46]

Metalwork Edit

At the start of the Meiji era, Japanese metalwork was almost totally unknown outside the country, unlike lacquer and porcelain which had previously been exported. [49] Metalwork was connected to Buddhist practice, for example in the use of bronze for temple bells and incense cauldrons, so there were fewer opportunities for metalworkers once Buddhism was displaced as the state religion. [49] International exhibitions brought Japanese cast bronze to a new foreign audience, attracting strong praise. [49] Suzuki Chokichi, a leading producer of cast bronze for international exhibition, became director of the Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha from 1874 to the company's dissolution in 1891. In 1896 he was appointed Artist to the Imperial Household. [49] The works of Chokichi and his contemporaries took inspiration from late Edo period carvings and prints, combining and sometimes exaggerating traditional design elements in new ways to appeal to the export market. [50] The past history of samurai weaponry equipped Japanese metalworkers to create metallic finishes in a wide range of colors. By combining and finishing copper, silver and gold in different proportions, they created specialized alloys including shakudō and shibuichi. With this variety of alloys and finishes, an artist could give the impression of full-color decoration. [51] Some of these metalworkers were appointed Artists to the Imperial Household, including Kano Natsuo, Unno Shomin, Namekawa Sadakatsu, and Jomi Eisuke II. [52]

Porcelain Edit

Japan's porcelain industry was well-established at the start of the Meiji era, but the mass-produced wares were not known for their elegance. [53] During this era, technical and artistic innovations turned porcelain into one of the most internationally successful Japanese decorative art forms. [53] The career of porcelain artist Makuzu Kōzan is an archetype for the trajectory of Meiji art. [53] He was passionate about preserving traditional influences, but adopted new technologies from the West. [53] He was an entrepreneur as well as an artist, organizing a workshop with many artisans [54] and actively promoting his work at international exhibitions, travelling extensively in Europe. [55] As his career went on, he adopted more Western influences on his decoration, [56] while his works shaped Western perceptions of Japanese design. [43] Underglaze blue painting on porcelain was well-established in Japan, and the Kozan workshop transformed this practice, combining multiple underglaze colors on a single item and introducing more subtle graduations of color. [57]

Satsuma ware was a name originally given to pottery from Satsuma province, elaborately decorated with gilt and enamel. These wares were highly praised in the West. Seen in the West as distinctively Japanese, this style actually owed a lot to imported pigments and Western influences, and had been created with export in mind. [58] Workshops in many cities raced to produce this style to satisfy demand from Europe and America, often producing quickly and cheaply. So the term "Satsuma ware" came to be associated not with a place of origin but with lower-quality ware created purely for export. [59] Despite this, artists such as Yabu Meizan and Makuzu Kōzan maintained the highest artistic standards while also successfully exporting. [60] From 1876 to 1913, Kōzan won prizes at 51 exhibitions, including the World's fair and the National Industrial Exhibition. [61]

Ivory carving Edit

In the Meiji period, Japanese clothes began to be westernized and the number of people who wore kimono decreased, so the craftsmen who made netsuke and kiseru with ivory and wood lost their demand. Therefore, they tried to create a new field, ivory sculptures for interior decoration, and many elaborate works were exported to foreign countries or purchased by the Imperial Family. In particular, the works of Ishikawa Komei and Asahi Gyokuzan won praise in Japan. [62]

Textiles Edit

The 1902 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica wrote, "In no branch of applied art does the decorative genius of Japan show more attractive results than that of textile fabrics, and in none has there been more conspicuous progress during recent years. [. ] Kawashima of Kyoto [. ] inaugurated the departure a few years ago by copying a Gobelin, but it may safely be asserted that no Gobelin will bear comparison with the pieces now produced in Japan". [63] Very large, colorful pictorial works were being produced in Kyoto. Embroidery had become an art form in its own right, adopting a range of pictorial techniques such as chiaroscuro and aerial perspective. [63]

Music Edit

The interaction of Western and Japanese music in Meiji era is foremost linked to the military, religious and educational fields. The Japanese have assimilated Western culture and its music with the same surprising speed. Music panorama in Japan gradually became lively and prolific where the Western-inspired style music was flourishing. [64] [65] [66]

Military music Edit

The very first stage of Western adaptation in the Meiji period is associated with the military field. A little before the reopening Japan the first military academy based on Dutch model was founded in Nagasaki where, alongside with the military training, the military music was taught, since it was acknowledged to be an important component of the martial arts. The first military band called kotekitai, consisted of woodwind instruments and drums, was organized there.

