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Japan: Edo & Meiji

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Mitchell Silzer

on 22 June 2010

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Transcript of Japan: Edo & Meiji

Japan: Edo & Meiji Period What caused Japan to isolate
itself during the Edo Period? How did isolation lead to economic, political, and social changes during the Edo period?
Japanese architecture, education, culture, and
arts flourished during the Edo Period. The beginning of the Tokugawa era sparked 200 years of peace within Japan. Background Information For various reasons the country decided that it was best for their nation to isolate itself from the rest of the world. Here are some primary reasons... Social Studies Exit Project by Mitchell Silzer 8-07 Geographic Aspect Which Led to Isolation Many of Japan's neighboring countires (such as Russia and China) were powerhouses at that time. This meant that there was a strong influence from surrounding countries, and remaining isolated was the only way to avoid being overpowered. Japan was appealing to other countries in terms of resources and trade. This threatened Japan's independance (they had always believed themselves to be a self-sufficient nation, and did not want that to change). The Independant Systems Of the Edo Period Seemed to Suit the Country
The Daimyo (noble landowners) who had previously been at constant war were brought to peace by the authority of the Shogun. Shoguns such as Tokugawa Nobunaga, Tokugawa Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu were advancing the country through times of peace. Before the Edo Period Japan was openly trading with many countries. Tokugawa Ieyasu did not want Japan to be exposed to Western ideas. He was worried that European nations would seek to colonize Japan, and wanted to protect the nations sovereignty. Ships from other countries could only land at one location: Nagasaki. The Threat of Christianity In a nutshell..... The shogun and Bakufu chose to isolate Japan because they were worried that outside influences would cause them to lose power. For instance, during the Edo period, Japanese society was made up of distinguished and rigid social classes. At the same time, European countries were adopting ideas of individualism and allowing the individual to better his or her status. These new ideas would pose a threat to the absolute authority of the shogun if they were to be exposed in Japan. The Bakufu wished to maintain power, therefore passing many edicts that controlled the influence of foreigners, and strengthened their rule over Japan. The country isolated itself because the shogun believed that change would have a negative impact on the current systems of Edo Japan. Economic Changes The Tokugawa's decision to isolate Japan forbade business or trade with outside countries. Trade was now focussed on the exchange of goods between the coastal cities of Japan (cities such as Nagasaki, Kyoto, Osaka, etc.) Tokugawa Ieyasu named Edo (modern day Tokyo) as the capital of Japan. The city was in a perfect location to use the ocean for trade with Kyoto and Osaka. Merchants were encouraged to start large businesses in Edo. During times of isolation, Japan had to become a 100% self-sufficient nation. The Japanese people had to produce enough goods for all of Japan without relying on any other countries. Political Changes The government continued to be led by the shogun (military leader of the Bakufu). European Ships carrying Roman Catholic missionaries were sent to convert the Japanese to Christianity. Between 1548 and 1587 over 150,000 Japanese people were converted in the Nagasaki area. After the death of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Bakufu were concerned
about the spread of Christianity. Because of the fear of losing absolute control the shogun isolated Japan. The emperor remained a figurehead with little true authority. During isolation the shogun had to avoid internal problems such as uprisings of the daimyo. To avoid conflict, the bakufu set laws in place to keep the daimyo from uprising. The leadership of Japan focussed on military in order to protect the country from the threat of foreign countries. Social Changes Shogun (Bakufu) The Edo Hierarchy Samurai Farmers Artisans (craftsmen/tradespeople) Merchants (ditributors) Outcasts Non-Humans (Hinin) Notice that the outcasts and non-humans are spaced farther apart from the rest of the social classes. This is because the outcasts and non-humans were not considered to have any social status in Edo Japan. Japan's based its society on the feudal system. The social class structure was very rigid. People could not better their status. Social status was hereditary. The shogun enforced a rigid social structure in order to maintain control. The Bakufu legally formalized social classes to ensure
that they had control over all levels of society. The shogun's new policy of isolation impacted Japanese economic, political, and social systems in many ways. From an economic standpoint, isolation meant that there would be little to no trading with other nations. Japan would instead have to trade amongst themslves, using the ocean to connect primary port cities. In terms of political systems, the Bakufu formed a government that withheld peace within Japan by controlling the actions of the wealthy daimyo. Under the military power of the shogun, the sovereignty of an isolated Japan was well defended. In addition, the social structure of Japan was made more rigid by the shogun in order to maintain absolute control. The individual did not have an opportunity to better their status or rank. With the Bakufu's policy of isolation in effect, the more authority held over the country the better. Why was Japan motivated towards radical changes in their model of organization
