Japan From Tokugawa To Meiji Restoration 1868-1912

Meiji Restoration

Japan like other people has been shaped in large part by the law in which they live. Its location, climate and natural endowment are unchangeable facts that have set limits to their development and helped gave it specific direction but these alone cannot account by its neighbours, China and the Soviet Union, and Canada, which face it across the Pacific.

In geographical location, Japan is bounded to the west by the sun of Japan which separates it from the eastern shores of the Soviet Union of Sakhalin and the sea of Okhotsk, to the northeast by the southern Kuril island which since the second world war had been under Soviet administration, the east-ad south by the Pacific Ocean and to the south-west by the east china sea which separates it from the People’s Republic of China. In the time of primitive navigation, the seas constituted a consideration barrier and the rough 450miles of open sea between Japan and China was more formidable.


The Meiji Era, 1868-1912 represents one of the most remarkable periods in the set put to achieve in only a few Emperor Meiji, Japan set out to achieve in only a few demands what had taken centuries to develop in the western world. That is the creation nation with modern industries, modern political institution and a modern pattern of society.



Among the top step taken by the government of Meiji was the abolition of feudalism and a breach from the past. The imperial capital was moved to Edo which had been the real political capital of Japan for two and a half countries.

On 3rd September 1869, the leaders of Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa and Saga persuaded their daimyo to hand over their lands to an emperor. As a result, the imperial court took steps to the organised centralized government. The territories were divided into 72 preference and three metropolitan preferences and the daimyo were governor over their former domain and were given one-tenth of the taxes as their private income till 1811. In 1871, the complete abolition of the domains and feudalism was announced and the daimyo for the given lump sum payment in the form of government bonds which they were able to invest in banking enterprise, and line in relative comfort.

The imperial government took the financial burden by paying the daimyo and Samaras who had monopolised the martial arts and political leadership for centuries.


The new leaders saw that military strength was crucial not only for the control of the nation but also to enable them to protect and defend Japan from the West. In 1871, the government formed an imperial force of ten thousand men drawn from the domain of Satsuma, Choshu and Tosa and trained them along French lines.

In 1872, it divided the ministry of military affairs into army and navy ministries. The most important military innovations came with the issuance on 10th January 1873 of conscription law. All men regardless of social background were made liable for three years of active military service followed by four in the services. Universal conservation which had been prefigured by the use of commoners volunteers in the mixed units in Chosu a decade earlier was probably the most revolutionary step in the modernization for Japan.


The Japanese in their fear of Western enthronements were reluctant to place themselves under the financial bondage of any foreign nation, therefore, they ah dot look inwards.

Within the mere-half-century, the Meiji leaders achieved their goals, creating a relatively sound and modernized economy on the basis of which Japan was able to run the national; security and equality it longed for.

Tokyo carried out series for monetary, banking and tax reforms which helped established its financial position.

Okuma Shigenobu who became vice-minister of finance in 1869 and it is the prime movers of these reforms.

They set up a modern mint, adopted the America system for national banking and they also established a uniform decimal currency in 1871 with the ten as its unit.

The Meiji leaders also removed the restriction that had impeded travel and commerce among different parts of the country during the Tokugawa period. Tokugawa old system of passports and barriers which had controlled traffic along the major highway was abolished and citizens were now free to travel and to choose their own places of residence With the abolition of domains many of the feudal constraints on the internal market were removed. A multitude restriction controlling commodity from one domain to another and the operation of the market were removed. Finally, the most of the restriction of foreign trade were removed and the export of rice, wheat, copper and raw silk once prohibited was now allowed.

The land tax system was modernized because the land tax was the government principal source revenue with which to finance its ambitious modernization programme.

In 1873, the government changed the basis for the land tax form percentage of the value of the annual crop to a percentage about 3% of the value of the land, and it was to be paid in money, not land.


Agriculture bore the initial burden of industrialization in Japan.

The Meiji government made attempts to improve agricultural techniques. Agricultural students were sent abroad and foreign experts were invited to advise on land use. A new seed was introduced and Western farm implement wer4e brought and tried. The experiment on planting vineyards failed, but innovation in irrigation methods and the use of chemical fertilizers were successful in increasing productivity.

Agriculture contributed to industrialization in the following ways:

  1. By providing the government through land tax with its principal sources of income with which it was able to finance the purchase of foreign technology and encourage industry.
  2. Agricultural produced the chief exports items like ten and raw silk that provided Japan with needed foreign advantage with which its imports capital goods.
  3. Agricultural also contributed to industrialization by feeding the growing population. The Japanese population after being virtually stagnant during the Tokugawa period began to rise again at not less than 1% per annum. Even taking the lower figure for the measure of agricultural productivity of 1%, agricultural productivities able to keep pace to produce the surplus which was available for modernization investment.


In 1870, the ministry of the industry was established with aim of setting up pilot enterprises and by showing their feasibility to encourage the private sector to invest in them. The programme was valuable in that it ironed out many initial and technical difficulties which private enterprise could not have been able to bear. The entrepreneurs could not have been able to bear. The method employed by the ministry was not developing industries, but to reach the Japanese modern technology.

The Meiji government never encourage direct foreign investment because it was afraid of its implication for national sovereignty, and for the same reason, they were very of foreign loans. The choice of field in which government enterprise was established was dictated by the need to build the national strength. Therefore, government enterprises were established in mining, shipbuilding, railways, machinery, arguments as well as construction-related industries.

Other, reforms that brought about Meiji restoration are essential infrastructure, education and other social reforms and constitutional.

The Sino-Japanese relation of the period under study.

The early Japanese society borrowed extensively from China. The scholarship philosophy and literature of China were much studied and deeply influence styles of thought and even habits of life in Japan.

The relationship between China and Japan had been built since the early Japanese society. This is because China and Korea were the closest neighbours of Japan. In this case in the early period of the Japan history. There was a great period surged forward in technology in such diverse field as weaving, leaguer ware, and metallurgy. An orchestral care music and dark were learned from China and Korea.

After the Meiji Restoration that Japan was transformed into modern economic, political and industrial society contributed to it the imperial policy of expansion. This policy made Japan interfere in Korea affairs which initiated China that seas Korea as part of its territory.

Meanwhile, China that was the leading forces in Asian continent saw Japan as a threat to its existence. However, the two countries had agreed in 18885 that neither would send troops to Korea without the knowledge of the other. China went into real fortification of her naval power. By 1894, Korea request China to assist in quelling a rebellion, China in line with the agreement inform Tokyo (Japan) and sent a small of troop but Japan sent in a larger member and after the rebellion Japan refuse to withdraw it troops instead demanded that Korea government should make a reform, which includes, the clarification of the power and duties of office on the basis of merit, assurance of fairness of trial, the adjustment of finances and reforms in military organization and the policy, reform in currency and the establishment of an educational system. This made the Korea king proclaim the abandonment of the China treaty and requested that Japanese should help drive Chinese troops out of Korea.

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