Reorganization of army and navy--law--national education
system--agricultural development--transport--state factories
--textiles--knowledge of the West
ON JANUARY 1, 1873, a new calendar was brought into force in Japan: the Gregorian calendar, as used in western Europe, which replaced the lunar calendar originally derived from China. The change affected much that was familiar. Dates for festivals, the beginning of the four seasons, the New Year itself, all now fell on different days. The farmer had to learn new designations for his times of planting and harvesting, the merchant for his debt-collecting, the priest for his ceremonials. Even though many preferred to go on using the old system side by side with the new, the decision had repercussions which struck deep into Japanese life. Equally, it symbolized an important aspect of the government's policy, its determination to turn away from the traditional and towards the modern, away from China and towards the West, at least in those matters on which the building of a powerful and well respected state depended. The policy was not entirely new, either in concept or in method. Nevertheless, the Meiji leaders gave it a breadth and drive that were to revolutionize society. Indeed, by 1904 they had transformed a backward, largely feudal, Japan into one which was capable of winning a modern war, an achievement that made them the envy of all Asia.
Some of the foundations for it had been laid before the Restoration. For several generations Japanese scholars had been studying the West, especially its military science, and after Perry's arrival their efforts had received official support. In 1855 the Tokugawa council established a bureau for the