Meiji period


Meiji period

(1868–1912) Period in Japanese history beginning with the enthronment of the Meiji emperor and ending with his death. It was a time of rapid modernization and westernization. Feudal domains were abolished and replaced with prefectures; daimyo and samurai were relieved of their special privileges. Not all samurai were happy with the changes, and there were numerous rebellions, notably that of Saigo Takamori. To secure a strong central government, a national army was formed and universal conscription was enacted. A new agricultural tax was instituted to finance the new government, and a decimal currency was introduced. Eager to encourage economic growth, the government aided the textile industry, established railways and shipping lines, and founded an ironworks. Education was also reformed, and compulsory coeducational elementary schools were introduced. By 1912 the goals of the reforming movement called the Meiji Restoration had been largely accomplished: the unequal treaties with Western powers had been revised, the country was developing well economically, and its military power had won the respect of the West. See also Charter Oath; Meiji Constitution.

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