Meiji Japan

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Information about Meiji Japan

Published on March 6, 2014

Author: MrRoher


A Brief Look at Japan in the 1800s to 1900s

Do you remember?   Under the Tokugawa Emperor, the Japanese shoguns had chosen a policy of isolationism in the early 1600s. Foreigners were kicked out of Japan, Christian Japanese were persecuted, and Japanese were “prohibited” from leaving.

JAPAN’S CLOSED COUNTRY EDICT OF 1635 1. Japanese ships are strictly forbidden to leave for foreign countries. 2. No Japanese is permitted to go abroad. If there is anyone who attempts to do so secretly, he must be executed. 3. If any Japanese returns from overseas after residing there, he must be put to death. 4. If there is any place where the teachings of the [Catholic] priests is practiced, there must be a thorough investigation. 7. If there are any Barbarians who propagate the teachings of the priests, or otherwise commit crimes, they may be incarcerated in the prison. . . . 8. All incoming ships must be carefully searched for the followers of the priests. 10. Samurai are not permitted to purchase any goods originating from foreign ships directly from Chinese merchants in Nagasaki. 

However,   The Japanese leadership continued to “watch and learn” from the “hairy barbarians” of the West The Japanese economy flourished from silver exports to China.

Outside powers threatened Japan  After the defeat of the Chinese by the British (1830s) & a growing presence of European and U.S. warships (1850s) Japanese leaders “decided” to sign trade treaties and open Japan to outsiders.

Japan was now open to outside influences.

Tokugawa rulers were overthrown. . .  The threat from outsiders and a desire for change unified many provincial leaders who joined together & overthrew the Tokugawa rulers, and began the Meiji period (or Meiji Restoration)

Japan transformed itself into a major industrial and military power 1860s - 1900s

The Meiji Government  The emperor was the “figurehead” while power was held by landowners and businessmen in congress & in the military (oligarchy).

Meiji Japan adapts Western ideas  Japanese were sent on study tours of Europe. Europeans & Americans were hired to help transform Japan.  In Japan a new education system was set up

 Japanese selectively use Western ideas and styles while remaining politically, economically, & culturally independent

JAPAN transformed  Rapid industrialization took place (with a mix of government & private ownership).  Railroads were built, mines expanded, and urban areas became more “modern”

Meiji Japan transforms itself  Government built a modern army & navy



Japanese Imperialism 1860-1914

Japanese Imperialism  Japan gained control of Korea & Taiwan after defeating China.  Japan defeated Russia to take control of Manchuria (1905).

Which of the following statements best describes the main message of this cartoon? A. Russia was bigger than Japan B. Japan was defeating Russia in the struggle for control of parts of East Asia C. In WWI, Japan’s Navy was better than the Russian Navy D. France gave military support to Japan in its battles against Russia over territory in Asia

Comparative Practice ½ sheet of paper – write a thesis paragraph 1. Analyze the similarities and differences in Japanese and Chinese contacts with the West from 1800 to 1914. 2. Analyze the similarities and differences in Japanese and Ottoman contacts with the West from 1800 to 1914.

JAPAN~ Changes• New dynasty – Meiji Period began • From a Closed economy to Industrial Power • From Traditional to Modern – Culture, Economy, Military • Isolated nation-state to Imperial Power

CAUSES • Outside pressure • Japanese leadership decided to change – use the West as a model

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