Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meiji Restoration, Japan Modernizes into a World Power

The few ships of the Tokugawa Shogunate "Navy" before Commodore Perry's visit in 1853, were coastal junks with no effective armament.
By the 1880's, the Imperial Japanese Navy contained warships of the latest design such as the protected cruiser Naniwa armed with machine guns,and breech loading cannons.

After the United States opened Japan to the Modern World, a massive culture shock shook the country to its core. The Tokugawa Shogunate wanted to keep the status-quo while the Young Emperor Meiji wanted to modernize the whole of Japanese society, without the Shogunate and Samurai Feudalism. This lead to brief, but bloody civil war. The modern Imperial Army and Imperial Navy won. Under Emperor Meiji's reform government a crash modernization program that touched every aspect of Japanese life was instituted. By the 1890's the new Japan had defeated the Chinese and in 1905-06 Japan won the Russo-Japanese War. For the first time in history an Asian nation had defeated a Major European Power. In less than fifty years Japan had advanced from 17th Century technology to that of the Modern World. Under the Meiji Restoration Japan had arrived as a Major World Power.

Meiji, the 122nd Emperor of Nippon, in traditional robes of state.
Emperor Meiji in the modern clothing of a European Imperial Head of State.
Samurai officers of the Tokugawa Shogunate circa 1866.
Officers and men of the modern Imperial Army of Japan circa 1890. They are equipped with the latest weapons, trained in the most current European tactics, and confident in the power of Modern Japan.
Emperor Meiji and his Imperial Consort Shoken in European dress befitting their station.

After the modernization of his nation, Emperor Meiji said,"I dreamed of a unified Japan. Of a country strong and independent and modern… Now we have railroads and cannon and Western clothing. But we cannot forget who we are. Or where we come from."

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