Government of Meiji Japan

The Government of Meiji Japan (明治政府 Meiji seifu) was the government that was formed by politicians of the Satsuma Domain and Chōshū Domain in the 1860s. The Meiji government was the early government of the Empire of Japan.

Politicians of the Meiji government were known as the Meiji oligarchy, who overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate.

Early developments

After the Meiji Restoration, the leaders of the samurai who overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate had no clear agenda or pre-developed plan on how to run Japan. They did have a number of things in common – , according to Andrew Gordon, “It was precisely their intermediate status and their insecure salaried position, coupled with their sense of frustrated ambition and entitlement to rule, that account for the revolutionary energy of the Meiji insurgents and their far-reaching program of reform”.[1] most were in their mid-40s, and most were from the four tozama domains of western Japan (Chōshū, Satsuma, Tosa and Hizen). Although from lower-ranked samurai families, they had risen to military leadership roles in their respective domains, and came from a Confucian-based educational background which stressed loyalty and service to society. Finally, most either had first-hand experience in travel overseas, or second-hand experience through contacts with foreign advisors in Japan. As a result, they knew of the military superiority of the western nations and of the need for Japan to unify, and to strengthen itself to avoid the colonial fate of its neighbors on the Asian continent.

However, immediately after the resignation of Tokugawa Yoshinobu in 1867, with no official centralized government, the country was a collection of largely semi-independent daimyōs controlled feudal domains, held together by the military strength of the Satchō Alliance, and by the prestige of the Imperial Court.

In early March 1868, with the outcome of the Boshin War still uncertain, the new Meiji government summoned delegates from all of the domains to Kyoto to establish a provisional consultative national assembly. In April 1868, the Charter Oath was promulgated, in which Emperor Meiji set out the broad general outlines for Japan's development and modernization.

Two months later, in June 1868, the Seitaisho was promulgated to establish the new administrative basis for the Meiji government. This administrative code was drafted by Fukuoka Takachika and Soejima Taneomi (both of whom had studied abroad and who had a liberal political outlook), and was a mixture of western concepts such as division of powers, and a revival of ancient structures of bureaucracy dating back to Nara period. A central governmental structure, or Daijōkan, was established.

The Daijōkan had seven departments:

  • Legislative (divided into an Upper Assembly of appointed bureaucrats, and a Lower Assembly of domain representatives)
  • Executive
  • Shinto
  • Finance
  • Military
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Civil Affairs

A separate Justice Ministry was established to create a form of separation of powers in imitation of the western countries.

The government instigated Fuhanken Sanchisei, dividing territory into urban prefectures or municipalities (fu) and rural prefectures (ken). Local government in Japan consisted of area confiscated from the Tokugawa, administered from the Department of Civil Affairs, and 273 semi-independent domains. Agents from the central government were sent to each of the domains to work towards administrative uniformity and conformation to the directives of the central government.

In early 1869, the national capital was transferred from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo (Eastern Capital).

Abolition of the domains

In March 1869, the central government led by Ōkubo Toshimichi of Satsuma felt strong enough to effect further centralization. After merging the armies of Satsuma and Chōshū into a combined force, Ōkubo and Kido Takayoshi convinced the daimyō of Satsuma, Chōshū, Hizen and Tosa to surrender their domains to the emperor. Other daimyō were forced to do the same, and all were reappointed as “governors” to their respective domains, which were now treated as sub-divisions of the central government.

In the spring of 1871, Ōkubo, Kido, Inoue Kaoru, Yamagata Aritomo, Saigō Takamori, Ōyama Iwao, Sanjō Sanetomi and Iwakura held a secret meeting during which it was decided to proceed with abolition of the han domains entirely. Later that year, all of the ex-daimyō were summoned to the Emperor, and he issued a decree converting the domains to prefectures headed by a bureaucratic appointee from the central government. The daimyō were generously pensioned off into retirement, and their castles became the local administrative centers for the central government. This decree resulted in 305 units of local administration, which were reduced to 72 prefectures and 3 municipalities by the end of the year through various mergers, so that by the end of 1871, Japan had become a fully centralized state. The transition was made gradually, so that there was no disruption to the lives of the common people, and no outbreaks of resistance or violence. The central government absorbed all of the debts and obligations of the domains, and many former officials in the domains found new employment with the central government.

