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Social, Cultural and Economic Changes during the Meiji Restoration L/O – To identify how Japanese society changed during the Meiji Restoration.

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Presentation on theme: "Social, Cultural and Economic Changes during the Meiji Restoration L/O – To identify how Japanese society changed during the Meiji Restoration."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social, Cultural and Economic Changes during the Meiji Restoration L/O – To identify how Japanese society changed during the Meiji Restoration

2 The Goal of the Meiji Reformers The primary goal of the Meiji Reformers was to modernise Japan in order to end the unfair treaties imposed on it by the West. Two study missions were sent to the West to find out how this could be done. First, the Iwakura Mission of 1872; Second, the Hirobumi Mission of Both reported the West’s power seemed to lie in its advanced science, economy and military. Meiji reformers therefore coined the phrase ‘rich country, strong army’ (fukoku kyo nei) as an aim. Japan would have to be changed socially, culturally and economically in order to achieve this. Ito Hirobumi Iwakura Tomomi

3 Members of the Iwakura Misson (1872)

4 Route of the Iwakura Mission

5 Problems facing Meiji Reformers Social ProblemsCultural ProblemsEconomic Problems Japan was divided socially by a rigid class/caste system known as the shi-no-ko-sho. Japan was a fixed, hereditary system. No incentive for people to improve their lives, reform or innovate. Samurai stipends amounted to 50% of government expenditure in No public school system in Women had no rights in society. Confucian belief system under the Tokugawa Bakufu discouraged change to the social system and Westernisation. Elements of society hostile to Westernisation and development. Samurai culture and ‘Bushido’ discouraged many Samurai from adapting to modern warfare. Japanese national identity was still weak and many not committed to the emperor as a political symbol. In 1868 Japan had an advanced feudal economy but was still based on agriculture. Silk was its main export. No national tax system in 1868! Lack of government funds for development and industrialisation. Japanese industry faced foreign competition on unequal terms, unable to protect its own industries. Japan lacked raw materials for industrialisation.

6 Social Changes One of the strangest things about the Meiji Restoration is the fact that the Samurai and Daimyo class abolished themselves! In the 1870s the government took incremental steps to reduced the power of the Samurai. This was necessary in order to reform Japanese society from a hereditary status system to a meritocracy. This was necessary – Samurai stipends were costing the government 50% of public revenue!

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9 The End of the Samurai 1869 – Samurai ranks reduced to just two: Upper (shizoku) and Lower Samurai (sotsu) – Large proportion of Lower Samurai reclassified as ‘commoners’ (heimin), although retain stipend – Stipends are taxed for first time – Mass Conscription to imperial army introduced. All males over 20 serve for 3 years. Samurai face loss of pride and purpose.

10 The End of the Samurai 1874 – Voluntary program to convert Stipends to government bonds. Bonds promised 5-15 years of income with 5-7% interest. Lower than Stipend so few accepted – Bond program made compulsory. All Stipends converted to bonds. Samurai incomes fall by 10-75%. Samurai also banned from carrying weapons – reserved for police and army only – Satsuma Rebellion. Last Samurai rebellion against reforms led by Saigo Takamori. Defeated by government.

11 Other Social Changes 1870 – All non-Samurai in Japan were classified in legal terms as ‘commoners’ (heimin), ending the shinokosho system – Tokugawa restrictions on modes of travel, dress, hairstyle and occupation all ended – Discrimination against outcast groups such as eta and hinin ended. Reclassified as ‘burakumin’ or village people.

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13 Changes to Education If society was to change and modernise, the Meiji reformers knew that the education system also had to change. It was based on American and French models. Like military conscription, mass schooling was seen as a source of the economic and military strength of the West – National system of elementary, middle school and university education established. 4 years compulsory elementary education.