Gradually, Western music became an integral part of the Japanese culture where the importance of Western music was undertaken as a part of a social project. The military bands played prominent role in the society. That included public concerts of Western music, which were held in a famous Rokumeikan Hall and Hibiya Open-Air stage in Tokyo, performing marches, patriotic music and European composers’ works (Richard Wagner, Charles Gounod, Peter Tchaikovsky).

With the contribution of foreign and Japanese authors, the first military music score collections were completed and published. In the military field, the Japanese conducting school was formed, the founders of which were English, French and German cultural figures such as John William Fenton, Charles Leroux, Franz Eckert. Under their leadership, the first Japanese military conductors were raised: Suketsune Nakamura and Yoshitoyo Yotsumoto. [64]

Christian Music Edit

Christian missions also became an important way for spreading Western-style music in Meiji era.

Yet, in the sixteenth century, the Portuguese missionaries introduced the first Western-style music to Japan: sacred choral music, music for organ, flute, harp, trumpet, violin, alto, double bass. However, soon the Christianity with its institutions was banned. In Meiji era the ban of Christianity was lifted, thus Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant missionaries started actively preaching, and the introduction of the sacred music became the integral part of their activities.

Thus, the Orthodox mission introduced the traditional choral music in Japan. The great impact in the choral music development was made by Ukrainian musicians: conductors Yakov Tikhai (served in the Orthodox mission from 1874 to 1886) and Dmytro Livovsky (served in the Orthodox mission from 1880 to 1921). They organized the first traditional choirs in Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo (known as Nikolai-do), taught music in Tokyo Theological Seminary, completed and published the first musical score collections, educated the first Japanese choir conductors and music teachers. Among them are Roman Chiba, Alexey Obara, Innokentiy Kisu, Yakov Maedako, Petr Tokairin, Ioan Nakashima, Moisei Kawamura, Ioan Owata, Pavel Isiya, Vasiliy Takeda, Andrey Abe, Alexandr Komagai, Fedor Minato, Alexey Sawabe, Luka Orit.

All of them became Orthodox Christians and adopted Christian names. [64]

Education Edit

The educational field also was a major way for adopting Western-style music. [67] The educational reforms were made by Isawa Shūji (1851-1917) and Luther Whiting Mason (1828-1896). In 1880, there was founded Music Research Institute in Tokyo (Ongaku Torishirabe Gakari) headed by Izawa Shuji. The Institute had three main tasks: 1) to introduce compulsory music teaching in schools, to introduce Western-style songs 2) to train music teachers for the further development of professional musical activities 3) to create music score collections for children, in which Japanese and Western style music elements could be combined. Thus, the first music scores “The First Collection for Primary School” was published in 1881. The newly educated music teachers organized lessons in singing, music theory, playing musical instruments (koto, kokyū, piano, organ and violin).

In 1887, Music Research Institute was reformed into Tokyo Academy of Music, what gave the Institution a new status and contributed to its further development. Western music was regarded as an essential contributory factor for modernization. The curriculum of a new type was improved, the number and quality of the musical events increased.

Tokyo Academy of Music became the first Western-style music educational establishment in Japan, which demonstrated the nascence of Western-style composer’s school in Japan, the genesis of opera traditions, specified the Japanese national features of familiarization with the Western music art. [64]


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1 Holcombe Charles, A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-First Century. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 216


Industrialization

Meiji leaders made the economy a major priority. They encouraged Japan’s businesses to adopt Western methods. They set up a modern banking system, built railroads, improved ports, and organized a telegraph and postal system.

To get industries started, the government typically built factories and then sold them to wealthy business families who developed them further. With such support, business dynasties like the Kawasaki family soon ruled over industrial empires. These powerful banking and industrial families were known as zaibatsu (zy baht soo).

By the 1890s, industry was booming. With modern machines, silk manufacturing soared. Shipyards, copper and coal mining, and steel making also helped make Japan an industrial powerhouse. As in other industrial countries, the population grew rapidly, and many peasants flocked to the growing cities for work.


Meiji Revolution

The Meiji Revolution (1853–1890) transformed Japan from a double-headed federation state with hereditary status system into a unitary monarchy that afforded greater rights and freedoms to the Japanese people. After ending the revolution by the establishment of constitutional monarchy, Japan promoted industrialization that would later energetically support its imperial expansion during the first half of the 20th century.