In 1871, the central government supported the creation of consultative assembles at the lowest levels of government, at the town, village and county level. The membership of the prefectural assemblies was drawn from these local assemblies. As the local assemblies only had the power of debate, and not legislation, they provided an important safety valve, without the ability to challenge the authority of the central government.

Reorganization of the central government

While then domains were being abolished and local administrative boundaries were being moved around, in August 1869, the central government itself underwent some restructuring to reinforce centralized authority. The idea of division of powers was abandoned. The new government was based on a national assembly (which met only once), an appointive Council of Advisors (Sangi), and eight Ministries:

Decision-making in the government was restricted to a closed oligarchy of perhaps 20 individuals (from Satsuma, Chōshū, Tosa, Hizen and from the Imperial Court). The Home Ministry, as it appointed all prefectural governors, and controlled police apparatus was the most powerful ministry in the government, and it is noteworthy that Ōkubo left the Ministry of Finance to head the Home Ministry when it was established.

Events leading to Okuma's resignation

One of the pressures on the early Meiji government was the division between those members of the oligarchy who favored some form of representative government, based on overseas models, and the more conservative faction who favored centralized, authoritarian rule.

A major proponent of representative government was Itagaki Taisuke, a powerful leader of Tosa forces who had resigned from his Council of State position over the Korean affair in 1873. Itagaki sought peaceful rather than rebellious means to gain a voice in government. Such movements were called The Freedom and People's Rights Movement. He started a movement aimed at establishing a constitutional monarchy and a national assembly. Itagaki and others wrote the Tosa Memorial in 1874 criticizing the unbridled power of the oligarchy and calling for the immediate establishment of representative government. Dissatisfied with the pace of reform after having rejoined the Council of State in 1875, Itagaki organized his followers and other democratic proponents into the nationwide Aikokusha (Society of Patriots) to push for representative government in 1878. In 1881, in an action for which he is best known, Itagaki helped found the Jiyūtō (Liberal Party), which favored French political doctrines. In 1882 Ōkuma Shigenobu established the Rikken Kaishintō (Constitutional Progressive Party), which called for a British-style constitutional democracy. In response, government bureaucrats, local government officials, and other conservatives established the Rikken Teiseitō (Imperial Rule Party), a pro-government party, in 1882. Numerous political demonstrations followed, some of them violent, resulting in further government political restrictions. The restrictions hindered the political parties and led to divisiveness within and among them. The Jiyūtō, which had opposed the Kaishintō, was disbanded in 1884, and Ōkuma resigned as Kaishintō president.

Establishment of a national assembly

Government leaders, long preoccupied with violent threats to stability and the serious leadership split over the Korean affair, generally agreed that constitutional government should someday be established. Kido Takayoshi had favored a constitutional form of government since before 1874, and several proposals that provided for constitutional guarantees had been drafted. The oligarchy, however, while acknowledging the realities of political pressure, was determined to keep control. The Osaka Conference of 1875 resulted in the reorganization of government with an independent judiciary and an appointed Council of Elders tasked with reviewing proposals for a constitution. The emperor declared that "constitutional government shall be established in gradual stages" as he ordered the Genrōin to draft a constitution. In 1880, delegates from twenty-four prefectures held a national convention to establish the Kokkai Kisei Dōmei (League for Establishing a National Assembly).

Although the government was not opposed to parliamentary rule, confronted with the drive for "people's rights," it continued to try to control the political situation. New laws in 1875 prohibited press criticism of the government or discussion of national laws. The Public Assembly Law (1880) severely limited public gatherings by disallowing attendance by civil servants and requiring police permission for all meetings. Within the ruling circle, however, and despite the conservative approach of the leadership, Ōkuma continued as a lone advocate of British-style government, a government with political parties and a cabinet organized by the majority party, answerable to the national assembly. He called for elections to be held by 1882 and for a national assembly to be convened by 1883; in doing so, he precipitated a political crisis that ended with an 1881 imperial rescript declaring the establishment of a national assembly in 1890 and his dismissal from government.

Rejecting the British model, Iwakura Tomomi and other conservatives borrowed heavily from the Prussian constitutional system. Itō Hirobumi, one of the Meiji oligarchy and a Chōshū native long involved in government affairs, was charged with drafting Japan's constitution. He led a Constitutional Study Mission abroad in 1882, spending most of his time in Germany. He rejected the United States Constitution as "too liberal" and the British system as too unwieldy and having a parliament with too much control over the monarchy; the French and Spanish models were rejected as tending toward despotism.

