Meiji era Influence on Modern Japan

Essay by awkwarderikCollege, UndergraduateA-, December 2004

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Japan has seen a long history of reinvention in political, economical, and cultural foundations set by many distinct eras which held a great focus in the national development on some level. The beginnings of democracy in Japan were seen at the defeat of the Tokugawa shoguns, and the signing of an oath in 1868, by a new emperor, hurling the nation into an "enlightened era", called Meiji. Although the full enlightenment of the era is debatable, it did however set the stage for modern Japanese society in almost every aspect, but primarily its regard toward women, education and youth, and the continued respect for olden religions.

The Charter Oath worked as a sort of mission statement for Emperor Hirohito, with descriptions of the goals for the length of his rule and the modernization of Japan. A group of distinguished Shoguns which had defeated Tokugawa closely advised Hirohito, 15 at the time, to quickly act to advance and enrich Japanese culture.

These five innovative statements diminished the gap within the social class structure, and focused on the necessity for greater educational systems. Hundreds of Japanese were sent on an educational "world tour" to observe and experience developing western cultures in both their strong and weak points to mold Japan into a nation with an ability to grow into a world power. The detailed accounts informed by those abroad, led to the development of structured learning programs for children, and universities still devoted to the enhancement of Japanese education.

Standardized primary education was supplied, free of charge, to the public in 1904. At that time, the literacy rate jumped to roughly 90%, and is still extending beyond the current 98% of today (p.262, Morton, Japan: Its History and Culture). Japanese students still obtain...