Intellectuals during the late Edo period (1603–1868) became disillusioned with the hereditary system of the Tokugawa regime. Because tradition prohibited them from criticizing any upper authorities directly, the intellectuals capitalized on a threat from outside to advocate for the necessity of political reforms, when Western envoys urged the opening of Japan toward the West after more than 200 years of seclusion. The intellectuals at first appealed to their lords to recreate military powers. Soon, they directed their efforts towards the emperor in Kyoto, and began to criticize the Tokugawa Shogunate openly. After ten years of political negotiations and small civil wars, they finally chose imperial restoration to oust the Tokugawa and set out for a series of radical reforms that would abolish local governments, dismantle samurai status, integrate discriminated people with commoners, and introduce various social institutions from the West.

Interesting characteristics distinguish the Meiji Revolution from other modern revolutions. For one, it fully utilized the authority of monarchy. Second, it appealed to the symbol “return to our ideal past” instead of the symbol “Progress.” Third, the death toll was also quite low: about 30,000, in contrast to 2,000,000 in French Revolution. At first glance, these characteristics would seem to set the Meiji Revolution apart from European movements—nevertheless, the Meiji Revolution inaugurated the beginning of an egalitarian and free society, and careful examination of the Meiji Revolution has the potential to shed new light on hidden aspects of other modern revolutions across the globe.


Fall of the Bakufu

When U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry steamed into Edo Bay (Tokyo Bay) in 1853 and demanded that Tokugawa Japan allow foreign powers access to trade, he unwittingly sparked a chain of events that led to Japan's rise as a modern imperial power and the fall of the bakufu.

Japan's political elites realized that the U.S. and other countries were ahead of Japan in terms of military technology and felt threatened by western imperialism. After all, powerful Qing China had been brought to its knees by Britain just 14 years earlier in the First Opium War and would soon lose the Second Opium War as well.


Samurai Rebellion

Under the shogunate, farmers were the main targets of taxation. Depending on the harvest, revenues could vary greatly from year to year. The Meiji government moved to set the tax burden on landowners, issuing bonds on which the value of land was written. In 1873, it made landowners responsible for paying a tax rate of 3% of the land value. This gave the government a reliable source of tax revenue, paid in cash rather than rice, which provided the stability for further modernization. The new government pushed forward with policies removing the previous class system&mdashwhich had divided the population into samurai, farmers, artisans, and merchants&mdashand establishing greater equality. It then introduced a three-year period of compulsory military service for males of 20 years of age. Japan&rsquos first regular army consisted of these conscripts.

As the samurai no longer maintained their former dominance in the military realm, there was considerable discontent. With the replacements of domains by prefectures, they lost their main employers. Their hereditary stipends were gradually abolished and replaced entirely by government bonds in 1876. The use of surnames&mdashonce a prerogative for samurai only&mdashwas extended to the general population, while an edict prohibiting the wearing of swords was a further blow to the identity of the warrior class. For these reasons, the Meiji government faced successive samurai uprisings, most seriously in 1877, when Saigō Takamori turned against the government in the Satsuma Rebellion. The new national army applied its full power to successfully subjugating the insurgency, which was the last military threat to the Meiji government&rsquos authority.

After this, discontented citizens sought to achieve change through what became known as the Freedom and People&rsquos Rights Movement. The movement began with criticism by Itagaki Taisuke of Tosa of the monopolizing of power within the government by the Satsuma-Chōshū faction. He advocated the establishment of a national assembly allowing citizens to take part in government. The campaign grew from a small group of disgruntled samurai to encompass rich farmers and ultimately ordinary citizens.

The March 1877 Battle of Tabaruzaka was the last major conflict of the Satsuma Rebellion. (Courtesy National Diet Library)


The History of China

Prehistory-1830

Same as Old Time Line. The Point of Divergence is around 1830, and assumes a group of progressive-minded Chinese government officials had toured Europe, and among them was a particularly vocal individual named Wang Yiwei.

The Late Qing Era

Early Developments

In the first few years during the reign of Emperor Daoguang (1820-1850) several governmental officials were sent overseas to observe how the Europeans were doing in affairs concerning war. The most influential military observer was Wang Yiwei, who was sent to tour England and France. When he returned in 1836, the Emperor reluctantly agreed to his request to start and train a Western-styled army using hired military advisors from Europe, known as the “Experimental Army,” albeit with very limited funds and hardly any support from the ruling class. Wang went back to Europe and tour Germany, Russia, Netherlands, and Italy to study their battle strategy.

Meanwhile the Emperor appointed governmental official Lin Zexu to try to solve the vexing issue of the British opium trade. When rioting British seamen murdered a Chinese man in July 1839, the ensuing debate over extraterritoriality escalated tensions and eventually erupted into to the Opium War. During the beginning phases of the war, the traditional Qing military were repeatedly defeated by the superior British troops. A turning point occurred when Emperor Daoguang decided to mobilize the yet-untested Experimental Army. Though not fully completed and lacking a competent officer corps, the Experimental Army won two Pyrrhic victories and forced the British into a stalemate. By the Treaty of Peking, the British recognized Chinese jurisdiction and agreed to respect the ban on opium, and in exchange, the Chinese greatly modified the Canton trading system to make it less restrictive, allowing trading in nearly all major port cities.