Strengthening of state authority

On Itō's return, one of the first acts of the government was to establish the kazoku peerage system with new ranks for the nobility. Five hundred persons from the old court nobility, former daimyō, samurai and commoners who had provided valuable service to the government were organized in five ranks: prince, marquis, count, viscount, and baron.

Itō was put in charge of the new Bureau for Investigation of Constitutional Systems in 1884, and the Council of State was replaced in 1885 with a cabinet headed by Itō as prime minister. The positions of chancellor, minister of the left, and minister of the right, which had existed since the seventh century as advisory positions to the emperor, were all abolished. In their place, the Privy Council was established in 1888 to evaluate the forthcoming constitution and to advise the emperor. To further strengthen the authority of the state, the Supreme War Council was established under the leadership of Yamagata Aritomo a Chōshū native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Imperial Japanese Army and was to become the first constitutional Prime Minister. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials.

The Meiji Constitution

When finally granted by the Emperor as a sign of his sharing his authority and giving rights and liberties to his subjects, the 1889 Constitution of the Empire of Japan (the Meiji Constitution) provided for the Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai), composed of a House of Representatives and a House of Peers. The House of Representatives was popularly elected with a very limited franchise of male citizens who paid 15 yen in national taxes (about 1 percent of the population) being eligible candidates. The House of Peers was composed of nobility and imperial appointees. There was also the provision for the creation of a Cabinet composed of ministers of State directly responsible to the Emperor and independent of the legislature. Functionally, the Diet was able to approve government legislation and initiate laws, make representations to the government, and submit petitions to the Emperor.

Nevertheless, in spite of these institutional changes, sovereignty still resided in the Emperor on the basis of his divine ancestry. The new constitution specified a form of government that was still authoritarian in character, with the Emperor holding the ultimate power and only minimal concessions made to popular rights and parliamentary mechanisms. Party participation was recognized as part of the political process. The Meiji Constitution was to last as the fundamental law until 1947, when it was supplanted by Japan's current constitution.

Elections and political power

The first national election was held in 1890, and 300 members were elected to the lower house. Voting was restricted to males over twenty-five who paid income tax of minimally fifteen yen, a qualification to be lowered in 1900 and 1919 with universal male suffrage passed after much debate in 1925.[2] Women never obtained the franchise until after World War II when a new constitution was introduced.

The Jiyūtō and Kaishintō parties had been revived in anticipation of the election and together won more than half of the seats. The House of Representatives soon became the arena for disputes between the politicians and the government bureaucracy over large issues, such as the budget, the ambiguity of the constitution on the Diet's authority, and the desire of the Diet to interpret the "will of the Emperor" versus the oligarchy's position that the cabinet and administration should "transcend" all conflicting political forces. The main leverage the Diet had was in its approval or disapproval of the budget, and it successfully wielded its authority henceforth.

In the early years of constitutional government, the strengths and weaknesses of the Meiji Constitution were revealed. A small clique of Satsuma and Chōshū elite continued to rule Japan, becoming institutionalized as an extraconstitutional body of genrō (elder statesmen). Collectively, the genrō made decisions reserved for the Emperor, and the genrō, not the Emperor, controlled the government politically. Throughout the period, however, political problems were usually solved through compromise, and political parties gradually increased their power over the government and held an ever larger role in the political process as a result.

Political struggles

After the bitter political rivalries between the inception of the Diet in 1890 and 1894, when the nation was unified for the war effort against China, there followed five years of unity, unusual cooperation, and coalition cabinets. From 1900 to 1912, the Diet and the cabinet cooperated even more directly, with political parties playing larger roles. Throughout the entire period, the old Meiji oligarchy retained ultimate control but steadily yielded power to the opposition parties. The two major figures of the period were Yamagata Aritomo, whose long tenure (1868–1922) as a military and civil leader, including two terms as prime minister, was characterized by his intimidation of rivals and resistance to democratic procedures, and Itō Hirobumi, who was a compromiser and, although overruled by the genrō, wanted to establish a government party to control the House during his first term. When Itō returned as prime minister in 1898, he again pushed for a government party, but when Yamagata and others refused, Itō resigned. With no willing successor among the genrō, the Kenseitō (Constitutional Party) was invited to form a cabinet under the leadership of Ōkuma and Itagaki, a major achievement in the opposition parties' competition with the genrō. This success was short-lived: the Kenseitō split into two parties, the Kenseitō led by Itagaki and the Kensei Hontō (Real Constitutional Party) led by Ōkuma, and the cabinet ended after only four months. Yamagata then returned as prime minister with the backing of the military and the bureaucracy. Despite broad support of his views on limiting constitutional government, Yamagata formed an alliance with Kenseitō. Reforms of electoral laws, an expansion of the House to 369 members, and provisions for secret ballots won Diet support for Yamagata's budgets and tax increases. He continued to use imperial ordinances, however, to keep the parties from fully participating in the bureaucracy and to strengthen the already independent position of the military. When Yamagata failed to offer more compromises to the Kenseitō, the alliance ended in 1900, beginning a new phase of political development.

