THE END OF AN ERA
Annexation of Korea--political society--the economy--city life
THE MEIJI emperor died on July 30, 1912, after a reign of forty-five years which had seen astonishing changes. His own status had been raised from that of an ineffective recluse, regarded by foreign visitors as something akin to a pope, to that of a semi-divine monarch of a vigorous nation state. His country after years of international weakness had won two wars and acquired the beginnings of an empire. His subjects had learnt and put to use new ways of making wealth. They were already beginning to show the effects of it in their standard of living. They were also more efficiently governed, better educated and more conscious of participating in national life than they had ever been before. In sum, the first stage of modernization had been successfully completed.
It is useful at this point to survey the effect of these achievements and the kind of society they had brought into being, for Japanese history in the twentieth century was to be in many ways an extension of them. Nor was it always a pleasing one. Industrialization was to bring not only a higher level of national wealth, but also a clash of interests between town and country, manager and worker, reactionary and progressive, arising from the pattern of its distribution. It was to contribute to a weakening of the family and of the community in their older forms. Again, the stresses which this introduced were to be the greater because of a growing awareness of the dichotomy between what was Japanese and what was foreign, what was traditional and what was modern, in ideas, in politics, in social custom and much else. Thus Japan under her next two