Modern Japan: A History in Documents

By James L. Huffman | Go to book overview

Timeline

1600

Tokugawa Ieyasu wins control of Japan with battle victory over rival feudal lords at Sekigahara; Edo named capital

1603

Tokugawa Ieyasu takes the title [shogun,] establishing his family's formal rule of Japan

1635–41

Government issues decrees to eradicate Christianity and Western traders from Japan; the Dutch are allowed to trade only at Dejima in Nagasaki

1688–1704

Urban culture flourishes, producing Kabuki theater, woodblock prints, popular literature, geisha culture; private schools for commoners, called terakoya, are established throughout Japan

1732–33

Massive famine leads to soaring rice prices and urban riots

1774

Sugita Genpaku and Maeno Ryōtaku translate Dutch anatomy book, initiating growth of secret but influential [Dutch learning] in scholarly world

1793–1808

Russian, British, and American ships visit Japan, seeking trade; Nagasaki magistrate commits suicide when British ship enters his port in 1808

1805

Hanaoka Seishū operates on a breast cancer patient and becomes the world's first doctor to do surgery under general anesthesia

1825

Government issues [no second thought] decree that expels any foreign ships entering Japanese waters

1833–37

Great Tempō era famine results in violent riots in Osaka, demanding increased relief for the poor

1841

Government launches reforms to improve public morals and curb expenses; their ineffectiveness undermines support for Tokugawa government

1853–54

Matthew Perry arrives with an American squadron and demands that Japan open its ports; Kanagawa Treaty of 1854 provides for two open ports and diplomatic relations between the two nations

1858

Japan-U.S. Treaty of Amity and Commerce is signed, opening trade; treaties with other countries follow

1860

Chief minister Ii Naosuke is assassinated for signing the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Amity and Commerce; Japan's first diplomatic mission travels to United States

1864

The domain of Chōshū revolts unsuccessfully against the Tokugawa government

1868

Southwestern samurai overthrow Tokugawa government; Meiji government is launched

1871

Feudal domains are replaced with modern prefectures; Iwakura Mission begins eighteen-month foreign study mission

1872

Government decrees compulsory education and announces military draft

1873

Leading official Saigō Takamori and followers resign from the government in protest over Japan's relations with Korea

1874

Japan defeats China in Taiwan military expedition; demands for a popular assembly initiate freedom and rights movement

1877

Saigō Takamori leads unsuccessful Satsuma Rebellion

1879

Japan seizes Ryūkyū islands and forms Okinawa Prefecture

1881

Scandal over fraudulent sale of government lands in Hokkaidō leads to promise of a constitution; Japan's first political parties are founded

1884–85

Peasants rebel over economic problems, high taxes, and harsh lending practices

1889

Meiji Constitution, Asia's first constitutional monarchy, is promulgated

1890

First national legislature is convened; government issues Imperial Rescript on Education

1894–95

Japan wins SinoJapanese War, launching its colonial empire; Russia, Germany, and France intervene, requiring Japan to return its holdings in Manchuria to China

-212-

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