Itō becomes Prime Minister

Itō and his protégé, Saionji Kinmochi finally succeeded in forming a progovernment party—the Rikken Seiyūkai (Constitutional Association of Political Friendship) —in September 1900, and a month later Itō became prime minister of the first Seiyūkai cabinet. The Seiyūkai held the majority of seats in the House, but Yamagata's conservative allies had the greatest influence in the House of Peers, forcing Itō to seek imperial intervention. Tiring of political infighting, Itō resigned in 1901. Thereafter, the prime ministership alternated between Yamagata's protégé, Katsura Tarō and Saionji . The alternating of political power was an indication of the two sides' ability to cooperate and share power and helped foster the continued development of party politics.

End of the Meiji period

In 1911, Japan ended all unequal treaties. The Meiji period ended with the death of the Emperor Meiji in 1912 and the beginning of the Taishō period (1912–1926) as Crown Prince Yoshihito became the new emperor (Emperor Taishō). The end of the Meiji period was marked by huge government domestic and overseas investments and military programs, nearly exhausted credit, and a lack of foreign exchange to pay debts. But, the "Meiji regime" lasted until the end of the World War II in 1945.

The beginning of the Taishō period was marked by a political crisis that interrupted the earlier politics of compromise. When Prime Minister Saionji attempted to cut the military budget, the army minister resigned, bringing down the Seiyūkai cabinet. Both Yamagata and Saionji refused to resume office, and the genrō were unable to find a solution. Public outrage over the military manipulation of the cabinet and the recall of Katsura for a third term led to still more demands for an end to genrō politics. Despite old guard opposition, the conservative forces formed a party of their own in 1913, the Rikken Dōshikai (Constitutional Association of Allies), a party that won a majority in the House over the Seiyūkai in late 1914.


  1. ^ Gordon, Andrew (2014). A modern history of Japan: from Tokugawa times to the present. Oxford University Press. p. 62.
  2. ^ Griffin, Edward G.; "The Universal Suffrage Issue in Japanese Politics, 1918–25"; The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2 (February 1972), pp. 275–290
Abolition of the han system

The abolition of the han system (廃藩置県, haihan-chiken) in the Empire of Japan and its replacement by a system of prefectures in 1871 was the culmination of the Meiji Restoration begun in 1868, starting year of Meiji period (currently, there are 47 prefectures from Hokkaido to Okinawa in Japan). Under the reform, all daimyōs (feudal lords) were required to return their authority to the Emperor Meiji and his house. The process was accomplished in several stages, resulting in a new centralized government of Meiji Japan and the replacement of the old feudal system with a new oligarchy.

Bansho Shirabesho

The Bansho Shirabesho (蕃書調所), or "Institute for the Study of Barbarian Books," was the Japanese institute charged with the translation and study of foreign books and publications in the late Edo Period. Founded in 1857, it functioned as a sort of bureau of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was renamed Yōsho shirabesho (洋書調所) (institute for the study of Western books) in 1862, and Kaiseijo (開成所) in 1863. After the Boshin War, it was again renamed, and became the Kaisei gakkō (開成学校), which was managed under the Government of Meiji Japan. As the Kaisei gakkō, the institute became one of the predecessor organizations which merged to form University of Tokyo.


An earring is a piece of jewelry attached to the ear via a piercing in the earlobe or another external part of the ear (except in the case of clip earrings, which clip onto the lobe). Earrings are worn by both sexes, although more common among women, and have been used by different civilizations in different times.

Locations for piercings other than the earlobe include the rook, tragus, and across the helix (see image at right). The simple term "ear piercing" usually refers to an earlobe piercing, whereas piercings in the upper part of the external ear are often referred to as "cartilage piercings". Cartilage piercings are more complex to perform than earlobe piercings and take longer to heal.Earring components may be made of any number of materials, including metal, plastic, glass, precious stone, beads, wood, bone, and other materials. Designs range from small loops and studs to large plates and dangling items. The size is ultimately limited by the physical capacity of the earlobe to hold the earring without tearing. However, heavy earrings worn over extended periods of time may lead to stretching of the earlobe and the piercing.

