The Meiji Constitution was a Blend of Many Conflicting Ideas Essay

The Meiji Constitution was a Blend of Many Conflicting Ideas Essay

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The Meiji Constitution was a Blend of Many Conflicting Ideas

It has been said that “the Meiji Constitution of 1889 was a blend of
many conflicting ideas.” This statement is true to a great extent as
the Constitution contained a number of inconsistency and ambiguities.
As a matter of fact, it was proclaimed with the intention of solving
certain existing problems rather than giving Japan a liberal and
democratic institution. It served as a symbol of progress: appeasement
of those discontented and politically conscious; consolidation of
power of Meiji oligarchs; a cover of democracy; stimulus of Japan’s
nationalism as well as a typical example of imitation of the West, all
of which were conflicting in meaning to each other. The Meiji leaders
adopted a utilitarian approach in drafting the Constitution and they
tried to balance and reconcile these conflicting forces. In short, the
Meiji Constitution was made with the aim of killing several birds with
one stone.

The first blend of conflicting ideas was appeasement versus
symbolization, which led to the birth of the Constitution in 1889. As
early as Meiji Restoration, there was a clamor for parliamentary
government from the aggrieved and the politically conscious. The
discontented included the idle ex-samurai and indebted peasants. The
politically-conscious were merchants and educated class. The clamor
came to head the ‘People’s Right Movement’ in the 1870s. Consequently,
the Meiji Government decided to promulgate a constitution to calm down
the unrest.

However, this idea of appeasement was opposed to the idea of
necessity. Democratic institutions were considered the inevitable
c...


... middle of paper ...


... publication, public meetings
and association. However, all these rights were useless whenever it
seemed appropriate by the government. Therefore, in this blend of
conflicting ideas, Japanization formed a greater proportion.

Although the Meiji Constitution was a blend of many conflicting ideas,
it was a success for several decades. The reason for its success lied
in that: although the ideas themselves were contradictory, there was
no common ground on which they clashed, as some ideas were only
superficially meant and therefore given only the show of them, while
other ideas were seriously meant. However, the Meiji Constitution must
be a blend of conflicting ideas, it could not be purely progressive as
Japan could not change herself overnight. A blend of conservatism and
progressives was only the practical thing to do.

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