Modernization of Japan: The Meiji Restoration

634 Words3 Pages
The Meiji Restoration played a significant role in the modernisation of Japan. The Meiji period was a time of political and social revolution. It brought momentous social, political and economic changes to Japan, and these changes became the foundation of the Japan we know today. Prior to the 1868 Restoration, Japan was a militarily weak country with a feudal agricultural society, and was controlled by feudal lords. When the Meiji period ended with the Emperor's death in 1912, Japan was a well-developed nation with a constitutional monarchy, an elected government, a strong economy, a powerful military and a well educated population. The Meiji Restoration allowed Japan to modernise and adopt the ideas, technologies, and social, political and economic systems of the Western world. Some of the major changes that happened to the political system during the Meiji period was the introduction of the Imperial Charter Oath and the Meiji Constitution. The Imperial Charter Oath of April 1868 was a document that officially declared the breakaway from the old feudal system. The fifth provision which stated, “Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule,” is perhaps the most important because it officially opened Japan to the world. It encouraged the modernisation of the country by encouraging the Japanese people to study the Western world and adopt their social, political and economic systems to Japan if possible. The new leaders also thought that a constitutional government would put Japan on par with the Western powers. Thus, the Meiji Constitution, modelled on the Prusso-German model, was created in 1889. The Constitution established the Emperor as the sovereign, developed a bicameral... ... middle of paper ... ...d the growing businesses and industries. However, this soon led to a financial crisis which was then followed by a reform in the currency system. The Bank of Japan, inspired by the European banking system, was also established and this encouraged specialised banks to be created to help fund for agriculture, special industries and trade. These developments helped Japan's economic systems greatly. In conclusion, the Meiji Restoration was significant in the modernisation of Japan because it exposed Japan to the Western culture, and brought momentous social, political and economic changes to Japan. Historian John Whitney Hall described the Meiji Restoration as “Japan's transition to modernity” and “proved to be one of the pivotal events in Japanese history.” Westernisation and the changes brought by the Meiji Restoration provided the framework for the modern Japan.
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