Japanese historical period: MEIJI (1868-1912)
28th July 2010
We are preparing a series of articles about each Japanese historical periods for those, who like Japanese antiquities. The second part is focused on Meiji period.
Meji period began with the act of formal returning of power to forteen-year emperor Mutsuhito ( posthumous name Meiji ). However power was practically in the hands of a small group of nobles and former samurais from Satsuma and Choshu domains. They had to assert their rights in Japan and also protect Japan’s independency towards Western powers. Therefore they resolutely began to make reforms, which should have approached Japan to the level, on which Western-European countries were at that time.
They began with the reform of state administration and all of feudatories were given back to emperor and consequently the former owners were appointed to governors. Later this system of feudatories was abolished and new administrative units – prefectures – were established. Thus governors became the civil officers, so if it was necessary, they could be withdrawn. So new administrative machinery was created.
Then with the slogan of „rich country and strong military“ in mind Japanese began to reform army. The most important change was that they implemented liability for service. To be able to compare themselves with Western countries they had to improve the level of education. Firstly the compulsory school attendance was introduced and then new primary schools, training colleges and even universities were established. Former class system was abolished and all inhabitants of Japan became, formally, equal. The key codes of law such as civil, criminal and commercial codes and in 1889 even constitution were published. As a model for new constitution the Prussian constitution had been chosen. This constitution counted on bicameral parliament, whereas the Upper House consisted of members of the imperial family, hereditary peerage appointed by the emperor, the Lower House members were elected directly by public. At first the right to vote was restricted by property qualification, age and was given only to men. Then in the constitution there was emphasized that the emperor had the right to exercise executive authority, command over Imperial Japanese Navy and could freely influence the work of Japanese Diet. Also the fact that the constitution was given to the public by emperor, not government was heavily stressed. However in fact his power was minimal and the real power was in the hands of newly established political parties.
Besides reforms mentioned above Japanese began to build new information system and they implemented telegraph to every prefecture. They also extended the traffic network and the first trains began to run in Japan soon. Development in this field helped to progress in the field of business and industry too. Because industry as such did not have any tradition in Japan before, reformers decided to prioritize manufacturing industry, which was connected with agriculture.
Opening of Japan naturally caused the change in the field of lifestyle as well. Japanese precipitately started to take over and imitate the Western culture. They adapted themselves not only to Western lifestyle, which suddenly became very quick, or dressing, when instead of kimono they started to wear clothes typical for Europe at that time, they also started to admire European art and book written in Europe, simply sometimes they made changes of their habits, which can seem really drastic to nowadays Europeans.
Then Japanese wanted to attract attention of Europeans thanks to showing their power or influence that they had over Eastern Asia. Firstly they annexed Ryukyu islands ( nowadays Okinawa ) and then Taiwan. Both of these territories had been under control of China, so the relationship between these two countries got worse and worse and the Chinese-Japanese war ( 1894-1895 ) was unavoidable. In this war Japanese won and managed to attract Western‘s attention to themselves ( before this victory European countries mostly considered China as their partner ). And when they defeated Russia ( 1904-1905 ) ten years later, Japan finally broke through as an international power. Consequently Japanese annexed Korea and thus confirmed their position in Eastern Asia.
Reischauer Edwin A.; Craig, Albert M., Dejiny Japonska, Lidove noviny, 2006, 476s. ISBN 80-7106391-6
Labus David; Japonsko, Strucna historie statu, Libri, 2009, 184s. ISBN 978-80-7277-426-5
Made in period Meidži We offer e.g.:
Dřevěná dekorace RAMA
Wooden decoration RAMA
Hibachi - heating device
Collection of Daruma Gods
Heating device HIBACHI
Censer No. 709
Wooden fish with kettle - hanging over the fire
Kettle KAMA and portable brazier FURO
Kettle KAMA and portable brazier FURO No.722
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