Meiji Restoration Effects

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A Japanese watchman spots a black American gunship peaking over the horizon, steam billowing from its brand-new engine and its loaded cannons gleaming in the sunlight. On the bow stands Commodore Matthew Perry, and he is headed right for Edo. His fateful arrival in Japan in 1853 would force the nation to open up its doors to the world and agree to unfair treaties . In order not to succumb to this start to Western colonization in the near future and recognizing how far behind Western countries it was, Japan began an intense program of westernization, industrialization, and modernization known as the Meiji Restoration (1868 – 1905) . These reforms had three major effects: Japanese economic prosperity, political peace and stability in Japan, and…show more content…
In one of the largest reforms of the Meiji period, the government created and sold consumer industries to private investors and “encouraged [investment/business] through subsidies and other incentives” . By stimulating business activity in this way, Meiji reforms would inevitably lead to economic growth in Japan. In fact, in the fifty years after these very policies were implemented, Japan’s economy would advance so much that its import and export trades would be worth an astonishing 926,000,000 yen in 1907 . Additionally, from near the time when Meiji policies were implemented (1871) to later years in the Meiji era, commoners built 43% more genkan (luxurious samurai-style houses) in Kanazawa, a Japanese town . Because they could now afford more of these luxurious houses, commoners were becoming much wealthier during the Meiji period5, which indicates that the economy started greatly improving during this era. Therefore, the Meiji Restoration undoubtedly brought Japan economic prosperity by stimulating business activity, causing trade to boom, and leading to a wealthier…show more content…
During the Meiji Restoration, a national education system was instated that ensured Japanese students were taught of their “duty to their emperor,” which built support for the state . By supporting imperial power in this way, Meiji education policies allowed Japanese rulers to assert their control over Japan, politically stabilizing the nation. In addition, in the Charter Oath (1868), the Meiji government promises that “all classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state” . This Meiji reform made Japan more stable by promising to give all citizens a say in the government, which most likely took away the need for them to resort to violence to push political change. Finally, relinquishing samurai privilege and recruiting government officials based off of their abilities rather than heredity status helped move Japan, as articulated by Andrew Gordon, from “a system of fixed statuses to a more fluid, merit-based social order” . This merit-based order brought by Meiji policies allowed for more social mobility by giving any hard-working individual a chance to advance in society and improve their life, regardless of their class or background. This more equitable, fair system would make peasants less likely to rebel and thus produce a more peaceful Japan.

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