What were the Meiji reforms and how were they beneficial to Japan?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

**As per e-Notes policy, I will answer one of the questions that you asked. This should help you to complete the project portion. I would do the diary entry as a samurai because it changed their role in society significantly. Use the link I provided for further information on their role change.

The Meiji Restoration ended Japan's feudal period and was instrumental in the modernization of the island nation. It restored the emperor as an important symbolic force in the lives of the Japanese. This reformation came at a critical time in Asian history because the Western powers were establishing crippling influences in East Asia, particularly China. Also, Japan was not in control of its own economic and legal destiny in a number of ways due to Western influence.

The Meiji Restoration was responsible for modernizing Japan. The quick transition of Japan from a stagnant feudal society to an industrial-capitalist power was remarkable. This was made possible by a small group of ambitious, talented, and patriotic young men from the lower segment of the samurai class. They abolished the claims of feudal lords and began to industrialize Japan. Private ownership of manufacturing and land was to follow. They also eliminated local armies and created a national army. This national army was legitimized with a victory over a major European power in Russia.

The modernization of Japan that occurred as a result of the Meiji Restoration had the following positive effect for Japan:

  • The creation of a centralized bureaucratic government modernized the political situation of Japan and made it more efficient.
  • The establishment of an elected parliament in the new constitution empowered its citizens that now felt they had a greater stake in government.  Also important was merging the power of religion and the state in the name of the emperor.  
  • Improvement of the transportation infrastructure allowed for the growth of industry.  The government further encouraged industrial growth with subsidies.
  • Improvements in the education system of Japan with greater access to schooling for all classes.
  • Investment in a powerful national army and navy.

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