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Transcript of Meiji Restoration
The Meiji restoration
Mutsuhito proclaimed emperor
Before the Meiji Constitution, Japan's emperor had only a representative function. The ruler was, in fact, the Shōgun
Emperor Mutsuhito, known as Emperor Meiji, ascended to the throne at the young age of 14 years. He continued his private studies while power was held by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The political unrest that followed the unequal treaties allowed Emperor Meiji to seize power
How did Japan deal with its Sovereign Debt?
Before the Revolution, Japan's workforce consisted of 85% peasants, 8% merchants and craftsmen, the elite class of the samurai, and a few dozen of daimyō warlords.
The Constitution of the Empire of Japan was the constitution in force from November 29, 1890 until May 2, 1947.
It consists of 76 articles in seven chapters:
Article 1. The Empire of Japan shall be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal.
Article 2. The Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by Imperial male descendants, according to the provisions of the Imperial House Law.
Article 3. The Emperor is sacred and inviolable.
Article 4. The Emperor is the head of the Empire, combining in Himself the rights of sovereignty, and exercises them, according to the provisions of the present Constitution.
Article 5. The Emperor exercises the legislative power with the consent of the Imperial Diet.
Article 6. The Emperor gives sanction to laws, and orders them to be promulgated and executed.
Article 7. The Emperor convokes the Imperial Diet, opens, closes, and prorogues it, and dissolves the House of Representatives.
Article 8. The Emperor, in consequence of an urgent necessity to maintain public safety or to avert public calamities, issues, when the Imperial Diet is not sitting, Imperial ordinances in the place of law.
(2) Such Imperial Ordinances are to be laid before the Imperial Diet at its next session, and when the Diet does not approve the said Ordinances, the Government shall declare them to be invalid for the future.
Article 9. The Emperor issues or causes to be issued, the Ordinances necessary for the carrying out of the laws, or for the maintenance of the public peace and order, and for the promotion of the welfare of the subjects. But no Ordinance shall in any way alter any of the existing laws.
Article 10. The Emperor determines the organization of the different branches of the administration, and salaries of all civil and military officers, and appoints and dismisses the same. Exceptions especially provided for in the present Constitution or in other laws, shall be in accordance with the respective provisions (bearing thereon).
Article 11. The Emperor has the supreme command of the Army and Navy.
Article 12. The Emperor determines the organization and peace standing of the Army and Navy.
Article 13. The Emperor declares war, makes peace, and concludes treaties.
Article 14. The Emperor declares a state of siege.
(2) The conditions and effects of a state of siege shall be determined by law.
Article 15. The Emperor confers titles of nobility, rank, orders and other marks of honor.
Article 16. The Emperor orders amnesty, pardon, commutation of punishments and rehabilitation.
Article 17. A Regency shall be instituted in conformity with the provisions of the Imperial House Law.
(2) The Regent shall exercise the powers appertaining to the Emperor in His name.
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF SUBJECTS
Article 18. The conditions necessary for being a Japanese subject shall be determined by law.
Article 19. Japanese subjects may, according to qualifications determined in laws or ordinances, be appointed to civil or military or any other public offices equally.
Article 20. Japanese subjects are amenable to service in the Army or Navy, according to the provisions of law.
Article 21. Japanese subjects are amenable to the duty of paying taxes, according to the provisions of law.
Article 22. Japanese subjects shall have the liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits of the law.
Article 23. No Japanese subject shall be arrested, detained, tried or punished, unless according to law.
Article 24. No Japanese subject shall be deprived of his right of being tried by the judges determined by law.
Article 25. Except in the cases provided for in the law, the house of no Japanese subject shall be entered or searched without his consent.
Article 26. Except in the cases mentioned in the law, the secrecy of the letters of every Japanese subject shall remain inviolate.
Article 27. The right of property of every Japanese subject shall remain inviolate.
(2) Measures necessary to be taken for the public benefit shall be any provided for by law.
Article 28. Japanese subjects shall, within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief.
Article 29. Japanese subjects shall, within the limits of law, enjoy the liberty of speech, writing, publication, public meetings and associations.
Article 30. Japanese subjects may present petitions, by observing the proper forms of respect, and by complying with the rules specially provided for the same.