Empress Myeongseong

Empress Myeongseong or Empress Myung-Sung (19 October 1851 – 8 October 1895), known informally as Queen Min, was the first official wife of Gojong, the twenty-sixth king of Joseon and the first emperor of the Korean Empire.

The government of Meiji Japan (明治政府) considered Empress Myeongseong (明成皇后) an obstacle to its overseas expansion. Efforts to remove her from the political arena, orchestrated through failed rebellions prompted by the father of King Gojong, the Heungseon Daewongun (an influential regent working with the Japanese), compelled her to take a harsher stand against Japanese influence.After Japan's victory in the First Sino-Japanese War, Joseon Korea came under the Japanese sphere of influence. The Empress advocated stronger ties between Korea and Russia in an attempt to block Japanese influence in Korea. Miura Gorō, the Japanese Minister to Korea at that time and a retired army lieutenant-general, backed the faction headed by the Daewongun, whom he considered to be more sympathetic to Japanese interests.

In the early morning of 8 October 1895, the Hullyeondae Regiment, loyal to the Daewongun, attacked the Gyeongbokgung, overpowering its Royal Guards. Hullyeondae officers, led by Lieutenant Colonel Woo Beomseon, then allowed a group of Japanese ronins, specifically recruited for this purpose to infiltrate and assassinate the Empress in the palace, under orders from Miura Gorō. The assassination of the Empress ignited outrage among other foreign powers.Domestically, the assassination prompted anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea with the "Short Hair Act Order" (단발령, 斷髮令), and some Koreans created the Eulmi Righteous Army and actively set up protests nationwide. Following the Empress's assassination, Emperor Gojong and the crown prince (later Emperor Sunjong of Korea) fled to the Russian legation in 1896. This led to the general repeal of the Gabo Reform, which was controlled by Japanese influence. In October 1897, King Gojong returned to Gyeongungung (modern-day Deoksugung). There, he proclaimed the founding of the Korean Empire.In South Korea, there has been renewed interest in Empress Myeongseong due to popular novels, a film, a TV drama and even a musical based on her life story.

Foreign relations of Meiji Japan

During the Meiji period, the new Government of Meiji Japan also modernized foreign policy, an important step in making Japan a full member of the international community. The traditional East Asia worldview was based not on an international society of national units but on cultural distinctions and tributary relationships. Monks, scholars, and artists, rather than professional diplomatic envoys, had generally served as the conveyors of foreign policy. Foreign relations were related more to the sovereign's desires than to the public interest.

History of tattooing

Tattooing has been practiced across the globe since at least Neolithic times, as evidenced by mummified preserved skin, ancient art and the archaeological record. Both ancient art and archaeological finds of possible tattoo tools suggest tattooing was practiced by the Upper Paleolithic period in Europe. However, direct evidence for tattooing on mummified human skin extends only to the 4th millennium BC. The oldest discovery of tattooed human skin to date is found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to between 3370 and 3100 BC. Other tattooed mummies have been recovered from at least 49 archaeological sites, including locations in Greenland, Alaska, Siberia, Mongolia, western China, Egypt, Sudan, the Philippines and the Andes. These include Amunet, Priestess of the Goddess Hathor from ancient Egypt (c. 2134–1991 BC), multiple mummies from Siberia including the Pazyryk culture of Russia and from several cultures throughout Pre-Columbian South America.

Korea under Japanese rule

Japanese Korea (Japanese: 大日本帝國 (朝鮮), Dai Nippon Teikoku (Chōsen)) refers to the period when Korea was under Japanese rule, between 1910 and 1945.