during the Meiji Restoration and how did these changes affect Japan economically, politically,
and socially? A series of internal and external actions motivated Japan towards the changes of the Meiji Restoration. External Actions (Influence of outside countries) Internal Actions Russia wanted to expand its trade and take over new territories along the Pacific coast. The czar (Russian monarch) gave the Russian-American Company permission to trade with the Ainu, and claim new lands. European countries gained greater interest in Japan. The Dutch were the only foreigners allowed to set foot in Japan at that time. Many traders from the Dutch East India Company had lost all contact with the government of Holland. They decided to now send ships from other European countries, which flew Dutch flags and hid their bibles in order to gain entrance into Japan. When China was defeated in a war with Britain they lost all sovereignty over their seaports. The Chinese were forced to sign a treaty that gave the British special trading priviledges. By signing this treaty, China was seen as weak. The Shogun held absolute powere and did everything possible to prevent the daimyo from uprising. The Shogun banned all peasants that worked the land of their daimyo from having any weapons. The Daimyo were required to live every second year in Edo. Maintaining two homes prevented the daimyo from becoming too wealthy and powerful. The shogun also held some family members of the daimyo hostage. If the daimyo were to attempt an uprising, the hostages would be executed. The United States also gained interest in trading with Japan. Japan was on the trading route to China and the Americans wanted to establish a coal station to re-fuel their steamships at one of Japan's ports. Commodore Matthew Perry was responsible for the Bakufu's signing of Treaty of Kanasawa. Townsend Harris was later sent to have a more complex trade deal signed by the Bakufu. The Harris Treaty was eventually signed. These agreements were viewed as unequal treaties by many. The greater influence from outside countries led to a period of unrest within Japan. Two very different viewpoints began to develop within Japan. One group believed that its was impossible for Japan to remain isolated as trade with Western nations was inevitable. They wanted to make sure that Japan was not taken over by another country. They thought that the Japanese needed to learn about, and use Western technologies in order to become more powerful and keep their independance. The second group believed that Japan could remain isolated. They wanted to declare war on the Western countries and kill all foreigners that were currently in Japan. This group was completely opposed to foreign trade, and believed that the Western "barbarians" would undermine Japanese society by exposing the common people to new ideas and technologies. (This viewpoint represents the thoughts of Japanese traditionalists at the end of the Edo period - includes the Shogun and the Bakufu) To go along with the internal conflict of Japan, the mid-1800s brought many other hardships. Bad weather conditions caused poor crop production, and many peasants began to starve. People began questioning why they were forced to pay such high taxes. Many were starting to blame the unrest on the government, decreasing support for the Bakufu. It was time for drastic change. Overthrowing the Tokugawa - Rebirth of Imperial Power Many samurai began to support the emperor instead of the Bakufu. They began to feel more loyal to the imperial court than to the shogun and their daimyo. In 1867, samurai from Tosa convinced the emperor to resign and take a leading role in a new government. Before this could be established, military forces intervened, declaring Meiji as the emperor of Japan. Emperor Meiji The new Emperor abolished the office of the shogun and ordered the Tokugawa family to surrender their lands. The shogun responded with his own forces, but was defeated in the spring of 1869. The city of Edo surrendered and the emperor now held the highest position of authority once again. After the shogun's defeat, the emperor moved into the castle of the Tokugawa in Tokyo (previously Edo), signifying the end of the 250 year Edo period. Beginning a New Era: Political, Economic, and Social Changes in the Meiji Period. Adapting the Political Worldview The new Meiji leaders used the creation story to declare the emperor sacred and inviolable (not to be violated or injured) They used the young emperor as a symbol of national unity. Emperor Meiji signed the Charter Oath in 1868. The document effected society in many ways; it abolished the feudal system, increased social freedoms, and established an openness to new knowledge or technology. Japan wanted to become a modernized nation, and that influenced many decisions about the new government. Japan decided to borrow many