Emperor Meiji (3 November 1852 – 30 July 1912), or Meiji the Great was the 122nd Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death on 30 July 1912.
The Meiji period (Meiji-jidai), or the Meiji era, is a Japanese history period which extended from September 1868 through July 1912.During this period Japanese society moved from being an isolated feudal society to its modern form. Fundamental changes affected its social structure, internal politics, economy, military, and foreign relations.
The first reform was the promulgation of the Five Charter Oath in 1868, a general statement of the aims of the Meiji (enlightened) leaders to boost morale and win financial support for the new government. Its five provisions consisted of:
Establishment of deliberative assemblies
Involvement of all classes in carrying out state affairs
The revocation of sumptuary laws and class restrictions on employment
Replacement of "evil customs" with the "just laws of nature" and
An international search for knowledge to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule.
In 1871, the Emperor announced that domains were entirely abolished, as Japan was organized into 72 prefectures.
Industrial Development During the Meiji Period
The Industrial Revolution in Japan occurred during the Meiji period.
There were at least two reasons for the speed of Japan's modernization: More than 3,000 foreign experts were employed in a variety of specialist fields such as teaching English, science, engineering, the army and navy, among others. Many Japanese students were sent overseas to Europe and America, based on the fifth and last article of the Charter Oath of 1868: 'Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundations of Imperial rule.' This process of modernization was closely monitored and heavily subsidized by the Meiji government and this enhanced the power of the great zaibatsu firms such as Mitsui and Mitsubishi.
Technology was heavily borrowed and imported from the West. Japan gradually took control of much of Asia's market for manufactured goods, beginning with textiles. Importing raw materials and exporting finished products flourished—a reflection of Japan's relative poverty in raw materials.
From the onset, the Meiji rulers embraced the concept of a market economy and adopted British and North American forms of free enterprise capitalism. The private sector—in a nation with an abundance of aggressive entrepreneurs—welcomed such change.
Economic reforms included a unified modern currency based on the yen, banking, commercial and tax laws, stock exchanges, and a communications network. Establishment of a modern institutional framework conducive to an advanced capitalist economy was completed by the 1890s.
Many of the former daimyo, whose pensions had been paid in a lump sum, benefited greatly through investments they made in emerging industries. Those who had been informally involved in foreign trade before the Meiji Restoration also flourished.
The government initially was involved in economic modernization, providing a number of "model factories" to facilitate the transition to the modern period. After the first twenty years of the Meiji period, the industrial economy expanded rapidly until about 1920 with inputs of advanced Western technology and large private investments. Stimulated by wars and through cautious economic planning, Japan emerged from World War I as a major industrial nation.