Joseon Korea came under the Japanese sphere of influence in the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876 and a complex coalition of the Meiji government, military, and business officials began a process of Korea's political and economic integration into Japan. The Korean Empire became a protectorate of Japan in 1905 in the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905 and the country was indirectly ruled by the Japanese through the Resident-General of Korea. Japan formally annexed the Korean Empire in 1910 in the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910. US president Herbert Hoover wrote his book “Freedom Betrayed” completed as follows During the thirty-five years of Japanese control, the life of the Korean people was revolutionized.the Japanese established order, built harbors, railways, roads and communications, good public buildings, and greatly improved housing.They established sanitation and taught better methods of agriculture.They built immense fertilizer factories in North Korea which lifted the people’s food supplies to reasonable levels. They reforested the bleak hills.They established a general system of education and the development of skills. Even dusty, drab and filthy clothing had been replace with clean bright colors. [6][7][8] Japanese Korea established the Korean Peninsula as an overseas colony of Japan administered by the General Government based in Keijō (Gyeongseong) which governed Korea with near-absolute power. Japanese rule prioritized Korea's Japanization, accelerating industrialization started by the Gwangmu Reform, building public works.without the consent of Gojong, the regent of the Korean Emperor Sunjong. Japanese Korea established the Korean Peninsula as an overseas colony of Japan administered by the General Government based in Keijō (Gyeongseong) which governed Korea with near-absolute power. Japanese rule prioritized Korea's Japanization, accelerating industrialization started by the Gwangmu Reform, building public works, and fighting the Korean independence movement.Japanese rule over Korea ended on 15 August 1945 upon the Surrender of Japan in World War II and the armed forces of the United States and the Soviet Union occupied the territory. The Division of Korea separated the Korean Peninsula under two governments and economic systems with the northern Soviet Civil Administration and the southern United States Army Military Government in Korea. In 1965, the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and South Korea declared the unequal treaties between Japan and Korea, especially 1905 and 1910, were "already null and void" at the time of their promulgation. Japanese rule remains controversial in modern-day North Korea and South Korea and its negative repercussions continue to affect these countries, including the industrialization plan to solely benefit Japan, the exploitation of Korean people, the marginalization of Korean history and culture, the environmental exploitation of the Korean Peninsula, and the status of Japanese collaborators known as Chinilpa.

Kōchi Chōjō

Kōchi ueekata Chōjō (幸地 親方 朝常, 1843–1891) was a Ryukyuan aristocrat known for leading a movement to petition the government of Qing Dynasty China to rescue the Ryūkyū Kingdom from annexation by Imperial Japan, following the 1872 announcement by the government of Meiji Japan to do so.

It was typical at this time for Ryukyuan aristocrats to have multiple names. Chōjō held the title of ueekata of the domain of Kōchi, and was thus known as "Kōchi ueekata". He was also known as Shō Tokukō (向 徳宏, C: Xiang Dehong).

Meiji oligarchy

The Meiji oligarchy was the new ruling class of Meiji period Japan. In Japanese, the Meiji oligarchy is called the domain clique (藩閥, hambatsu).

The members of this class were adherents of kokugaku and believed they were the creators of a new order as grand as that established by Japan's original founders. Two of the major figures of this group were Ōkubo Toshimichi (1832–78), son of a Satsuma retainer, and Satsuma samurai Saigō Takamori (1827–77), who had joined forces with Chōshū, Tosa, and Hizen to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate. Okubo became minister of finance and Saigō a field marshal; both were imperial councillors. Kido Koin (1833–77), a native of Chōshū, student of Yoshida Shōin, and conspirator with Ōkubo and Saigō, became minister of education and chairman of the Governors' Conference and pushed for constitutional government. Also prominent were Iwakura Tomomi (1825–83), a Kyoto native who had opposed the Tokugawa and was to become the first ambassador to the United States, and Ōkuma Shigenobu (1838–1922), of Hizen, a student of Rangaku, Chinese, and English, who held various ministerial portfolios, eventually becoming prime minister in 1898.

To accomplish the new order's goals, the Meiji oligarchy set out to abolish the four divisions of society through a series of economic and social reforms. Tokugawa shogunate revenues had depended on taxes on Tokugawa and other daimyo lands, loans from wealthy peasants and urban merchants, limited customs fees, and reluctantly accepted foreign loans. To provide revenue and develop a sound infrastructure, the new government financed harbor improvements, lighthouses, machinery imports, schools, overseas study for students, salaries for foreign teachers and advisers, modernization of the army and navy, railroads and telegraph networks, and foreign diplomatic missions, such as the Iwakura mission.