Article 31. The provisions contained in the present Chapter shall not affect the exercises of the powers appertaining to the Emperor, in times of war or in cases of a national emergency.
Article 32. Each and every one of the provisions contained in the preceding Articles of the present Chapter, that are not in conflict with the laws or the rules and discipline of the Army and Navy, shall apply to the officers and men of the Army and of the Navy.
THE IMPERIAL DIET
Article 33. The Imperial Diet shall consist of two Houses, a House of Peers and a House of Representatives.
Article 34. The House of Peers shall, in accordance with the ordinance concerning the House of Peers, be composed of the members of the Imperial Family, of the orders of nobility, and of those who have been nominated thereto by the Emperor.
Article 35. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members elected by the people, according to the provisions of the law of Election.
Article 36. No one can at one and the same time be a Member of both Houses.
Article 37. Every law requires the consent of the Imperial Diet.
Article 38. Both Houses shall vote upon projects of law submitted to it by the Government, and may respectively initiate projects of law.
Article 39. A Bill, which has been rejected by either the one or the other of the two Houses, shall not be brought in again during the same session.
Article 40. Both Houses can make representations to the Government, as to laws or upon any other subject. When, however, such representations are not accepted, they cannot be made a second time during the same session.
Article 41. The Imperial Diet shall be convoked every year.
Article 42. A session of the Imperial Diet shall last during three months. In case of necessity, the duration of a session may be prolonged by the Imperial Order.
Article 43. When urgent necessity arises, an extraordinary session may be convoked in addition to the ordinary one.
(2) The duration of an extraordinary session shall be determined by Imperial Order.
Article 44. The opening, closing, prolongation of session and prorogation of the Imperial Diet, shall be effected simultaneously for both Houses.
(2) In case the House of Representatives has been ordered to dissolve, the House of Peers shall at the same time be prorogued.
Article 45. When the House of Representatives has been ordered to dissolve, Members shall be caused by Imperial Order to be newly elected, and the new House shall be convoked within five months from the day of dissolution.
Article 46. No debate can be opened and no vote can be taken in either House of the Imperial Diet, unless not less than one-third of the whole number of Members thereof is present.
Article 47. Votes shall be taken in both Houses by absolute majority. In the case of a tie vote, the President shall have the casting vote.
Article 48. The deliberations of both Houses shall be held in public. The deliberations may, however, upon demand of the Government or by resolution of the House, be held in secret sitting.
Article 49. Both Houses of the Imperial Diet may respectively present addresses to the Emperor.
Article 50. Both Houses may receive petitions presented by subjects.
Article 51. Both Houses may enact, besides what is provided for in the present Constitution and in the Law of the Houses, rules necessary for the management of their internal affairs.
Article 52. No Member of either House shall be held responsible outside the respective Houses, for any opinion uttered or for any vote given in the House. When, however, a Member himself has given publicity to his opinions by public speech, by documents in print or in writing, or by any other similar means, he shall, in the matter, be amenable to the general law.
Article 53. The Members of both Houses shall, during the session, be free from arrest, unless with the consent of the House, except in cases of flagrant delicts, or of offenses connected with a state of internal commotion or with a foreign trouble.
Article 54. The Ministers of State and the Delegates of the Government may, at any time, take seats and speak in either House.
THE MINISTERS OF STATE AND THE PRIVY COUNCIL
Article 55. The respective Ministers of State shall give their advice to the Emperor, and be responsible for it.
(2) All Laws, Imperial Ordinances, and Imperial Rescripts of whatever kind, that relate to the affairs of the state, require the countersignature of a Minister of State.
Article 56. The Privy Councillors shall, in accordance with the provisions for the organization of the Privy Council, deliberate upon important matters of State when they have been consulted by the Emperor.
Article 57. The Judicature shall be exercised by the Courts of Law according to law, in the name of the Emperor.
(2) The organization of the Courts of Law shall be determined by law.
Article 58. The judges shall be appointed from among those, who possess proper qualifications according to law.
(2) No judge shall be deprived of his position, unless by way of criminal sentence or disciplinary punishment.
(3) Rules for disciplinary punishment shall be determined by law.
Article 59. Trials and judgments of a Court shall be conducted publicly. When, however, there exists any fear, that such publicity may be prejudicial to peace and order, or to the maintenance of public morality, the public trial may be suspended by provisions of law or by the decision of the Court of Law.
