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How Successful Was Japan In Establishing A New Style Of Economy, Government And Armed Forces In The Period Of The Meiji Emperor (1868 1912)?

2749 words - 11 pages

The emperors under the Tokugawa (1603-1868) shogun lived under palace arrest in Kyoto while the Tokugawa themselves had their bakufu or military headquarters in Edo. The Emperor, a direct descendent of the Sun god appointed the shogun's who had the Mandate of Heaven to protect and rule over the Japanese. The Tokugawa shoguns ruled over Japan for nearly 250 years, in a somewhat peaceful reign. However following the expedition led by Commodore Matthew Perry and the subsequent Treaty of Kamagawa in 1854, and the Treaty of Shimoda in 1858, the Tokugawa shoguns had to rethink about the way they were ruling Japan. Both of these treaties were hugely unpopular in Japan. There was a lot of unrest in Japan with the general Japanese feeling discontented that they were so easily defeated at the hands of western barbarians. The independent barons, in particular the ones ruling the domains of Choshu, Satsuma and Tosa slowly broke away: moreover they owned about 80% of the total Japanese land, the Tokugawa only owned 20% directly. The people went to the then emperor- Komei(1846-1867) who openly criticized the Tokugawa government for failing to deal properly and refused to give consent to the treaties signed with the barbarians. The bakufu had no choice but to over ride the Emperor. It paid thus, a heavy price. There were soon "loyalists" who supported the Emperor and opposed the Tokugawa. This was the beginning of a distinction between the Emperor and the Tokugawa; earlier on the Tokugawa represented the Emperor but now many people felt that the Emperor and the Tokugawa had different views so should be thought of as two different entities not just as one. They felt that the Tokugawa shogun could not really justify their title as "Barbarian Subduing General" with the Mandate of Heaven on their shoulders. Prices were rising, the emperor himself was insulted, foreigners were defiling into the sacred, imperial land, there was a typhoid epidemic- by the 1860's it was clear that the Tokugawa could no longer control the take charge of the government. However, the Tokugawa made one last attempt to win back favor and in 1865 started some reforms. They began military negotiations with the French and with their help destroyed Choshu where most of its dangerous critics lay. There was a huge uproar after this and all other barons joined hands to condemn this brutal treatment, Satsuma even allying with Choshu. The reform plans failed, the campaign against Choshu failed, the Tokugawa shogun failed. The Tokugawa Yoshinobu stepped down in 1867 accepting a Tosa proposal. He was effectively the last shogun to as from now the office of the shogun was abolished with the Emperor ruling assisted by advisers. The Emperor Mutsuhito was shifted from the ancient capital Kyoto to Edo which was now named Tokyo or Eastern capital.Emperor Mutsuhito was only 14 years old. He succeeded his father Emperor Komei in 1867. He was much needed to symbolize unity to the Japanese people. The radicals...

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