Was Christianity legalized during the Meiji Restoration?

Was Christianity legalized during the Meiji Restoration?

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Also were men given the right to vote during the Restoration?

After the Meiji-Restoration, Christianity, and all religions were legalized, and according to the article I read, were "promulgated."

In 1890, after the Restoration, the wealthiest men (about 1% of the population), were allowed to vote for parliament. By 1925, all men were allowed.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2298.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Japan#Christianity

http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/special/japan_1750_meiji.htm (See social and economic changes)

History of the Catholic Church in Japan

Christian missionaries arrived with Francis Xavier and the Jesuits in the 1540s and briefly flourished, with over 100,000 converts, including many daimyōs in Kyushu. It soon met resistance from the highest office holders of Japan. Emperor Ogimachi issued edicts to ban Catholicism in 1565 and 1568, but to little effect. Beginning in 1587 with imperial regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi's ban on Jesuit missionaries, Christianity was repressed as a threat to national unity. [1] After the Tokugawa shogunate banned Christianity in 1620 it ceased to exist publicly. Many Catholics went underground, becoming hidden Christians ( 隠れキリシタン , kakure kirishitan) , while others lost their lives. Only after the Meiji Restoration was Christianity re-established in Japan.

Christianity began in the 1st century AD after Jesus died and resurrected, as a small group of Jewish people in Judea, but quickly spread throughout the Roman empire. Despite early persecution of Christians , it later became the state religion . In the Middle Ages it spread into Northern Europe and Russia.

He is believed to be the Jewish messiah who is prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, which is called the Old Testament in Christianity. It is believed that through his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, God offered humans salvation and eternal life, that Jesus died to atone for sin to make humanity right with God.

The Meiji Miracle

Ask the average intelligent American reader about the Meiji revolution and you will learn very little. "Something about Japan" or "Was he a Chinese emperor?" is about par for the course in my experience. Yet the Meiji Revolution, generally known as the Meiji Restoration among students of Asian history, stands along with the American, French and Russian revolutions as one of the defining political and cultural transformations of modern times. For more than a century, it has been a model for modernizing nation-states and societies throughout the world. It turned Japan from a cloistered island society into a modern, soon-to-be imperialist nation-state in the space of a quarter-century and in so doing exerted a powerful effect on Asian and world history. Except for the works of Asianist scholars, it has received almost none of the attention given its three counterparts.

Now in a magisterial book that's also highly readable, Marius Jansen has told the story of Meiji and with it the creation of modern Japan. A distinguished professor of history at Princeton, Jansen has previously written books, such as Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration and The Japanese and Sun Yatsen, that concentrated on specific topics. Here he paints with a broader brush. The title seems carefully chosen: His time frame extends from the beginning of the 17th century to the 21st. But his concentration on the significant past--only three out of 20 chapters are given to the period from the '30s to today--is purposeful. Without some knowledge of Japan's extraordinary and explosive past, we cannot hope to understand the still-gestating society of its present.

Like many other classics, this book begins with a battle. In the year 1600, Sekigahara, a set-piece struggle with some 100,000 men on each side, decided the future of feudal Japan in favor of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the canny dynast who founded the shogunate that bears his name. Jansen recounts the battle by describing the action on a pair of screens that the winner gave his daughter. That approach is typical. One of the book's virtues is the space the author gives to cultural and social history, making this far more than a mere chronicle of leaders and politics.

The semi-military dictatorship that Ieyasu set up--the Japanese word for shogunate, bakufu, literally means "tent government"--lasted for two and a half centuries. At least in its early years, Jansen points out, Japan was by no means the isolated "closed country" of conventional history books. Trade and intellectual commerce long continued with China and with the restricted Dutch colony in Nagasaki. Tokugawa's shogunal successors, however, were more than a little spooked by the success of 16th- and 17th-century Catholic missionaries from Europe. "Japanese paranoia about Christianity was never relaxed," Jansen writes. While nervousness about foreign intrusions, religious or military, led to severe prohibitions against overseas travel, at home Japan developed a cultural richness, a nascent economy and a sophisticated urban society. Increasingly, local agrarian protests and economic strain made problems for the shogun's administrators. For all that, Tokugawa Japan remained, in Jansen's words, "a cocoon seldom penetrated from without."

