Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Meiji State in Japan

     What is the Meiji state? Who established it?

The Meiji state was an era of Japan that lasted from 1868 CE thru 1912 CE.  This is a period that represents the first half of the modern Empire of Japan.  In 1867 / 1868 the Tokugawa era government was overthrown because of the need for a stronger central government.  The actual power was transferred from the Tokugawa Bakufu into the hands of a select group of nobles and former samurai.  The Emperor Meiji was restored to power and moved from Kyoto to Tokyo which became the new capital of the empire.

The new government aimed to make Japan a more democratic state with equality among its people. Some of the boundaries between the social classes under Tokugawa Japan were gradually broken down.  The reforms also included the establishment of human rights such as religious freedom in 1873.

This era in the history of Japan brought it to the fore front in regional and global politics.  Japan under Emperor Meiji westernized in almost every aspect of their government but held true to a lot of Japanese tradition.  Officials were sent abroad to study western education, business, military, and other fields so Japan could become more competitive.  The Meiji era of Japan was also the start of Imperial Japan. Conflicts of interests in Korea between China and Japan led to the Sino-Japanese War in 1894 – 1895.  Japan defeated China, received Taiwan, but was forced by Russia, France and Germany to return other territories. The so called Triple Intervention caused the Japanese army and navy to intensify their rearmament.

New conflicts of interests in Korea and Manchuria, this time between Russia and Japan, led to the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 – 1905. The Japanese army also won this war gaining territory and finally some international respect. Japan further increased her influence on Korea and annexed her completely in 1910. In Japan, the war successes caused nationalism to increase even more.

In 1912 emperor Meiji died, and the era of the ruling clique of elder statesmen (genro) was about to end and a new era of Japanese imperialism was about to begin.

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