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An introduction to the history of the meiji restoration in japan

  • Those men were motivated by growing domestic problems and by the threat of foreign encroachment;
  • As a result the government sought endlessly to secure fairer treaties during the 1870s;
  • First, the new leaders studied Western models with a zeal born of deep fear that weakness might invite invasion;
  • If the new system was hard on the traditional samurai class, it was devastating for vast numbers of people:

Those men were motivated by growing domestic problems and by the threat of foreign encroachment. The Meiji emperor proclaiming the Meiji Constitution in 1889.

  • The Restoration Legacy Though dramatically changed, Japan would not have been called modern yet in 1889 by most observers;
  • A national land tax system was established that required payment in money instead of rice, which allowed the government to stabilize the national budget;
  • Those men were motivated by growing domestic problems and by the threat of foreign encroachment;
  • The army and the navy were modernized;
  • Economics and market are both influenced how the people used the market as a place of growth.

That was followed, after the end of the fighting, by the dismantling of the old feudal regime. The administrative reorganization had been largely accomplished by 1871, when the domains were officially abolished and replaced by a prefecture system that has remained in place to the present day.

Reform and rebellion

All feudal class privileges were abolished as well. Also in 1871 a national army was formed, which was further strengthened two years later by a universal conscription law.

In addition, the new government carried out policies to unify the monetary and tax systems, with the agricultural tax reform of 1873 providing its primary source of revenue. Another reform was the introduction in 1872 of universal education in the country, which initially put emphasis on Western learning. The revolutionary changes carried out by restoration leaders, who acted in the name of the emperor, faced increasing opposition by the mid-1870s.

Those uprisings were repressed only with great difficulty by the newly formed army.


Peasants, distrustful of the new regime and dissatisfied with its agrarian policies, also took part in revolts that reached their peak in the 1880s. National Diet Library At the same time, a growing popular rights movement, encouraged by the introduction of liberal Western ideas, called for the creation of a constitutional government and wider participation through deliberative assemblies.

Responding to those pressures, the government issued a statement in 1881 promising a constitution by 1890. In 1885 a cabinet system was formed, and in 1886 work on the constitution began. Finally in 1889 the Meiji Constitutionpresented as a gift from the emperor to the people, was officially promulgated.

Meiji Restoration

It established a bicameral parliament, called the Diet —in full Imperial Diet Teikoku Gikai —to be elected through a limited voting franchise. The first Diet was convened the following year, 1890. Accomplishments Economic and social changes paralleled the political transformation of the Meiji period. Although the economy still depended on agriculture, industrialization was the primary goal of the government, which directed the development of strategic industries, transportation, and communications.

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

Japanese History/The Meiji Restoration

National Diet Library Wholesale Westernization was somewhat checked in the 1880s, however, when a renewed appreciation of traditional Japanese values emerged. Such was the case in the development of a modern educational system that, though influenced by Western theory and practice, stressed the traditional values of samurai loyalty and social harmony.

  • The government also introduced a national educational system and a constitution, creating an elected parliament called the Diet;
  • By July 1869 the feudal lords had been requested to give up their domains, and in 1871 these domains were abolished and transformed into prefectures of a unified central state.

The same tendency prevailed in art and literature, where Western styles were first imitated, and then a more-selective blending of Western and Japanese tastes was achieved. By the early 20th century, the goals of the Meiji Restoration had been largely accomplished. Japan was well on its way to becoming a modern industrialized country. The unequal treaties that had granted foreign powers judicial and economic privileges through extraterritoriality were revised in 1894, and with the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 and its victory in two wars over China in 1894—95 and Russia in 1904—05Japan gained respect in the eyes of the Western world, appearing for the first time on the international scene as a major world power.