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Japan: Meiji Oligarchs and the constitution

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Information about Japan: Meiji Oligarchs and the constitution
Education

Published on March 4, 2014

Author: jubileecoast

Source: slideshare.net

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Suitable for IB DP History higher level, East Asia. Overview of the main personalities of the Meiji Restoration, and historiography on the Meiji Constitution
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+ The Genro and the Meiji Constitution notes from Beasley, Borthwick, Gluck, Najita, Tinios

+ The Meiji Emperor (1852 – 1912)  Mutsuhito  16 years old in 1868  Meiji is the title of the reign, it means “enlightened rule”

+ Growing up in Public 1872, 1873, 1888 Idea Taken from Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan

+ Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835 – 1901)  „The Teacher‟  Learned Dutch, then English  Travelled to Europe and the USA  Helped to set up Tokyo University (1877)  Wrote „Conditions in the West‟ and „An Encouragement of Learning‟ Fukuzawa Yukichi with Theodora Alice in San Francisco, 1860 (wikimedia commons)

Kido Takayoshi aka Kido Koin (1840 – 1900)  “The Pen”  In charge of government structures, reforms, and replacing the daimyo with prefectures and governors

+ Okubo Toshimichi (1830 – 1878)  “The Despot”  In charge of finance, and confiscating the assets of the old ruling class  He is known as “Japan‟s Bismarck” Okubo Toshimichi (wikimedia commons)

+ Saigo Takamori (1828 – 1877)  “The Sword”  In charge of the reorganization of the armed forces. Conscripts were to replace the samurai  Eventually Saigo disowned the reforms and led the Satsuma rebellion, 1877  Featured loosely, in “The Last Samurai”

+ Yamagata Aritomo (1838 – 1922)   He was impressed with the strength of the conscript armies in France and Germany  (wikimedia commons) Organized a volunteer army in war against the shogun Introduced the Conscription Ordinance, 1873, which replaced the samurai with a modern army

A masterpiece classical Japanese garden. Designed by Yamagata Aritomo

+ Matsukata Masayoshi (1835 – 1924)  Designed the land reforms of 1871  As finance minister 1881-1885 he implemented Matsukata Economics  Slashed government spending, increased taxes and sold government enterprises  Promoted private enterprise – helped founding of zaibatsu

+ Zaibatsu  Japanese business conglomerate  Characterised by family ownership, high degree of diversification  „political merchants‟ like Iwasaki Yataro (Mitsubishi) grew powerful businesses as a result of ties to the Meiji government. Artist Yoko Ono (wikimedia commons)

+ Ito Hirobumi (1841 – 1909)  Ito toured Europe in search of a suitable constitution for Japan  In 1889 the new constitution was announced – “Constitution Ito”  Ito was the first prime minister (1885 – 1888) and on three further occasions (between 1892 and 1901)  Ito was assassinated by a Korean nationalist in Harbin, China (1909)

Stepping Stones* to the Constitution + Gradual elevation of the emperor to „above the clouds‟ Consultative assemblies of governors in Tokyo (1875) Prefectural Assemblies (1878) The Imperial Promise(1881) The creation of a cabinet system (1885) Meiji Constitution (1889) * A key feature of Japanese garden design

+ Responses to the Meiji Constitution Your thoughts, please

+ Responses to the Meiji Constitution Frank Gibney (quoted in Pacific Century)  Constitution represents a forward step  Male suffrage based on property rights  Basic individual freedoms  Bicameral legislature  Many prerogatives left to Emperor  Military control in hands of Emperor Amazon.ca

+ Responses to the Meiji Constitution Tetsuo Najita Japan: The Intellectual Foundations of Modern Japanese Politics (pp 82 – 86)  The political settlement following the restoration was characterised by great tension and turmoil, resulting from a struggle between rival forces strongly committed to different modes of achieving national greatness  Meiji Constitution not aimed at a democratic ethic „but was an embodiment of the restorationist aspiration for a comprehensive and predictable legal system that would provide a final justification for the dissolution of the old order and the ushering in of a new and strong Japan‟ Picture: University of Chicago

+ Responses to the Meiji Constitution Tetsuo Najita Japan: The Intellectual Foundations of Modern Japanese Politics (pp 82 – 86)  Violence against the „new order‟ was unconstitutional  Loyalism now an unassailable virtue  „The privileges just mentioned…were not aimed at supporting the ideal of human liberty…but the prerogative of all to participate in the creation of a strong society‟ http://www.bibliovault.org/thumbs/978-0-226-56803-4frontcover.jpg

+ Responses to the Meiji Constitution Walter Beasley Cambridge History of Japan (pp 664 – 665)  Constitution contains no „social contract‟  Role of the Emperor formulated in terms of „mystical absolutism‟ and no constitutional procedure by which the Emperor could „act‟

+ Responses to the Meiji Constitution Carol Gluck Japan's Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period   http://ajw.asahi.com „…what is now called the Emperor system did not emerge in earnest until around 1890‟ The Oligarchs promised a constitution in 1881…then „spent much of the next nine years making…provisions to ensure that the beginning of parliamentary government would not mean the end of their bureaucratic dominance.‟

+ Responses to the Meiji Constitution Carol Gluck Japan's Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period  The Constitution only provided the legal framework… ‟It was the first general election and opening of the Diet in 1890 that marked political change‟  Ito: assert the authority of the sovereign against political parties. The Imperial House as the „axis of the nation‟ (1888)  Emperor‟s role „strictly ceremonial‟ Amazon.co.uk

+ Responses to the Meiji Constitution Andrew Gordon A Modern History of Japan (p.70)  Obligations: military service, school attendance, payment of taxes  Rights: suffrage for the few  Constitution would contain the opposition but an elected national assembly now existed…and may be a source of future change

+ Yamagata Aritomo, 1880 “It is true that the Meiji Restoration‟s achievements are outstanding…[but these gains] are nothing compared to the question of Japan‟s relationship with other countries, which in turn is tied to Japan‟s rise and fall”

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