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HIST 218 - Chapter Eight: Emergence of Modern Japan

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HIST 218
Gavin Walker

Chapter Eight - The Emergence of Modern Japan: 1874-1894 Key Dates: 1868: restoration 1877: Satsuma rebellion 1889: promulgation of Constitution 1890: rescript on education 1894: start of Sino-Japanese war ------ Meiji leaders first priority was to transform japan into a modern nations equal to the west. Some changes were patently new, and others were a re-interpretation or new version of the past. Myths of „national essence‟ draws on Tokugawa nativist thought, but they became myths participating in Japan‟s process of becoming modern. Political Developments - small inner circle dominates government from 1870s to 1880s - 1874: military force sent to Taiwan; China recognizes Japanese sovereignty over Ryukyu - samurai who felt betrayed by Meiji leaders led uprisings in 1874 (Hizen), 1876 (Western Kyushu), and 1877 (Satsuma) Satsuma Rebellion - led by Saigo Takamori - 42 000 - strained resources of Restoration government, but was ultimately crushed - last stand of the samurai - continued violence - assassination of Okubo Toshimichi in 1878 - other assassinations, successful and attempts - non-violent political opposition, including those demanding elected legislature (remember first article of 1868 Charter Oath) - advocates for constitutions and popular rights drew on Western political theory - constitutionalism, rule of law, „social contract,‟ human rights - not necessarily limiting power of state as in the West; instead, main argument was that representative institutions “would create greater unity between the people and the emperor” - constitution not control emperor, but control his advisors - Okuma Shigenobu: 1881, wrote letter advocating English parliamentary system - clashed with conservative and gradualist views of his colleagues - ousted: Emperor grant constitution in 1890 Formation of Parties - first parties: Liberal (Jiyuto) and Progressive (Kaishinto) - both wanted constitutional government with meaningful powers exercised by Parliament - Jiyuto: rural support, wanted lower taxes - Kaishinto: urban, moderate, English-style liberalism, backed by merchants and industrialists - internal factionalism (patron-client relations) - restrictive laws (1875 and 1877) controlled political criticism - 1880 Public Meeting Law: all political meetings under police supervision - Liberal party hurt by antagonisms from within - “impossible to contain within one party both radicals who supported, and even led, peasant riots and the substantial landowners who were the objects of these attacks” - stifling critics, government also set up centralized local administration, putting end to Tokugawa local self-government - local assemblies created; limited rights - new codes: bureaucratic procedure, civil service, criminal law, civil and commercial laws - Ito Hirobumi: studied European theories and practices, mostly German, from 1882-1883 - 1884: created new peerage, composed of old nobility, former daimyo, and some members of oligarchy - 1885: European-style cabinet created with Ito as premier - 1888: Privy Council organized as highest government advisory board Emperor and the Constitution - 1882: division of Shinto into Shrine and Sect - former became official state institutions; latter became regular „religious‟ bodies - “permitted the government to identify itself with the Shinto tradition from which it derived the mystique of the emperor, source of its own authority, while at the same time meeting the demands for religious tolerance voiced by japanese reformers and Western nations” - nativism and modernity combined to form image of Emperor, which represented both old and new - 1889: new constitution promulgated as „gift‟ from emperor to people - Emperor was supreme, source of sovereignty; could declare war, sign treaties, command army, dissolve legislature, veto legislation, issue ordinances, amend Constitution - actual power exercised by Privy Council, cabinet, Diet, and general staff - ministers responsible to emperor, not legislature - bicameral Diet - House of Representatives elected by constituency of tax-paying property owners amounting to 1.1 per cent of population - biggest power was fiscal; however, automatic renewal of previous budget if Diet fails to pass one - norm: prime minister and other major decisions reached by consulting genro (elder statesmen and leaders of Meiji restoration) - oligarchs underestimated power of parties; only 79 members favouring government were elected, while Liberal won 130 and Progressives won 47 (1890) - result was fierce budget battle - 1891: budget failed to pass, Parliament dissolved 1892: next election; police used to discourage opposition, still failed to win favourable Parliament 1893: imperial intervention 1894: majority remained opposed to government; Diet dissolved after month and a half Only war with China over Korea broke political deadlock. Western Influences on Values and Ideas - enthusiasm for Western influences - Emperor himself wore Western clothes - Meirokusha: prestigious society devoted to all aspects of Western knowledge ‘Civilization and Enlightenment’ - European Enlightenment: reason could produce progress in problems; main obstacles to truth and happiness were irrationality and superstition - firm belief in progress influenced Japanese intellectual - corollary to this was a negative reevaluation of Chinese civilization, regarded as unchanging and decadent - China went from classical civilization to negative model; regarded with condescension as much as concern - Fukuzawa Yukichi: traced lack of individualism to social institutions such as family - still a bit sexist, though a visionary for the time (monogamy; women should be educated, hold property; held that women were artificially stunted) - held that history made by people not great leaders - independence of people and country linked - believed universal movement of history in direction of democracy; individual liberty is national strength - looked to European natural law Social Darwinism - discourse became many-sided following „civilization and enlightenment,‟ but natural law replaced by another: social darwinism - applied to success or failure of individuals in society, it justified brutal competition; focused on militar
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