Quick Facts : The main features of Meiji modernization and westernization

After a long isolation, Sakoku, period ( 鎖国1623-1641), Japan had realized that Western countries were far ahead of the country in terms of technology and industry. In addition, the country’s economy and politics were deteriorated during the isolation period. Therefore, Japan felt the urge to catch up the West in order to prevent colonization by the Western countries. Realization of underdevelopment and crushed pride was the main driver of the Japan’s industialization in the Meiji period. Thus, Japan contentiously absorbed the Western systems and technology. It wanted to catch the West in every aspect. As a result, their national slogan became fukoku kyohei, meaning “Rich nation, strong army” which defined the Meiji Period. For this purpose, the government determined three main targets such as; Industrialization, creating a national constitution and construction of a parliment along with creating an area of influence. To this end, local autonomy was transformed into a centralized government and new land tax was replaced the old rice tax. In addition, Iwakura Mission had fulfilled. This mission’s aims were to revise the unequal treaties along with studying Western technology and systems. When Samurai Toshimichi Okuba went abroad as the Minister of Finance, he was enchanted by the high level of industrialization in the West and prompted industrialization. Therefore, Meiji Period is crucial in terms of Japan’s industial development.

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