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Lecture 4

Week 4 Meridian notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Neville Panthaki

1. Commentary on the Meiji Constitution by Ito Hirobumi the Meiji constitution, promulgated on February 11, 1889, and presented to the people of Japan as a gift from their emperor, was in many ways the culmination of the Meiji Restoration Restoration, which toppled Tokugawa shogunate (military government) in 1868, promised to restore the emperors powers and rid Japan of foreigners the latter aim, as Ito Hirobumi (1841 1909) explains in this document, quickly changed as Japan opened its doors to the outside world and began to reap the benefits of contacts with the Westone of those benefits was supposed to be the establishment of a constitutional monarchy Japans constitution reflected not only deep-seated reverence for the emperor, but also a desire on the part of the samurai leaders of the new Meiji state to give away as little political power to the Japanese people as possible Ito Hirobumi was one of Meiji eras most prominent politicians, who served as Japans first PM, and returned to post three times over next few decades a samurai from the restive feudal domain of Choshu, Ito was one of early leaders of the Meiji Restoration and an effective diplomat for the new regime popular agitation for more political rights at home compelled Ito and other government leaders to think about Japanese constitution, toward which Ito and other members of Meiji oligarchy travelled to Europe in 1882 and 1883 to study other constitutional governments, eventually favouring Prussian model the new constitution established the foundations of Japanese democracy, but the quest for empire soon overwhelmed popular calls for more political freedoms and resulted in the brutal quashing of dissent, however, in an unfortunate omen of East Asian antagonism toward Japanese imperialism, Ito was assassinated by a Korean nationalist in 1909 while serving as Resident General of Korea in this particular speech given in 1889 after promulgation of Meiji constitution, Ito not only presents historical justification for Meiji Restoration, but also explains why Meiji constitution incorporates extremely prominent role for Japanese emperor apparently anticipating objections to the limited role of the assembly, he also lays out the rationale for a form of constitutional monarchy he feels is particularly suited to Japans national character Other Information Meiji Restoration was a chain of events that led to enormous changes in Japans political and social structure it occurred in later half of 19period that spans both late Edo period (often called Late Tokugawa shogunate) and beginning of Meiji era accelerated industrialization in Japan, which led to its rise as military authority by year 1905, under slogan of enrich the country, strengthen the military Meiji oligarchy that formed the government under the rule of the Emperor first introduced measures to consolidate their power against the remnants of the Edo period government, the shogunate, daimyo, and the samurai class Meiji Constitution was fundamental law of Empire of Japan from 29 November 1890 until 2 May 1947 enacted after Meiji Ishin, it provided for a form of constitutional monarchy based on Prussian model, in which Emperor of Japan was active ruler and wielded considerable political power, but shared this with an elected diet after Meiji Restoration, which restored direct political power to emperor for first time in over millennium, Japan underwent period of sweeping political and social reform and westernization aimed at strengthening Japan, to the level of the nations of the Western world the immediate consequence of the Constitution was the opening of the first Parliamentary government in Asia Meiji constitution established clear limits to power of executive branch and absolutism of the Emperor and it also created an independent judiciary however, it was ambiguous in wording, and in many places self-contradictory, which meant that leaders of government and political parties were left with task of interpretation as to whether it could be used to justify authoritarian or liberal-democratic rule it was the struggle between these tendencies that dominated the government of the Empire of Japan 2. Japans Twenty-One Demands emboldened by previous victories over China (1895) and Russia (1905) and strengthened by its annexation of Korea in 1910, Japan looked to the Chinese mainland in its growing quest to expand many of Western powers that had wrested concessions earlier from China were now preoccupied with WWI, and Japan seized that opportunity to present Yuan Shikai, president of the Chinese Republic, with the notorious Twenty-One Demands on January 18, 1915 Yuan was hampered by internal dissatisfaction with his dictatorial ways and Chinas continued financial problems despite negotiations with the Japanese, Yuan felt compelled to accept almost all of the demands, prompting an outburst of Chinese nationalism demands are separated into 5 groups, which together sought to extend Japanese control over Chinese territory, industry, finance, government, and defense the Han-Yeh-Ping Company, which is the subject of the 3ands, was Chinas premier iron and steel company Japans focus on the Chinese coastlineparticularly Fujian (Fukien) Provincewas a result of that regions geographical proximity to both Japan and the Japanese colonial possession of Taiwan (Formosa), acquired after the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 1895 after extended negotiations, China rejected most of Group V, which Japanese claimed insincerely had actually containing requests rather than demands Other Information Twenty One Demands were grouped into 5 groups: o Group 1 confirmed Japans recent acquisitions in Shandong Province, and expanded Japans sphere of influence over the railways, coasts and major cities of the province. st o Group 2 pertained to Japans South Manchuria Railway Zone, extending the leasehold over the territory into the 21 expanding Japans sphere of influence in southern Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, to include rights of settlement and www.notesolution.comextraterritoriality, appointment of financial and administrative officials to the government and priority for Japanese investments in those areas. o Group 3 gave Japan control of the Han-Yeh-Ping mining and metallurgical complex, already deep in debt to Japan. o Group 4 barred China from giving any coastal or island concessions to foreign powers except for Japan. o Group 5 contained a miscellaneous set of demands, ranging from Japanese advisors appointed to the Chinese central government and to administer the Chinese police force (which would severely intrude on Chinese sovereignty) to allowing Japanese Buddhist preachers to conduct missionary activities in China. knowing negative reaction Group 5 would cause, Japan initially tried to keep its contents secret the Chinese government attempted to stall for as long as possible and leaked the full contents of the Twenty-One Demands to the European powers in hopes that a perceived threat to their own political/economic spheres of interest would help contain Japan 3. Fukuzawa in the United States by Fukuzawa Yukichi Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835 1901) was born into a struggling samurai family at the end of the Tokugawa era (1600 1868), Japans last feudal regime Japan of Fukuzawas youth was structured by a rigid class system that was in turn dominated by legally and social privileged samurai class once proud warrior elite, samurai class was deeply divided by the end of the Tokugawa, a development caused by a lengthy peace and economic changes with no battles to fight and no new lands to distribute to their samurai retainers, the lords (daimyo) and other wealthy samurai maintained the loyalty of their vassals by paying them stipends of rice Fukuzawas family was categorized as lower samurai because of the size of their stipend Fukuzawa deeply resented constraints of feudalism and superstition, and found samurai pretentions absurd, given that many in his class were quite poor Tokugawa era was also significant for its highly restrictive trade policy shogun (military ruler) forbade most commerce and contact with Western merchants, with exception of small Dutch contingent that resided near Nagasaki prior to arrival of US Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 and the subsequent opening of Japan to Western trade, all knowledge about the West came in the form of Dutch language books that entered through the port city chafing under restriction of poverty and feudal obligation, Fukuzawa left home for the city of Osaka in 1855, and began an unorthodox but intellectually invigorating course of study that included the Dutch language, and Western medicine and science ironically, when the opportunity came in 1859 to meet and speak with Westerners in the Tokugawa capital of Edo (now Tokyo), Fukuzawa was horrified to discover that his knowledge of Dutch was useless; refusing to despair, he resolved to master English Fukuzawa was included in shoguns 1n to US in 1860 and he also accompanied 1 mission to Europe
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