JAPAN BEFORE REVOLUTION
Its political system was very similar to European feudalism, the
emperor (that like the absolute monarchy was believed descended
from the gods) had no real power, but depended on the daimyo
(feudal lord) most important. This was titled "Shogun", which is
the highest rank a daimyo could get. So the political regime was
called Shogunate. However, until 1853 Japan had remained
isolated from the rest of the economic and political world (except
for China and the Netherlands). On this date came a U.S. Navy
fleet which intended to demand a trade agreement.
This is also known as
(arrival of the black
Not having an armed
fleet to face, Japan had
to accept the treaty,
showing how weak
was the country.
The military government that was established in
Japan between the late twelfth century to the
The shogun ("Army Commander") was a military
rank and historical title that gave the Emperor.
The shogun was the person who led the
There were three shogunates:
Last Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1867)
Between 1867 and 1912 the Meiji era takes place:
a new Japan develops, more open-minded, but
keeping its essential traditions.
The Revolution has a unique feature: a part of the
aristocracy was who saw to change and renounce
their privileges necessary. Therefore, they were
divided into two camps, the Ishin Shishi and
supporters of the shogunate. Landowners (daimyo)
who were against the shogunate led the Ishin
shishi. Supporters of the shogunate had different
forces to face these revolutionaries and the
struggles were violent.
For 1867 the revolutionary movement had achieved
a breakthrough and the Emperor Meiji (which had
no real power) dictated the order dissolving the
bakufu (shogunate). But shogun Tokugawa
Yoshinobu refused to leave power and in 1868 five
more battles, called the Boshin Wars, resulted in
the surrender of the shogunate .
the leader of the
MUTSU-HITO: FROM TOP
On the death of Emperor Komei in 1867, the new
Emperor Mutsu-hito chose the name Meiji
(Government of Light) to designate his reign. The
principles of government were to restore the
authority of the Emperor and Westernization, ie, the
end of the feudal era and the conversion of Japan in
the first non-Western country that developed the
techniques of the First Industrial Revolution.
Mutsu-hito installed in Tokyo after weaken the
shogun and reaffirm the Mikado (Emperor
Authority). He managed changes, which produced a
revolution from above combining tradition and
A religious change was the recover of Shinto
(native religion of Japan, which worships spirits of
nature), which included ancestor worship, exaltation
of the Emperor and allowed to adopt liberal
institutions and assimilating western techniques.
To do this, it was promoted the study in universities
in Europe and the U.S., to take the best of each
place: the educational structure and organization of
the German army, the British parliamentary
structure and marine engineering, and the French
reform of the army and penal code.
REFORMS IN POLITICS AND
The political and institutional reform is based on
the formation of a Consultative Assembly, the
proclamation of the Jury Code of Five Articles by
Emperor and the creation of the first structure of
the Meiji government, Seitaisho, which mixed
traditional forms of bureaucracy and Western
forms of representation with separation of
With the creation in 1873 of the Ministry of
Interior, the new governors are appointed from
Tokyo and fully control of local administration is
established. To complete the measures it was
created a unified and conscript army.
Between 1870-1880 social reforms
were made, removing the privileges
of class, giving legal equality and
implementing penal codes similar to
Western dress is used in official
ceremonies, meat is consumed, the
Gregorian calendar is implanted and
compulsory education is created.
ECONOMIC REFORMS Economic reforms included the reorganization
of monetary circulation in a decimal system,
the yen, as the new currency. Now the
legislature controls spending, a register is made
and the sale of land is allowed.
Land reform is approved (1873), with more
social than economic sense: taxes must be paid
by the peasant, not by the village; based on
land, not on harvests; and they should be given
directly to the state -not to the daimyo-, and
were paid in cash, not in kind.
• The creation of the Ministry of Industry
(1870) supposed capitalist - industrial takeoff.
Government directions were the development
of a consumer textile industry based on cotton
and silk; development of strategic industries -
weapons and arsenals-; transport development,
giving priority to maritime;
development of heavy industries
(coal, gold and silver mines and
construction); and colonization
of Hokkaido (second largest
island of Japan, north of the