Meiji means ‘the enlightened rule’ in Japanese. In Japan the period from 1868 to 1912 is called ‘Meiji Era’?. (Meiji Period). The name Meiji was chosen by the young prince Mutsuhito, when he succeeded his father to the throne. During this period Japan emerged as a world political and economic power. Japan underwent a surprising progress from medieval society to important and primary military power and economic power in Asia. During the Meiji period the emperor was only fifteen years old but he was fortunate to have a group of excellent advisors who brought amalgamation of eastern and western cultures.
They adapted western ideas while retaining the importance of the east. During this period the government made all efforts to build up its military strength and progress economic status. The samurai warriors were the traditional military system in Japan. The samurai system was replaced by the essential military service. The army was trained by the Prussian and French instructors. In two major wars that is in Sino-Japanese war of 1894-95 against china and Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05 against Russia, the Japanese army proved its superiority.
Japan has emerged as the strong new power in Asia after these two wars. The Government gave importance to the ideas and interests of farmers, samurai, merchants and former feudal estate owners. Foreign experts were employed in the fields of defense, industry, agriculture and transportation and their methods and practices were cautiously considered and adopted. Political and social reforms were given much importance during this period.
Some of the reforms include declaration of religious freedom in 1873; the lunar calendar which was considered most important by the Japanese society was replaced by Gregorian calendar, introduction of the taxation system, freedom of trade, and freedom of land acquisition and in 1890 first elections was held for DIET. Along with this education was also given utmost importance and was made compulsory. The attendance at schools stood at ninety-eight percent by the end of the Meiji period. The Meiji era was a phase of strong emotions and radical reforms. The government intended to build Japan as a democratic country.
Many of the Japanese scholars were sent to western countries to study languages and western science to improve the agrarian economy of Tokugawa Japan in to developed industrial sector. By means of huge governmental investments, the communication networks and transportation were developed. The first telegraph line was established between Yokahoma and Tokyo in 1869, a horse-drawn tramway system was introduced, national postal service was introduced in 1871the first steel bridge known as Azuma steel bridge was opened, in 1872, Meiji emperor opened the first train connection between Tokyo and Yokahoma.
The powerful and large businesses in Japan known as zaibatsu were supported by the government to develop and support the industries and businesses. The period in 1880’s also led to financial crisis due to huge expenditures which led to the reform in the currency system and establishment of the Bank of Japan. The textile industry became the largest industry and grew faster in Japan until World War II. In 1889 Japan established its first European style constitution.
The emperor was top of the navy, executive, army and legislative power. During the Meiji period, Japan emerged as a major power and a developed country. Japan was changed totally by the western stone buildings which include deparment stores, banks and government sites. The Meiji period led to the economic boom and standard military power. REFERENCES: 1. Meiji Period (1868-1912), Japan cultural profile, October 5, 2006. http://www. culturalprofiles. net/japan/Directories/Japan_Cultural_Profile/-13234. html
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