Meiji Restoration: A Revolution

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Was the Meiji Restoration a revolution? By adapting the motto of the Meiji Restoration “wealthy country and strong arms,” the Meiji Restoration was successful instilling a sense of nationhood standing against the Western Powers and have transformed Japan into an economic juggernaut having one of the top economy in the world. The Meiji Restoration was a significant turning point in Japanese history because it led to revolutionary changes in Japan’s economic and political structures. But whether the Meiji Restoration is a revolution is still up for debate. The Meiji Restoration may not be a revolution in the traditional sense however it can’t be denied that the steps taken and changes made were revolutionary. Japan prior to the restoration was …show more content…

Traditionally the word revolution has always been viewed in a historical context, in that it defines revolution as a movement, often violent, to overthrow an old regime and effect complete change in the fundamental institutions of society. According to Andrew Gordon in his book “A Modern history of Japan,” the Meiji Restoration did take place through a process that differed from the European Revolutions of the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. In Europe, members of newly powerful classes, especially the urban bourgeoisie, challenged and sometimes overturned the privileges of aristocrats. However, in Japan it was the members of the elite of the old regime, the samurai, who led the attack on the Tokugawa. Historians describe it as a “revolution from above” or an “aristocratic revolution. In essence it was just a swap in power. Eisenstaedt shares the same views as both the European and the Meiji Restoration share important characteristics in terms of the outcomes. According to S.N. Eisenstaedt, “ Japanese Civilization: A Comparative view,” The circumstances that led to the decline of the Tokugawa and the start of the Meiji Restoration were indeed similar to those associated with the European and American revolutions, also the processes and causes of the rise of the Tokugawa regime resembled …show more content…

Prior to the Meiji Restoration the situation in Japan was not one that required an immediate transformation to better the country, they were prosperous despite the having hiccups with inefficient machinery. The discontent was mainly felt in the upper class of the society; the individual who, in theory, should feel less burden from society. Revolution according to Crane Brinton in his book entitled, “The Anatomy of Revolution,” has several stages the first stage is the preliminary which is the condition or state that causes the revolution such as a weak economy, which is the government’s inability to carry out its duties ineffectively, groups protesting against the government and conflicts between social classes. The second stage is the moderate regime which includes the financial breakdown, protest against the old order and the development of an alternative organization to the government. The third stage consists of a coup d’état and the outbreak of a civil war. In this stages extremist takes control of the prior government and initiates the reconstruction of the government with the use of force. The final stage is the recovery stage in which the revolution slows down and the situation return to quieter times. In the case of the Meiji Restoration it as failed to pass through all these stage to be a

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