Difficult economic times, manifested by increasing incidents of agrarian rioting, led to calls for social reforms. In addition to the old high rents, taxes, and interest rates, the average citizen was faced with cash payments for new taxes, military conscription, and tuition charges for the newly introduced compulsory education. The people needed more time for productive pursuits while correcting social abuses of the past. To achieve these reforms, the old Tokugawa class system of samurai, farmer, artisan, and merchant was abolished by 1871, and, even though old prejudices and status consciousness continued, all were theoretically equal before the law. Actually helping to perpetuate social distinctions, the government named new social divisions: the former daimyō became peerage nobility, the samurai became gentry, and all others became commoners. Daimyō and samurai pensions were paid off in lump sums, and the samurai later lost their exclusive claim to military positions. Former samurai found new pursuits as bureaucrats, teachers, army officers, police officials, journalists, scholars, colonists in the northern parts of Japan, bankers, and businessmen. These occupations helped stem some of the discontent this large group felt; some profited immensely, but many were not successful and provided significant opposition in the ensuing years.

The 1873 Korean crisis resulted in the resignation of military expedition proponents Saigō and Councillor of State Etō Shimpei (1834–74). Etō, the founder of various patriotic organizations, conspired with other discontented elements to start an armed insurrection against government troops in Saga, the capital of his native prefecture in Kyūshū in 1874. Charged with suppressing the revolt, Ōkubo swiftly crushed Etō, who had appealed unsuccessfully to Saigō for help. Three years later, the last major armed uprising—but the most serious challenge to the Meiji government—took shape in the Satsuma Rebellion, this time with Saigō playing an active role. The Saga Rebellion and other agrarian and samurai uprisings mounted in protest to the Meiji reforms had been easily put down by the army. Satsuma's former samurai were numerous, however, and they had a long tradition of opposition to central authority. Saigō, with some reluctance and only after more widespread dissatisfaction with the Meiji reforms, raised a rebellion in 1877. Both sides fought well, but the modern weaponry and better financing of the government forces ended the Satsuma Rebellion. Although he was defeated and committed suicide, Saigō was not branded a traitor and became a heroic figure in Japanese history. The suppression of the Satsuma Rebellion marked the end of serious threats to the Meiji regime but was sobering to the oligarchy. The fight drained the national treasury, led to serious inflation, and forced land values—and badly needed taxes—down. Most important, calls for reform were renewed.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (三菱重工業株式会社, Mitsubishi Jūkōgyō Kabushiki-kaisha, informally MHI) is a Japanese multinational engineering, electrical equipment and electronics company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. MHI is one of the core companies of the Mitsubishi Group.

MHI's products include aerospace components, air conditioners, aircraft, automotive components, forklift trucks, hydraulic equipment, machine tools, missiles, power generation equipment, printing machines, ships and space launch vehicles. Through its defense-related activities, it is the world's 23rd-largest defense contractor measured by 2011 defense revenues and the largest based in Japan.On November 28, 2018, the company was ordered by the South Korea Supreme Court to pay compensation for forced labor which the company oversaw during the Japanese occupation of Korea.

National Foundation Day

National Foundation Day (建国記念の日, Kenkoku Kinen no Hi) is a national holiday in Japan celebrated annually on February 11, celebrating the mythological foundation of Japan and the accession of its first emperor, Emperor Jimmu at Kashihara gū on 11 February 660 BC.

Prostitution in Japan

Prostitution in Japan has existed throughout the country's history. While the Anti-Prostitution Law of 1956 states that "No person may either do prostitution or become the customer of it", loopholes, liberal interpretations and loose enforcement of the law have allowed the sex industry to prosper and earn an estimated 2.3 trillion yen ($24 billion) per year.In Japan, the "sex industry" (fūzoku, 風俗, literally "public morals") is not synonymous with prostitution. Since Japanese law defines prostitution as "intercourse with an unspecified person in exchange for payment", most fūzoku offer only non-coital services, such as conversation, dancing, or bathing, to remain legal.

Rin Seikō

Rin Seikō (林 世功, 1842–1880) was a scholar-bureaucrat and diplomat of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. He was known for leading a movement to petition the government of Qing Dynasty China to rescue the Ryūkyū Kingdom from annexation by Imperial Japan.

It was standard at the time for members of Ryūkyū's aristocratic class to have two names: Chinese style name (唐名, Karana) and Japanese style name (大和名, Yamatona). "Rin Seikō" was his Chinese style name, while "Nashiro Shunbō" (名城 春傍) or "Nashiro Satonushioyakumoi Shunbō" (名城 里之子親雲上 春傍) was his Japanese style name.

Sagara Sōzō

Sagara Sōzō (相楽 総三, 1839 - March 26, 1868), real name Kojima Shirō (小島 四郎), was the leader of the Sekihōtai 1st Unit.