Article 60. All matters that fall within the competency of a special Court, shall be specially provided for by law.
Article 61. No suit at law, which relates to rights alleged to have been infringed by the illegal measures of the administrative authorities, and which shall come within the competency of the Court of Administrative Litigation specially established by law, shall be taken cognizance of by Court of Law.
Article 62. The imposition of a new tax or the modification of the rates (of an existing one) shall be determined by law.
(2) However, all such administrative fees or other revenue having the nature of compensation shall not fall within the category of the above clause.
(3) The raising of national loans and the contracting of other liabilities to the charge of the National Treasury, except those that are provided in the Budget, shall require the consent of the Imperial Diet.
Article 63. The taxes levied at present shall, in so far as they are not remodelled by a new law, be collected according to the old system.
Article 64. The expenditure and revenue of the State require the consent of the Imperial Diet by means of an annual Budget.
(2) Any and all expenditures overpassing the appropriations set forth in the Titles and Paragraphs of the Budget, or that are not provided for in the Budget, shall subsequently require the approbation of the Imperial Diet.
Article 65. The Budget shall be first laid before the House of Representatives.
Article 66. The expenditures of the Imperial House shall be defrayed every year out of the National Treasury, according to the present fixed amount for the same, and shall not require the consent thereto of the Imperial Diet, except in case an increase thereof is found necessary.
Article 67. Those already fixed expenditures based by the Constitution upon the powers appertaining to the Emperor, and such expenditures as may have arisen by the effect of law, or that appertain to the legal obligations of the Government, shall be neither rejected nor reduced by the Imperial Diet, without the concurrence of the Government.
Article 68. In order to meet special requirements, the Government may ask the consent of the Imperial Diet to a certain amount as a Continuing Expenditure Fund, for a previously fixed number of years.
Article 69. In order to supply deficiencies, which are unavoidable, in the Budget, and to meet requirements unprovided for in the same, a Reserve Fund shall be provided in the Budget.
Article 70. When the Imperial Diet cannot be convoked, owing to the external or internal condition of the country, in case of urgent need for the maintenance of public safety, the Government may take all necessary financial measures, by means of an Imperial Ordinance.
(2) In the case mentioned in the preceding clause, the matter shall be submitted to the Imperial Diet at its next session, and its approbation shall be obtained thereto.
Article 71. When the Imperial Diet has not voted on the Budget, or when the Budget has not been brought into actual existence, the Government shall carry out the Budget of the preceding year.
Article 72. The final account of the expenditures and revenues of the State shall be verified and confirmed by the Board of Audit, and it shall be submitted by the Government to the Imperial Diet, together with the report of verification of the said board.
(2) The organization and competency of the Board of Audit shall of determined by law separately.
Article 73. When it has become necessary in future to amend the provisions of the present Constitution, a project to the effect shall be submitted to the Imperial Diet by Imperial Order.
(2) In the above case, neither House can open the debate, unless not less than two-thirds of the whole number of Members are present, and no amendment can be passed, unless a majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members present is obtained.
Article 74. No modification of the Imperial House Law shall be required to be submitted to the deliberation of the Imperial Diet.
(2) No provision of the present Constitution can be modified by the Imperial House Law.
Article 75. No modification can be introduced into the Constitution, or into the Imperial House Law, during the time of a Regency.
Article 76. Existing legal enactments, such as laws, regulations, Ordinances, or by whatever names they may be called, shall, so far as they do not conflict with the present Constitution, continue in force.
(2) All existing contracts or orders, that entail obligations upon the Government, and that are connected with expenditure, shall come within the scope of Article 67.
A first model of constitutional monarchy is established with this article.
The power of the emperor is subject to the Imperial Diet.
Article 8 consents ordinances in case of necessity and urgency, akin to Article 77 of the Italian Constitution (d.l.)
The Emperor detains executive power,
but little legislative power
Right to undergo a regular trial
Right of property
Ministers are advisers to the emperor
I. The Emperor (1-17)
II. Rights and Duties of Subjects (18-32)
III. The Imperial Diet (33-54)
IV. The Ministers of State and the Privy Council (55-56)
V. The Judicature (57-61)
VI. Finance (62-72)
VII. Supplementary Rules (73-76)
Before the Meiji Revolution, the Sakoku foreign policy prohibited any contact with foreigners: any immigrant or emigrant would be sentenced to death.
