Meiji revolution - Essay Example

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This paper answers: what were the major reforms enacted by the new Meiji government in the 1870s, who was Saigo Takamori, and why did he have a falling out with the rest of the oligarchy and What was the Iwakura Mission, and what did it accomplish…
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1. What were the major reforms enacted by the new Meiji government in the 1870s? The Meiji leaders had experienced both the corrupt Tokugawa feudalrule and the pressure of Western imperialism. They agreed that modernization was the only way to save the country. Towards this end they issued a “Five Articles Oath” or “Charter Oath”. In this they stated that 1) Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by public discussion. 2) All classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state. 3) The common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall each be allowed to pursue his own calling so that there may be no discontent. 4) Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of nature. 5) Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule. (Colin Barker Origins and Significance of the Meiji Restoration) 1
In 1871, the Meiji government announced the abolition of feudalism as a form of government. Clan governments and clan armies were ordered to dismiss. The Central Government divided Japan into 75 prefectures governed by centrally appointed officials. In 1873, it was announced that all landowners had to pay a yearly tax of 3% of the land value. Certificates of landownership were given to the farmers who paid taxes. They also provided for a new Council of State, legislative bodies, and systems of ranks for nobles and officials, limiting office tenure to four years, allowed public balloting, and ordered new local administrative rules. Shintoism, was adopted by the Meiji government as a national ideology. In 1871, a Ministry of Shinto Affairs was established.
In the early 1870s military reforms were carried out for the sake of defending Japan both against any foreign military threats and domestic rebellions. Thus "rich country and strong army" (fokoku kyohei) was the slogan of Meiji modernization. After the introduction of the Conscription Law in 1873 the national army began to take form. According to this law, all Japanese males over 23 years old were required to serve a 7-year military service in the regular army, with 4 more years in the reserve. The Meiji leaders further modernized the nation through government-sponsored telegraph cable links to all major Japanese cities and the Asian mainland and construction of railroads, shipyards, munitions factories, mines, textile manufacturing facilities, factories, and experimental agriculture stations.
2. Who was Saigo Takamori, and why did he have a falling out with the rest of the oligarchy?
Saigō Takamori was a Satsuma samurai; he was one of the most influential samurai’s in Japanese history and a key leader of the Meiji revolution. Saigo was a field marshal and an imperial councilor in the Meji Government; he retired from all of his government positions in protest. His falling out with the rest of the oligarchy was due to his insistence of going to war with the Koreans. He was enraged by Koreas refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Emperor Meiji as head of state of the Empire of Japan, and the insulting treatment meted out to Japanese envoys attempting to establish trade and diplomatic relations. However, the other Japanese leaders strongly opposed these plans, partly from budgetary considerations, and partly due to Japan’s military weakness.
3. What was the Iwakura Mission, and what did it accomplish?
The Iwakura Mission was a Japanese diplomatic journey around the world, initiated in 1871 by the oligarchs of the Meiji era. The mission was named after and headed by Iwakura Tomomi in the role of the ambassador, assisted by four vice-ambassadors. During the mission the members were impressed by modernization in America and Europe, which made them take initiative to modernize Japan later on.
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