The structure of Japanese government was radically altered by the Meiji Restoration. It is termed "Restoration" because the Emperor was reestablished as head of state instead of a shogun, although it was more a revolution. The capital was moved to Edo from Kyoto, and Edo was renamed Tokyo. The name change was indicative of the changes in the government and country at large, as both "Tokyo" and "Kyoto" mean "city-city," and this stressed the importance of the relocation and the gathering of power into the hands of a new government.
The new government was intended to be one that would allow equality for all citizens, and an attempt to modernize Japan and bring it to equality with the Great Powers of the Western world. The diet was created, an elected legislature. Universal compulsory education was instituted, with all students attending one type of school instead of the samurai children attending different schools from the children of merchants and peasants. Although these were great changes, they kept the essence of Japanese culture. The schools, for instance, taught "right-living" and the Japanese values of duty to the Emperor, country and family as well as modern academics.
While the education system was modeled after French and German schools, the government was an amalgam of British, American and traditional Japanese ideals. A constitution was proclaimed in 1889, which established the legislature and left the Empreror as head of the government, the military and of course the state religion of Shinto. The Navy was modeled after the British system, the Army after the Germans.
Not content to bring experts on modern technologies to Japan, the Japanese reformers sent their own people to foreign countries to study, so that Japan would have their own capabilities to modernize industry. The aristocratic families which had helped the Emperor overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate, of course, held the real reins of power, but the Emperor Meiji was farsighted enough to go along with their reforms, and also to guide them in many real ways. He used them not only to overthrow the shogunate and to reform the country, but to reestablish his family as politically important rather than the figureheads they had been under the Tokugawas. The Emperors had not ruled directly for many centuries, and they still would not, but after Meiji they had more than purely symbolic power.