The Chinese experience with the war led them to be disillusioned with the traditional, hereditary Qing military. The Experimental Army proved far more effective in battle than the Bannermen and Green Standards, but it had been destroyed during the course of the fighting. Wang Yiwei and military officials quickly set about restructuring the Chinese military, making drastic reforms such as non-ethnically segregated conscript army under direct control of the Board of War, Western-style academies in which to train officers for the army, abolishing the Bannermen, and hiring military advisors from Europe.

Revolution

Growing Anti-Manchu sentiment had led to the 1848 Revolution in China, inspired by the ones happening all over Europe and led by Zhang Luoxing. The movement quickly gained momentum all over the countryside, and deposed the Qing government. The rebels had rallied behind Zhu Chongqing who claimed descent from of the Ming Dynasty rulers, and installed him as the new Yonghe Emperor of the Second Ming Dynasty. The new national government was a constitutional monarchy.

The Yonghe Era

Yonghe China was ruled by a small cadre of top ministers who had a far-reaching program to modernize the country. European nations greatly benefited from the less restrictive trade provisions in the 1841 Treaty of Peking, and the volume of trade between China and the West increased dramatically. Throughout this period the Ming government tried to maintain fair relations with European nations and the United States.

In 1854, China declared war on Russia and joined the Allied side of the Crimean War. In China, the war was called the “Walk-in War” because the Chinese armies basically “walked in” and did very little fighting. By the Treaty of Paris, signed on March 12, 1856, Russia recognized the validity of the Treaty of Nerchinsk, while China agreed to return all territories north of the Outer Xing'an (Stanovoy) Mountains to Russia, although the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky would remain as a major WW2 naval base to Japan.

In 1861, Japanese lords overthrew the Tokugawa Shogunate and the emerging Empire of Japan maintained close ties with China, partially due to the cotton trade. The economic relationship was formalized by the 1875 Oriental System, and a political alliance was achieved in 1889. Another nation that shared a close relationship with China was Britain which formed a mutual defense treaty against Russia in 1894.

Domestically, internal unrest, government focus on domestic development, and the people’s generally anti-imperialistic outlook prevented China from vigorously pursuing a global empire. Throughout the Yonghe period, however, China did on several occasions exert its influence locally. The 1881 Treaty of Hanoi signed with France in the aftermath of the Nam Đình Incident granted China a sphere of influence in northern Vietnam (Tonkin). In 1893, China leased from Siam a section of the Ithmus of Kra and completed the Malay Canal there in 1907after Britain got control of Thailand, with the exclusive control of shipping through it. The nations of China, Japan, and Britain controlled the canal.

The Great War

See The Great War for more information.

A complex web of alliances, colonial competition, and ethnic and nationalistic rivalries are all contributing causes to the Great War. When the global conflict erupted in August 1914, it pitted the Central Powers against the Oriental Alliance, Entente Powers and the United States. Paris fell in a matter of weeks and France surrendered to Germany. Italy, though originally a member of the Triple Alliance, remained neutral until Germany’s spectacular victory over France convinced it to join the Entente Powers.

After France’s defeat, the European theater shifted to Africa, where the Germans and the British poured in armies to fight over the colonies, and where the Free French forces of the exiled French government rallied troops in defiance of Metropolitan France’s surrender to continue fighting the Germans.

Russia, the Oriental Alliance,  Britain and the USA continued to fight on. In February 1918, Germany signed a separate peace with Britain and the United States, which the Chinese viewed as peace.

In January 1921, the hawkish government in China fell, and the replacement National Republican government, which adopted a more conciliatory tone to its enemies, agreed to an armistice and a peace based on Wilson’s Sixteen Points. In the negotiations at London, diplomats from Europe and the United States redrew the world.

National Republican Era

When China stabilized, the National Republican party held dominance in the government for a decade. During this period, China experienced social unrest, runaway inflation, economic depression, and massive corruption.

Military dictatorship (1931-1953)

In April 1931, General Chiang Kai-shek, buoyed by mass public support, led a bloody coup d’état against the National Republican government. In a matter of weeks, he eliminated opposition and consolidated his power. The military dictatorship he established promised to restore China’s greatness and redeem its image in the world.