Scrip of Edo period Japan

During the Edo period, feudal domains of Japan issued scrip called hansatsu (藩札) for use within the domain. This paper currency supplemented the coinage of the Tokugawa shogunate. Most scrip carried a face value in silver coinage, but gold and copper scrip also circulated. In addition, some scrip was marked for exchange in kind for a commodity such as rice. In addition to those issued by the domains, forms of paper money were also issued by rice brokers in Osaka and Edo. Originally used only as a representation of amounts of rice (subdivisions of koku) owned by the scrip-holder and held in the Osaka or Edo merchants' storehouse, these scrips quickly came to be used as currency.

Japan's first banknotes, called Yamada Hagaki (山田羽書), were issued around 1600 by Shinto priests also working as merchants in the Ise-Yamada (modern Mie Prefecture), in exchange for silver. This was earlier than the first goldsmith notes issued in England around 1640.An early issue of domain scrip took place in the Fukui domain in 1661. As early as 1610, private notes had been printed for purposes such as payment of workers on construction projects. Domains issued scrip to supplement coins in times of shortage and to adjust the amount in circulation. They also exchanged scrip for coins to improve the financial situation of the domain. By the end of the period, eight out of ten domains issued paper, as did a few daikan-sho and hatamoto.

Accepting scrip always carried the risk of forfeiture. During the Edo period, the shogunate seized some domains, and transferred others; on such occasions, the new daimyō might not honor the old scrip. Following the condemnation and death of the daimyō Asano Naganori, for example, Ōishi Yoshio, a house elder in the Akō Domain (and later the leader of the Forty-seven rōnin), ordered the redemption of scrip at 60% of face value. In addition, in times of financial difficulty, the domain might simply declare scrip void. Early in the period, domains printed their own scrip; later, they operated through prominent merchants, whose credibility was important to the acceptance of the currency.

The shogunate prohibited the use of scrip in 1707. In 1730, however, Tokugawa Yoshimune authorized domains to issue paper with time limits for redemption. Large domains (200,000 koku and above) could issue currency valid for 25 years, and small domains for 15 years. His son Ieshige prohibited new issue of scrip, and restricted the circulation of scrip other than that exchangeable for silver, in 1759. Despite the prohibitions, domains in severe financial straits occasionally issued paper money.

Each domain formulated its own rules about its scrip. While there were some that forbade the shogunate's coinage, many allowed both coins and scrip to circulate. As a rule, scrip circulated only within the domain that issued it, but there were exceptions. For example, paper issued by the Kishū domain in 1866 was also used in Yamato, Izumi, Kawachi, Settsu, and Harima Provinces.

In 1871, the Government of Meiji Japan ordered the abolition of the han system and ordered the exchange of all scrip for the national currency. Exchange continued until 1879. In the interim, some scrip carried markings from the central government indicating the value in yen and the smaller sen and rin.


The Sekihōtai (赤報隊, "Red Vanguard Regiment") was a group of Japanese political extremists formed in 1868 during the Boshin War.

Shrine Consolidation Policy

The Shrine Consolidation Policy (Jinja seirei, also Jinja gōshi, Jinja gappei) was an effort by the Government of Meiji Japan to abolish numerous smaller Shinto shrines and consolidate their functions with larger regional shrines. In 1900, the Shrine Bureau (Jinja kyoku) was created as a branch of the Home Ministry, and it was this organ that was responsible for the implementation of the policy.The aim of the policy was to reduce the political influence of Shinto, bringing the remaining shrines under government jurisdiction and making them easier to control. Within the first twenty years of the policy, 77,899 Shinto shrines were closed, despite considerable local opposition. The policy remained in effect until the end of World War II, although its greatest impact occurred in the first six years after its implementation in 1906; by 1912, the rate at which shrines were closed had fallen considerably.


A tattoo is a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes and pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. The art of making tattoos is tattooing.

Tattoos fall into three broad categories: purely decorative (with no specific meaning); symbolic (with a specific meaning pertinent to the wearer); pictorial (a depiction of a specific person or item). In addition, tattoos can be used for identification such as ear tattoos on livestock as a form of branding.


Vesak (Pali: Vesākha, Sanskrit: Vaiśākha), also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day, is a holiday traditionally observed by Buddhists and some Hindus on different days in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, and in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam as "Buddha's Birthday" as well as in other parts of the world. The festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition.


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