Japan, Meiji Period

Meiji restoration

Meiji restoration, The term refers to both the events of 1868 that led to the "restoration" of power to the emperor and the entire period of revolutionary changes that coincided with the Meiji emperor's reign (1868–1912). The power of the Tokugawa shogunate, weakened by debt and internal division, had declined, and much opposition had built up in the early 19th cent. The intrusion of Western powers, particularly the Americans under Admiral Matthew C. Perry, precipitated further discontent. Under pressure, the Tokugawa shogunate submitted (1854) to foreign demands and signed treaties that ended Japan's isolation. The powerful Choshu and Satsuma domains of W Japan tried to resist the foreigners on their own and were defeated (1863). These domains, excluded from the Tokugawa governing councils because of their status as tozama, or outside daimyo, then demanded creation of a new government loyal to the emperor to expel the foreigners. In Jan., 1868, samurai from these domains, with the support of anti-Tokugawa court nobles, succeeded in a palace coup that abolished the shogunate and "returned" power to the emperor. The court was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo, where a centralized administration was created. The new Meiji government moved quickly to discard the feudal system and launch a series of reforms that profoundly changed Japanese society. These reform programs—administrative, economic, social, legal, educational, and military—were carried out under the slogan "fukoku Kyohei" (enrich the country and strengthen the military). The government adopted many policies designed to create a modern economy and society. Students were sent to Europe and the United States to study modern science and technology, while foreign experts were hired to help establish factories and educational institutions. In 1889 the Meiji Constitution was adopted. In the late Meiji years, Japan won the Sino–Japanese war in 1895, defeated Russia in 1905, abolished the treaties with the West, and became a world power.

See K. B. Pyle, The New Generation in Meiji Japan (1969); W. G. Beasley, The Meiji Restoration (1972); C. Gluck, Japan's Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period (1985); M. Umegaki, After the Restoration: The Beginning of Japan's Modern State (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Modern Japan: A Social and Political History
Elise K. Tipton.
Routledge, 2002
Japan's Competing Modernities: Issues in Culture and Democracy, 1900-1930
Sharon A. Minichiello.
University of Hawaii Press, 1998
A Political History of Japan during the Meiji Era, 1867-1912
Walter Wallace McLaren.
Allen & Unwin, 1916
Japan's Emergence as a Modern State: Political and Economic Problems of the Meiji Period
E. Herbert Norman.
International Secretariat, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1940
Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History
Harry Wray; Hilary Conroy.
University of Hawaii Press, 1983
Japan-American Diplomatic Relations in the Meiji-Taisho Era
Kamikawa Hikomatsu.
Pan-Pacific Press, 1958
A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
Andrew Gordon.
Oxford University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Part 2 "Modern Revolution: 1868-1905"
Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan
James L. Huffman.
University of Hawaii Press, 1997
The World of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization
Julia Meech-Pekarik.
Weatherhill, 1986
Proliferating Talent: Essays on Politics, Thought, and Education in the Meiji Era
Motoyama Yukihiko; J. S. A. Elisonas; Richard Rubinger.
University of Hawaii Press, 1997
The Japanese Seizure of Korea, 1868-1910: A Study of Realism and Idealism in International Relations
Hilary Conroy.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1960
The Empress' New Clothes and Japanese Women, 1868-1912
Hastings, Sally A.
The Historian, Vol. 55, No. 4, Summer 1993
A Short Economic History of Modern Japan, 1867-1937
G. C. Allen.
George Allen & Unwin, 1946
Search for more books and articles on Meiji Japan