Chiang made recovery from China’s economic downturn a top national priority. Two months after taking power, he implemented currency reform and overhauled the national banking system. The government financed large public works projects which mainly focused on improving infrastructure.

Remilitarization and Reoccupation Expeditions

In February 1935, China renounced the terms of the Treaty of Thames that placed limitations on the standing army size, naval size, and armament stockpiles. As China remilitarized and rearmed itself, the rest of the world did little other than ban China from the League of Nations. Robert Goddard was offered a teaching position at Tsinghua University which he accepted. During his stay at the university, his throat cancer was detected and successfully treated. The position of Goddard at the university helped Sino-American relations to the extent that Smedley D Butler was considering a trade agreement.

Chiang's agenda was shifted to the defense of China Proper or the lackthereof. Without the buffer territories of Mongolia's and Sinkiang's desert, and the Tibetan plateau, the Chinese heartland vulnerable to invasion. So Chiang devised plans to bring all three frontiers back under Chinese control without arousing conflict with greater powers.

Reoccupation of Tibet

It is widely-known that Tibet would not be able to defend itself and relied on international pressure and good neighbours to keep China out. Chiang exploited this to his advantage. Tibet's short-lived independence was ended when the Chinese Army marched uncontested into Lhasa in May 1935. War-weary Britain does not want to confront China, but asks Turkestan and Mongolia to "persuade" China to withdraw from Tibet.

Reoccupation of Uyghuristan

China's reclaiming of Tibet was seen as an invasion by Turkestan, which immediately mobilized to strike at China. But China beat them to it, launching a massive pre-emptive strike capturing Urumuqi. Chiang's defensive strategy was to stay on the offensive and use natural barriers for holding off the enemy, in this case the Taklamakan Desert. Elsewhere in the Yunnan frontier province, Chiang has setup defenses against possible British and French incursions through the dense jungles.

The young Turkestan Federation, rife with internal conflict and without an integrated and experienced army, was no match for the Chinese Army and a ceasefire was soon agreed to demarcate a new border between China, where Turkestan cedes the entire Taklamakan and its fringe oasis towns to the Chinese.

Reoccupation of Mongolia

Landlocked between the Russians and the Chinese, Mongolia was forced to be economically dependent on both, yet the war had devastated both countries' economies, profoundly affecting Mongolia. However, the Chinese economy had been recovering much quicker than Russia due to its remilitarization policies and large workforce population while neighbouring China grew economically stronger everyday, the Russian Far East remained a desolate undeveloped territory. The Mongolian economy became intrinsically tied to China.

The invasion of Tibet and skirmish with Turkestan greatly alarmed the Mongolian leadership. They knew they were next. In order to extract the best terms, Mongolia suggested a union between China and Mongolia for greater social, economic, and political integration. But Chiang wanted outright annexation, and because of China's superior position on the bargaining table, Mongolia was annexed into the Chinese state. Chiang however gave good terms, elevating Mongol leadership to high positions of government, to the envy of other minorities.

Seizing the Kra Canal

The reoccupation of China's lost territories was so swift and sudden that it surprised the world and even Chiang Kai-Shek was surprised himself. With the western and northern frontiers pacified, with increased confidence, Chiang turned his attention to the south, where it had lost influence over Annam to French Indochina but more importantly, control over the Malay Canal to Britain and France.

Sino-Russian Far East War

The new Russian fascist government's anxiety over Chinese influence in the Russian Far East and the desire for a Pacific ice-free port lead to a full-blown conflict along their common border from the Outer Xing'an (Stanovoy) Mountains in the east all the way to Tannu Uriankhai in the west. The Russian objective was to capture the city of Haishenwei. The Russian secret service also tried to stimulate rebellions in China's Manchurian, Mongolian, and Muslim dominions with little success.

Second Republic (1953-present)

As an aging Chiang Kai-Shek retired from public life, China exploded in a frenzy of democratization and liberalization. An aging Goddard resigned from his post and wrote his memoirs, A Rocket to China, detailing his life in China before he returned to the United States.

Alliance with the USA

Eisenhower famously went to Nanjing to discuss with President Bai Chongxi a trade agreement in 1954. They both agreed to the treaty. They were also afraid of Communism (now taking root in Latin America and India, as well as Africa) spreading, so Secretary of State Richard Nixon established the policy of "containment," which meant isolating the Communist countries, as well as giving aid to the non-communist countries that feel under threat from Communism. A third faction began to rise in this Cold War, with Fascist Italy (Mussolini still gets in power ATL) and DNVP Germany founding the "European Community".


Watch the video: Samurai, Daimyo, Matthew Perry, and Nationalism: Crash Course World History #34 (January 2022).