Chapter 8: Great Empire of Japan with unified Emperor and the public

When speaking about Japan’s history, one can say that the Emperor was an existence who transcended secular strife and unified the commoners.  The Meiji Restoration was a peaceful revolution-a blood-less revolution-often regarded as a miracle in world history.  There are various theories as to why such a historical miracle was possible, but the existence of traditional culture of reverence and respect to the Emperor played a major role.  Marxian historical analysis will define the historical progression as follows; human society begins in a communal state; followed by ancient slave state; followed by feudalism; followed by modern capitalism; progress into communism. Furthermore, what propels a society to the next higher level is the ‘class struggle’, ‘revolution’, and more destructive the revolution is to the previous regime the better.  But, the Meiji Restoration could not simply be explained by such a Marxian historical perspective. (p. 243)

The Shogunate Era (Bakufu)  began in 1192 AD, but until the end of Edo Era (1868) the Shogunate was an institution under Imperial Throne that was never a confrontational or threatening existence. Even during the Warring States Period (1467-1615)  not one of Daimyos of the warring powers ever attempted to usurp the throne of the Emperor, but remained loyal to the Imperial Throne. (P.244)

Acknowledging the imminent international threat from Western colonizing powers and Japan’s inability to defend it self,,  the final Tokugawa Bakufu Shogunate  the “Taisei Hou Kan”, or “The Return of Governance” (1867) was executed to return the governing powers back to the Imperial Throne.  (p.245)

The order of the “Taisei Hou kan” was executed by the 15th Shogunate Tokugawa Yoshinobu.  He called to an order major clan daimyos to attain their support and presented to a decree document stating to the Imperial Throne the letter, which stated the apology for the failures of the Bakufu , and stated in order to counter the threats of the Western nations, the governance of Japan will be restored back to the Emperor.  Thus ended the feudal order of Tokugawa Bakufu and began the new Meiji Era, a new order of parliamentary monarchy under Meiji Emperor.   (p. 245)

World historians have for more than a century and a half wondered about one questions: Why and how did Meiji Restoration, the most historical reform in Japan since the Taiko Reform in 645 AD, succeed?  It was a political reform never seen in the history of mankind, which was not imposed by an outside pressure, but totally internally generated.  A cultural evolution that took Europe 500 years to accomplish was accomplished in Japan, from feudal middle ages to modern society, in just one step is an amazing achievement. The Meiji Restoration was just not a restoration of national governance back to parliamentary monarchy, but a major cultural revolution equivalent to French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution of England, Renaissance.(p. 246)

Takeo Kuwabara in his book “Meiji Restoration and the Modernization: What created the Modern Japan” the following 11 reasons for the success of the Meiji Restoration and ensuing modernization: 1) Geographical advantages as an island nation,  2)Being an independent nation, 3)Stable society of homogenous race, 4)Well developed feudal society, 5)250 years of peace and stability during the isolation, 6)Well developed education system, 7)High level of national unity, 8)No philosophical grounding , 9)Flexible society, 10)Lack of powerful institutionalize  religion, 11)Elimination of the class system.   These are indispensable factors to a modernization of a nation.  Edwin Reischauer also point to the “Filial Governance of the Emperor”, the quint-essential philosophical foundation of the Meiji Restoration, an alluring rallying cause which was easily understood by every citizen.  In the path of modernization often nations must go through the complex and difficult process of becoming a republic, a democracy, a socialist society, a communist society, but in case of Japan it just re-instated a familiar monarchy from the past, and it was all that was needed. (p. 246)

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