aspects of the democratic model of government from Western nations. One of these aspects that they chose to use was the idea of elcted representatives. The new leaders of the Meiji government formed an oligarchy. The leaders decided to prepare for the establishment of a constituitional government, but not rush to implement it. They believed that having a constituitional government would give them the image of a strong, modernized nation. The oligarchy decided to establish a conservative government based on the German model. This government would have a strong cabinet, but limited powers of parliament. They called this government the Dajokan. Constituition was announced by the emperor in 1889. This granted Meiji many new powers, such as the power to control militray and foreign policy, and appoint his own cabinet members, judges, privy council members, etc. It also declared that parliament was now split into two groups: The Upper House and The Lower House. Military Japan also wanted to modernize their military. In doing this they adopted the German model for their army, and the British model for their navy. Emperor Meiji was a key military icon, and loyalty to the emperor was a key value emphasized in the training of soldiers. Adapting the Economy in Times of Change Social Adaptation The primary economic change during the Meiji Period was industrialization. In industrializing Japan, the nation would have to adopt the knowledge and technology of Western countries. Initially the government funded industries to jump-start the new economy. This took a lot of money, and within ten years, the government handed all industries over to private businesses. The government made many other decisions based on Western ideas to strengthen and modernize the economy. - railroads built connecting major islands
- roads and highways paved
- deep water harbours created at Yokohama and Kobe
- telegraph and telphones systems built
- new technologies and industries imported
- hundreds of foreigners sent to train Japanese
- ministry of banking set up for businesses During times of rapid political and economic change, Japan's social systems were also adapted to fit the modern worldview. Abolishing Feudal Society It was declared within the Charter oath that the feudal system would be eliminated at the beginning of the Meiji era. The rigid class structures of the Edo Period were dismantled. The Japanese people would now have greater social freedom to better their status, change occupations, and move around the country. How did the lives of people living in different classes change? Daimyo The court nobility and the daimyo became a single aristocratic class. The daimyo could no longer collect taxes from their domains. The government provided the Daimyo with a one time payment of money, and generous pensions. Any debt accumulated on the domains was taken care of by the government. They were invited to Tokyo to invest their capital in bussiness, with the help of the new national banks. Samurai Intially the samurai were still given allowances, but they were greatly reduced and eventually eliminated. Military conscription ended the importance and priviledge of the samurai. They were forbidden to wear their swords and eventually their traditional dress and hairstyles became out of fashion. The samurai were given permission to becom tradespeople, farmers, and business owners. Many were well educated and therefore became involved in business, government, and education. Commoners When the feudal system was abolished people with lower incomes had the opportunity to move to a position of higher pay. The ban on intermarriage between classes was lifted. Lowest classes became part of the commoner class. This was a positive move, however, everyone was now subject to the same taxing and legal obligations. Christians were allowed to practice their faith. Farmers Farmers now owned their own land and could grow the crops that they desired. They had to pay a 3% tax on the land. Some wealthier farmers gained prosperity over the years. Other tenant farmers lived in poverty because of poor crop production and taxation. Farmers had previously negotiated with the daimyo during times of famine and drought. Now they had to deal with impersonal and nflexible bureaucracy. For some farmers taxes rose and brought hardship. Many farmers were angry with the new wealth of the merchant class, and responded with a series of violent protests. These actions were easily handled by the new national army. Conclusion Contact with other nations was inevitable. The shogun and Bakufu were niave in believing that Japan could remain isolated while more and more Western nations were becoming interested in them. It was because of their beliefs that Japan was pressured into signing unequal treaties. In order for Japan to become a modernized nation they would have to improve their image as a powerful and competitive country. This meant that they would have to open their borders to new ideas and agreements, thereby taking in the knowledge neccessary to modernize their economy (industrialization) government (democracy, constituition), and social systems (abolishing the feudal system, social freedom). Japan was successful in doing this, and is now known as one of the most rapidly advancing countries in history. THE END
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