14 Changes to Education Schooling was to emphasise practical/technical learning and independent thinking. The school system was also used to teach children to be patriotic towards the emperor – 46% school attendance 1900 – 90% school attendance 1905 – 98% school attendance Schooling enforced the idea that life should be open and reflect one’s talents and efforts i.e. meritocracy.

15 Cultural Changes - Westernisation With social changes came cultural change. In the 1870s there was a fashion for anything Western from Ball-room dancing to beards and top hats. The catalyst for cultural changes was the publishing industry. Books, essays and novels all discussed Western Ideas, especially after the Iwakura Mission of – First newspaper – Yokohama Mainichi 1872 – Western style dress became obligatory at the Royal Court.

16 Cultural Changes – Eastern Spirit However Japan didn’t just copy the West culturally. It based its new nationalism on Western ideas and a revival of its own past. Shintoism was re-emphasised as the state religion and personified in the emperor and a new Shinto shrine for the nation was built in Tokyo – the Yasukuni Jinja. Bushido (Way of the Samurai) was re- invented as the ‘Soul of Japan’: a new nationalist ideology. See Bushido: The Soul of Japan (1899).

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18 Cultural Changes – Emperor Worship This new Japanese nationalism, a mixture of Western ideas and Japanese traditions, was symbolised by the emperor himself. The emperor became a unifying force for this new nationalism, and he came to represent the social and national identity of Meiji Japan. This was reinforced by the 1889 Constitution, Patriotic Education in school and through the Shinto religion.

19 Economic Changes – Emperor Worship Ever since the Iwakura Mission in 1872, the reformers realised that the source of Western strength came from their economic power: ‘Our recent travels have taken us to many interesting and famous places…there is nothing we have not visited. Everywhere you go there is nothing growing in the ground, just coal and iron… Factories have increased to an unheard-of extent, their black smoke rising to the sky… This is a sufficient explanation of England’s wealth and strength… and it is said that this great growth of trade and industry in the cities is something which has happened in the last fifty years.’ Okubo Toshimichi, 20 th December 1872, four days after leaving Dover, UK. Okubo was deputy to the ambassador Iwakura Tomomi and was himself an ex- samurai.

20 Economic Changes – Financing Growth The first problem was financing the government budget. In 1871, the government took on the debt of all the domains. Samurai costs reached 50% of total government expenditure. By dismantling the privileges of the Daimyo and Samurai class, the government reduced costs – A National Land Tax was introduced for the first time, demanding cash payments instead of rice.

21 Economic Changes – Industrialisation The government next used these funds to build new industries and ‘model factories’ for the business community to imitate. Shipping lines, railways, telegraph and telephone systems, shipyards, mines, munition works and consumer industries like sugar, glass and cement were built. However by the 1880s, a lack of funds forced the government to sell these industries to private businesses. In return for working for the government, the companies would get special privileges.

22 Economic Changes – Industrialisation This became known as the Zaibatsu system (huge business conglomerates) like Mitsubishi and Nintendo were created at this time. Many Zaibatsu found it hard at first to compete internationally, so many companies sold their products at a loss to gain markets. The Japanese Silk industry was one market in which they dominated, helped by the failure of the Italian Silk Market.

23 Raw Silk Production & Export from Japan Period Production annual average (tons) Exports annual average (tons)

24 Coal Production in Japan from PeriodCoal Production (metric tons) , ,200, ,000, ,000, ,300,000

25 The Size of the Japanese Merchant Fleet from PeriodNumber of Steamships

26 Road Mileage in Japan from PeriodTrack (miles)

27 Task You task is to write up your notes on the Social, Cultural and Economic changes of the Meiji Restoration. You can either: Produce a detailed timeline of the major changes Produce a comic strip of changes (ComicLife3?) Produce a Youtube Video / Presentation of the Changes Create a revision booklet of the change Create a textbook style revision hand-out with pictures Any other method you see fit. Try to think of ways to record your information clearly and diagrammatically and with images. Read the articles on the website under ‘further reading’ for more information and notes.


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