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What Was the Meiji Period?



Meiji Period: The 44-year period of Japan's history from 1868 to 1912, when the country was under the rule of the great Emperor Mutsuhito, also called the Meiji Emperor.

The Meiji Era or Meiji Period marked the end of the Japanese system of feudalism; a faction of daimyo from Satsuma and Choshu in the far south of Japan united to overthrow the Tokugawa shogun and return political power to the Emperor. This revolution in Japan is called the Meiji Restoration.

The daimyo who brought the Meiji Emperor out from "behind the jeweled curtain" and into the political limelight probably did not anticipate all of the repercussions of their actions. For example, the Meiji Period saw the end of the samurai and their daimyo lords, and the establishment of a modern conscript army. It also marked the beginning of a period of rapid industrialization and modernization in Japan.

The word meiji literally means "bright" plus "pacify." It denotes the "enlightened peace" or "enlightened rule" of Japan under Emperor Mutsuhito's reign. In fact, although the Meiji Emperor did indeed pacify and unify Japan, it was the start of a half-century of expansion and imperialism in Japan, which conquered the Korean Peninsula, Formosa (Taiwan), the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), Manchuria, and then much of the rest of East Asia between 1910 and 1945.

Pronunciation: "mey-jee"

"The Meiji Period saw the first moves toward the democratization of government functions in Japan."

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