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Prior to the arrival of Commodore Perry, Japan enjoyed peace and stability for 200 years under the Tokugawa Shogunate. However, Japanese society remained isolated and failed to integrate modern innovations from the industrial revolution, resulting in her being left behind in the feudal times. The Japanese proponents for progress began to show their dissatisfaction for the Tokugawa Shogunate, which represented stasis quo and its lack of willpower to implement the much needed changes. Similar events were unfolding in China, with inept handling of events resulting in Chinese losses of lives and territories, and many other concessions. The Japanese progressives fearing that Japan would share a similar fate, voiced in unison their grave concern for Japan’s future. These voices would have been correct, except for the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji Restoration was a period of re-evaluation by the Meiji generation, the Japanese’ narrow-minded goal of modernizing their military capacities fueled their industrialization. Their goal of modernization brought the cultivation of formerly undeveloped enterprises within the Japanese economy and led to the diversification of the formerly agrarian society. The Japanese government’s modus operandi allowed Japan to stand on the same political platform as the Western powers; without the major reforms equipped during the Meiji Restoration, Japan would have lacked the industrial competence to support her new modernized military.The arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry to Japan triggered the events that led to the Meiji Restoration. The appearance of Commodore Perry’s coal-fueled warships astounded the Japanese (Barr 68). Commodore Perry’s warships with an array of armament outclassed the Japanese armaments. The Japanese learned early on that they were far behind the technological advancements of the Western world. Commodore Perry’s abrupt arrival served as fuel for the modernization of Japan. The Japanese were forced to sign a commercial treaty with America, leading to more treaties being forced upon Japan with the other Western powers. These events rallied Japanese patriots to abandon regionalism and old feudal ways; the old institution was replaced with a centralized government allowing innovations for Japan’s modernization, the Meiji Restoration.   The Meiji Restoration had been translated in many ways; however, the most appropriate translation would be the Meiji Revolution. The Meiji Revolution gave the emperor effective control over Japan. In 1868, under Emperor Meiji, Japan was placed under imperial rule. The Meiji Revolution transformed the role and functionality of  the “emperor.”  Prior to 1868, emperors were little more than ceremonial figureheads utilized to legitimize a Shogun’s claim to rule Japan. The true practical power fell into the hands of the Shogunate, the most recent of which being the  Tokugawa Shogunate.      Prior to the Meiji Revolution, Japan was a feudal state divided amongst the ruling samurais known as daimyo. The Meiji Revolution allowed Japan to emerge as a modern nation able to effectively harmonize Western innovation with Japanese traditions. The Japanese word “Meiji”, which means “enlightened rule”, indicated the goal of the Meiji Revolution – the integration of the West’s modern advancements with Japanese traditions. The integration of new information and techniques, which was heavily influenced by Japanese history, bushido, a samurai’s moral code, combined with modern naval advancements, helped to create a unique code of ethics which removed surrendering as a military option. This pattern of unleashing the synergy of Japanese culture and new innovations remains the strength of the Japanese economy and the basis of Japanese culture even today. The Meiji Revolution set a stage for drastic reforms to help facilitate the growth of Japan, both militarily and economically. One crucial reform instituted during the Meiji Revolution was the abolishment of the previously mentioned feudal system (Williams 26). The Meiji Emperor declared all domains were to be returned to him.  This transformed all the domains into more than seventy prefectures. The following years saw the Meiji generation breaking down the former social castes that held the populace confined in history. The advantage of the destruction of the feudal system became evident during one pivotal reform within Japan’s military. The Japanese began to observe foreign military systems along with the nation’s domestic markets, to find models that were the most relevant to their circumstances. As previously mentioned, foreign models were studied for the modernization of the Japanese military. One major concern was national security.  The Japanese formed a small full-time army, a larger reserve and conscription. They hired foreign advisors and sent Japanese cadets to Europe and America to study in both military and naval schools. In 1873, a mandatory conscription was placed upon all males between the ages of 21 to 50. Ancient Japanese laws placed emphasis on the superiority of the samurai-class, such as their right to carry weapons; the conscription gave both peasants and samurai equal rights within the army ranks. The conscription and the seemingly arbitrary treatment of the samurai-class led to rebellions, the most famous being the Satsuma Rebellion. The rebellion provided a real-world example of the collision between the outdated feudalism and modernity.  