Meiji Restoration (1868-1912)

  1. Analyze the political, social and economic structure of Japan before and after the Meiji Restoration.
  2. In what ways did society change from the Tokugawa (1600-1868) to the Meiji period?
  3. How did the Japanese response to the West differ from Qing dynasty’s response?


1. Why Modernize and How to Modernize
2. Meiji Imperialism and Buildup to WWII
3. Commodore Perry through Imperialist Japan
4. Investigating Japan Ch 9-15 (text) and Notes to accompany the chapters
5. Asia for Educators site
6. MIT's Visualizing Culture (see sidebar on the left for different topics/ perspectives)

The Charter Oath (1868): Broad policies declared by the Emperor and other leaders within the first few years of the Meji Restoration:
1. Deliberative assemblies (a legislature) shall be widely established and all matters decided by public discussion. (We'll consult with people about what we should do)
2. All classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state. (Everyone needs to get involved)
3. The common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall each be allowed to pursue his own calling so that there may be no discontent (You can and should do whatever job for which you are best suited)
4. Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of Nature (Get rid of old customs or beliefs that get in the way of progress)
5. Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule (Look abroad for knowledge, expertise and technology)

Critical Thinking Questions.

1. How would the Charter Oath be used to launch the modernization of Japan?
For example-Article 5 states that “Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule.” The clear implication is that the old isolation policy has come to a decisive end and there will be effort to learn western ways and knowledge, but this clearly includes only such knowledge as supports “the foundations of imperial rule.”

2. Why modernize? Why become like the west? How did the Japanese perceive the west during this time?

3. How was it possible to dismantle the old feudal institutions so completely?

4. Why did Japanese at all levels throw themselves so enthusiastically into making their nation modern? What was in it for them?

5. Why did the Japanese embark on the reformation of their society? How were they able to succeed where other nations failed (e.g.. China)?

Key Point: When the Meiji period ended, with the death of the emperor in 1912, Japan had: (1) a highly centralized, bureaucratic government; (2) a constitution establishing an elected parliament; (3) a well-developed transport and communication system; (4) a highly educated population free of feudal class restrictions; (5) an established and rapidly growing industrial sector based on the latest technology; and (6) a powerful army and navy

Exercise: RAFT Writing Assignment


Essay Question:

1. Pick THREE of the following four "areas" to write about:
  • political
  • economic
  • social
  • military

2. Your essay (5 paragraph) will answer the following:

Analyze the (political/ economic/ social/ military) changes during the Meiji period.

Para 1: Introduction
  • Thesis
Para 2: (Either political/ economic/ social/ military)
Para 3: Area of analysis #2
Para 3: Area of analysis #3

Graphic Organizer:

Class Instructions

History Change Frame