How successful was Japan in establishing a new style of economy, government and armed forces in the period of the Meiji Emperor (1868-1912)?

Essay by ultrachicHigh School, 11th gradeB+, May 2004

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The emperors under the Tokugawa (1603-1868) shogun lived under palace arrest in Kyoto while the Tokugawa themselves had their bakufu or military headquarters in Edo. The Emperor, a direct descendent of the Sun god appointed the shogun's who had the Mandate of Heaven to protect and rule over the Japanese. The Tokugawa shoguns ruled over Japan for nearly 250 years, in a somewhat peaceful reign. However following the expedition led by Commodore Matthew Perry and the subsequent Treaty of Kamagawa in 1854, and the Treaty of Shimoda in 1858, the Tokugawa shoguns had to rethink about the way they were ruling Japan. Both of these treaties were hugely unpopular in Japan. There was a lot of unrest in Japan with the general Japanese feeling discontented that they were so easily defeated at the hands of western barbarians. The independent barons, in particular the ones ruling the domains of Choshu, Satsuma and Tosa slowly broke away: moreover they owned about 80% of the total Japanese land, the Tokugawa only owned 20% directly.

The people went to the then emperor- Komei(1846-1867) who openly criticized the Tokugawa government for failing to deal properly and refused to give consent to the treaties signed with the barbarians. The bakufu had no choice but to over ride the Emperor. It paid thus, a heavy price. There were soon "loyalists" who supported the Emperor and opposed the Tokugawa. This was the beginning of a distinction between the Emperor and the Tokugawa; earlier on the Tokugawa represented the Emperor but now many people felt that the Emperor and the Tokugawa had different views so should be thought of as two different entities not just as one. They felt that the Tokugawa shogun could not really justify their title as "Barbarian Subduing General" with the Mandate of Heaven on...