Chapter 6 Outline
Traditionalist Reforms and the Origins of Modernity (1860s – 1895) Pages 172 - 207
Japan's Meiji Transformation
The anti-Tokugawa samurai, from Satsuma, Tosa, etc., emerged as the leaders of Meiji
Japan following the Meiji Restoration (1868). The Restoration had been, in part, the
result of the unequal treaties. The new leaders dismantled the old status system, thus
allowing the samurai to pursue careers in commerce.
The idea of Japan as a nation and nationalism came to be adopted, and leaders had a goal
of “rich country and strong army” to compete with the foreigners.
The daimyo were forced to centralize their lands in exchange for a generous fee and
initially the right to rule their lands (soon after, the government removed this right and
turned all the domains into prefectures with governors appointed by the Meiji
Implementing the Charter Oath
The annual payment of stipends to the samurai had financially weakened the government,
so the government offered an exchange of stipend for interest-bearing bonds (which few
took). In 1876, the government forced the samurai to exchange their stipends for bonds.
Meiji-era policy was guided by the slogan of “rich country, strong army”, and leaders
began to depart from the Tokugawa-era position against commerce.
In order to pay for mandatory public education, conscription, and state-sponsored
developments, the government created a nationwide system of taxes on agricultural
property. Ito Hirobumi and others went on a tour of Europe and America known as the Iwakura
Mission, with the two goals of renegotiating the treaties and learning how to modernize
institutions (the former goal proved unsuccessful). These officials sought to complete
reforms before pursuing an aggressive foreign policy (imperialism).
Reform and Religion
Ito Hirobumi based Japan's constitution on the Prussian Constitution, and it was
presented as a gift from the emperor to the people, thereby confirming his sovereignty.
The Constitution (1889) established a Diet, and aristocrats received European-style titles
for their seats. The Diet had the power of the purse; they passed the annual budget.
State Shinto was a different and nationalized version of traditional Shinto, accompanied
with the Imperial Rescript on Education (1890). The Imperial Rescript on Education
was read to school children on special occasions and placed in a shrine in each school.
Japan in the Late 19th Century World
After numerous countries had pressured open trade with Korea, Japan f