Edo, Meiji, and Taisho periods.

Essay by 87740High School, 10th grade March 2004

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The Edo period was 1600-1868. During this time Tokugawa Ieyasu who was a famous shogun reorganized the feudal system and put in place a military government. This happened in the city of Edo, which is known today as Tokyo.

Tokugawa Ieyasu considered the European power as a threat so he decided to make a closed-door policy. Anyone who tried to leave were killed when the returned to prevent any form of contamination. They only allowed the Dutch to trade with them and they were confined to a small island of Dejima. The Dutch could only have contact with merchants and prostitutes.

In this strict class structure the merchants, called chonin, were considered very low class but eventually became wealthy.

In 1853 United Stated Navy Commodore Mathew C. Perry arrived with his "black ships". He wanted to trade and soon other countries followed. The shogunate were losing support. They eventually surrendered power to the emperor Meiji in 1867.

The Meiji restoration began in 1868. They set out to make a modern country in a short amount of time. The military and industrial bases were improved and made stronger. Treaties were renegotiated with the west and finally a new constitution was adopted in 1889.

The government and zaibatsu firms borrowed technology from the west. Japan eventually took over Asia's market for manufacturers. They began importing raw materials and exporting finished products. Through careful financial/economic planning and stimulated by wars, Japan became a major industrial nation.

Emperor Taisho took over the throne after the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912. This became the beginning of the Taisho period

The Taisho period encountered political problems as well as the health of the new emperor. This caused the political powers to change from the old oligarchic clique of the elder statesmen to the democratic partied.