As the American admiral Matthew C. Perry arrived in Japan, he threatened the government and fired his cannons. He was eventually granted the permission to negotiate with the Japanese Empire. This was the beginning of a series of commercial and diplomatic relations that would change Japan's history
The Treaty of Amity and Commerce was militarly imposed from the USA to Japan. The most important points were:
Exchange of diplomatic agents
The opening to foreign trade of Kanagawa, Kobe, Nagasaki, Niigata, and Yokohama’s ports.
Ability of United States citizens to live and trade in those ports
Fixed low import-export duties
Right of missionary operations
When Tokugawa Yoshinobu succeeded his father as Shōgun, he initiated a series of reforms to strengthen the Bakufu and its military, helped by France.
Some feudal leaders, especially those of the domains of Satsuma and Chōshū were loyal to the emperor and despised the Shōgun's work. Despite their differences (Satsuma was moderated, while Chōshū had already taken some action), they formed the Sacchō Alliance against the Shōgun.
Satsuma and Chōshū joined the Emperor and started the Boshin War against the Bakufu.
By 1968 bakufu had officially ended. Emperor Meiji was the one and only sovereign of Japan.
Battle of Toba-Fushimi
On 27 January 1868, the Shōgun's forces attacked the Emperor's at Toba and Fushimi, near Kyōto.
Although Tokugawa's forces greatly outnumbered the Sacchō Alliance, their advanced weapons granted them the ability to win the war.
Fall of Osaka Castle
Fall of Edo
When Ōsaka castle fell, foreign nation signed an agreement where they would not provide military supplies anymore until the end of the conflict
As a result of the emperor's victory, many Daimyō who were loyal to the Shōgun joined the alliance
The retaliation was harsh: imperial forces besieged Ōsaka castle, an important foothold in western Japan.
After a few days, Tokugawa fled back to Edo, and his troops, without a leader, surrendered the castle without fighting
The next day, the Shōgun sent three ships to intercept the alliance's transport at Awa, winning the battle and destroying the imperial ship.
The Sacchō Alliance won battles at Kōshū-Katsunuma and Ueno, and attacked Edo castle, the center of Tokugawa's government.
It was eventually conquered. Edo was renamed Tokyo, and most of Japan accepted the Emperor's rule
Although they were helped by the French, the Coalition's cannons were greatly outdated, and Japan had begun to use the first Gatling guns, so the Emperor was able to conquer the north of Honshū and Hokkaidō (Ezo) with little difficulty.
Several domains in the north of Honshū refused to accept the Emperor's rule and formed an alliance to fight imperial troops.
However, the country was poor, the feudal leaders wanted their rights, and there was the need for a system of new laws.
The Meiji era began on 3 January 1868, and it brought a series of reforms that would lead to a change in Japan's laws policy that would bring a great state of prosperity and technologic innovation.
The main form of government is a monarchy,
with power detained by the emperor
The emperor is in charge of the army and war treaties
Japan is one of the most influent superpowers of the world. It produces top class technologic products.
If you have something electronic in your house, it is most likely invented and produced in south-east Asia, and chances are that it is from Japan.
When we look at this country, we see a highly developed industry, efficient infrastuctures, and tall skyscraper that define the views of cities like Tōkyō or Kyōto.
However, 150 years ago, it was an underdeveloped country, which secluded itself from the outside world.
It took an entire revolution to change its mentality and bring up its true potential
Towards the end of the Edo period (1603-1867), Japan's feudal system was in crisis: peasant and Samurai revolts were plaguing the country. For the first time, foreign powers were threatening its borders, moreover, western technology was far too overwhelming, and, because of the Sakoku foreign policy, Japan would not have stopped them.
There were some theorists which wanted to open the country's borders, such as
Seishisai (who supported nationalistic and xenophobic policies, but was aware of its country's external and internal weakness), but they were either not listened to or exiliated.
The bakufu's economic policy did not succeed in improving the country's economy.