The new Imperial Japanese Army modeled after Western armies quickly subdued the rebels using outdated feudal war tactics. The Satsuma rebellion and other failed rebellions further reinforced the idea that there was no future for feudalism in JapanIn 1873, a strand of crucial economic and land-based reforms took place due to the Meiji Revolution. The Japanese government evaluated farming lands and fixed prices for future transactions that involved the exchanging of lands and taxations (Williams 27). The owner of the land had to pay three percent of the land’s value annually, leading to a stable flow of tax revenue for the government. The revenue solidified Japanese infrastructure and the creation of new markets within their economy. Japan built new industries to help fuel their economy, such as mills and smelters.  These industries would later be sold to independent entrepreneurs, who used Western technologies to produce items sold in the international market. One example is coal production.  In 1875, Japan produced 0.6 tonnes.  Then in 1905, Japan was producing 13 tonnes. The very coal they began utilizing allowed the growth of their merchant fleets, increasing by over 700 steamships between the years 1873 to 1904. The growth of the Japanese economy was propelled by the forceful economic reforms presented by the Japanese government. The Japanese adopted an economy based on the British and American model, the fuel for this economy was the aggressive entrepreneurs who also helped to advance Japan and her society.  Educational improvements were installed by the Japanese government to advance their people’s level of learning. The government believed that the Japanese people had to be educated in order to maintain the current efforts for national improvement. What resulted was an ‘explosion’ of learning, 50 percent of males and 15 percent of females received a formal education (Kimura 83). Japan’s painstaking changes allowed them to become the first literate populace in Asia. The building of technical and university schools created a surge of capable military and industrial minds (Reischauer 128). To the Japanese government, education was a way to train competent citizens who would help build and strengthen Japanese society. The Japanese government used educational reforms to recruit capable and gifted minds from not only the elite, but from the lower levels in society. To entice children from homes that could not afford education, military academies and military colleges were free to attend (Kimura 84). Schools taught the children that every single individual came from a proud background; to replicate this during the Tokugawa Shogunate would have been impossible. The destruction of the confining social caste gave the ability for the younger generation to elevate their stature in society, an unthinkable act during the past regime. Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, a small number of schools taught both Western and Eastern ideologies, whetting the Japanese pallet for education that allowed for the success of the education reforms. The education system gave the Japanese government an opportunity to model a totalitarian educational system. The government used education as a tool to teach their young minds political views suited for the times, their political indoctrination was decades ahead of Western countries such as Germany (Reischauer 128). The education reforms instituted by the Japanese government during the Meiji Revolution set the foundation for Japan’s future. In the future, Japan would rely on schools to cultivate future soldiers, all of whom believed in the same ideological causes. Without the reforms in Japanese education, their industrialization and modernization would have been profoundly slower; the initial premise behind heightening Japanese compulsory education was to nurture citizens who would assist participate in stimulating the Japanese economy. The Japanese educational system allowed for a constant supply of Japanese citizens who learned practical skills – first male citizens served in the military, then in the development of Japanese infrastructure.The threat that the Western powers posed to Japan spurred the voices who led Japan into the Meiji Revolution. The Meiji Revolution allowed the Japanese to strengthen their presence in international affairs and to ultimately be a fellow peer to the Western powers. Without the installation of regular taxes that paid for the building of schools and other commodities that stimulated the Japanese economy, Japan would have lacked a stable flow of revenue to fund their industrialization. The improvement of education, allowed the Meiji Revolution to be a ‘restoration’, as the taxes allowed Japan to fund the enterprises and ventures that improved their entire country; the very minds who were cultivated within Japanese schools inherited those very ventures started by the Japanese government and kept these industries thriving within Japan. All the reforms mentioned led into the most important goal for the Japanese, the modernization of their army. The humiliation the Japanese faced from the West fueled the ideological flames to strengthen Japan. The Meiji Revolution changed the international view of Japan and the Japanese, thereby preventing Japan’s colonization by the West.

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