Although the territory was fractioned between the daimyo, there were some common aspects which helped in establishing a common front
Chōshū, which improved agriculture, military power, and imported western equipments
Satsuma, which relied on commercial activities
Some daimyo tried to implement locally some reforms with little success, such as
Following Russia's invasion attempts, Japan had to choose between becoming a prominent country in the world's economy, or be doomed to become a colony of western superpowers
Admiral Perry and the Inequal treaties
Mutsuhito and Yoshinobu
The Boshin War
This treaty was taken by Japan as a powerful warning about how underdeveloped the country was. One of the main reasons and objectives behind the Meiji Restoration was to abolish these treaties, which produced effects until 1889
The most important point in the Emperor's reforms was the abolishment of the Shōgun's power, restoring the Emperor's authority and the strengthening of the State's military and politics.
A substantial centralization was made to strengthen the Emperor's power. The provinces' governor were loyal to the emperor.
The Council of State, Daijōkan, had executive powers and was formed in 1869 by the Right Chamber and the Left Chamber, as well as a legislative body.
The caste system, which forced people not to change their occupation, was abolished
The Meiji Government promulgated a series of laws to solve the problem of the State's underdevelopment:
In 1871 the daimyō's lands were taken by the state in exchange for an allowance.
The feuds were removed, and they were replaced with a provincial system, controlled by governors nominated by the Emperor.
Creation of local administrative offices hired many ex- samurai, who were granted retirement funds.
In 1873, Ōkubo Toshimichi, a samurai from Satsuma, was appointed as Interior Minister, which had ample powers over administration and provincial governors
The Daijōkan was de facto an oligarchy, exerted by a small number of people from the Court and the most important provinces
The limitation of the legislative power allowed to produce quickly a series of reforms regarding the economy.
Daimyō and samurai were removed of their nobiliary titles, and they entered the upper class.
Low grade samurai, farmers, artisans and merchants formed the lower class, and gained the right to have a surname, marry people of other statuses, and to buy and sell land
In 1872, every plot of land was registered, including its owner and its value, allowing an easier taxation.
The tax was set at 3% of the land's value, and, for the first time, it was paid with money, not in rice.
The previous taxation system depended on the land's annual harvest, while this system depended only on the registered value of the land.
This tax didn't affect most of the farmers, but those who owned only a small parcel of land were forced to sell their land, because the tax amounted at 25~30% of their harvest.
Land taxation formed 80% of the State's revenue for the first 10 years of the Meiji era.
By 1970, only a small part of the population was employed in industries.
A complex railroad network was built. In 1872, there were 29 km of railroads; in 1880, there were 122 km.
The government created many state industries, introducing western technologies, which served as reference models for private enterprises.
The most important industries were:
Textile sector (wool, silk, cotton)
Construction industry (cement plants, brickyards, glassmakers
Metalworking and mechanical industry
The whole country was connected to a telegraph line. The postal system worked efficiently controlled by the State.
The new taxation allowed the government to invest in infrastucture building.
The first banks were created, and they printed the Country's official currency.
The Restoration started because of the unequal treaties, so the main priority was to revise them.
Between 1971 and 1973, a diplomatic expedition, which included the interior minister Ōkubo Toshimichi. The main objectives were:
Revising the unequal treaties
Gain western knowledge regarding science, economics, political institution and culture
The expedition succeeded in obtaining new technologies, but the treaties could not be modified until 1989.
After the Restoration, Japan tried by all means to import Western culture and technologies, however, before World War I, a phase where Japanese ideals, concepts and solutions took effect.
Taxes and payments were made in rice, and the daimyō printed their own paper money, so there was no stability of currency.
During the revolution, the government had to borrow over 20 million yen from Ōsaka and Tōkyō merchants for the war. The daimyō's debt, which was taken by the State, amounted to 50 million yen, and by 1871, the debt reached 74 million, while the government's revenue was of 50 million.
In 1871, the feudal daimyō system was dissolved, and most of the lands owned by them was transferred to the peasants and to the emperor. In exchange, the government assumed their debt.
The finance and interior minister, Ōkubo Toshimichi, reorganized all the debt into government bonds. The bond holders, who were mostly merchants, ex-daimyō and samurai, were forced to form private-public banks, where the capital would be formed by the bonds
In return, they were granted the privilege to print official paper bank notes, greatly multiplying the amount of productive credit available for Japan’s industrial development. By 1880, there were over 150 national banks with 34 million yen in national bank notes in circulation.
R. Caroli, F. Gatti (2004).
Storia del Giappone