Still, the shogunate, based on a loose system of feudal vassalage, might have survived longer than it did had it not been for the mid-19th-century threat posed by the visiting warships of Commodore Perry and various European navies. The demands of the foreigners that Japan open itself to trade marked the end of "700 years of warrior rule." The resultant treaty agreements, Jansen continues, "made it necessary for Japan to . . . enter the international order on terms dictated by the West. The struggle to regain its sovereignty then forced Japan to embark on policies of centralization and institutional innovation to build a modern nation state, and involved the basic restructuring of domestic society."

Threatened by foreign military imperialism from without and angry sword-wielding nativists from within, with the Western spoliation of China progressing ominously just next door, Japan threw up a generation of remarkable samurai-bureaucrats, who managed to bring off an extraordinary national self-modernization, all in the name of a revived, archaic emperor-cult. Jansen relates the complexities of this political, cultural and economic revolution well. Casting aside the "restoration" label put on by Japanese historians (and their American followers), Jansen holds that the Meiji transformations "better deserve the term revolution, because they brought permanent change to Japan's institutional life."

The young men of Meiji, most of them from the powerful "outside" clans of Satsuma and Choshu in southern Japan, were political pragmatists in a hurry. Working by trial and error and profiting greatly from their exploratory fact-finding tours of Europe and the United States, they put together a new nation-state, which within 50 years became a world power. As revolutions go, the impact of this one was strikingly constructive. Quite comparable to what went on in America a century before, it contrasted favorably with the bloody excesses of the French and Soviet revolutions.

Jansen takes the reader by the hand to show what happened and why in those intense formative years. A master of his craft, he allows the Meiji reformers, their opponents and foreign observers of that day to tell the story. He also gives credit to the views of contemporary historians, both Japanese and Westerners, who have handled the subject. Through it all he tracks the critical flaw of this "reform cloaked in the antiquity of the court." For the young samurai-bureaucrats had made a Faustian bargain that was to plague Japan to this day. Worried after his Western trip about the lack of a corresponding sense of civic responsibility and religion in Japan, Ito Hirobumi, Meiji Japan's constitution-maker, did his best to enshrine (and legalize) the imperial house as "the axis of the state" and the modern nation's principal claim to legitimacy.

The ensuing contradictions between internationalist democratic reformers and xenophobic worshipers of a divine emperor only grew with time. They led to the fall of the 1920s "Taisho democracy," the brutal assault on China in the '30s and the nasty, revived "samurai spirit" of the Pacific War. Even recently, in the heyday of the postwar "economic miracle," a Nagasaki mayor could be stabbed for asserting (quite correctly) that the late Emperor Hirohito bore his share of war guilt. Only a few months ago, Prime Minister Mori drew heavy criticism for his off-the-cuff statement to constituents that Japan remains "the country of the gods."

In tracking history through to the present, Jansen makes clear the abiding influence of the Meiji Revolution. Today's bureaucratic governance, political factionalism and the interlocking connection of business and government are part of the Meiji legacy. So is the dynamism that made Japan an economic superpower and restored political freedoms, with some considerable help from the post-1945 U.S. Occupation. To consider Japan without the Meiji exemplars would be like taking America without the Founding Fathers.

Jansen's appraisals of contemporary Japan are sound and well-considered, if rather brief. I only wish he had had more to say both about imperial war guilt and the atrocities of the late '30s Nanjing Massacre--which many of us believe, based on the findings of recent Japanese scholarship, were part of a premeditated attempt by Japan's militarists to shock the Chinese people into submission. Nonetheless, the author does not overlook the dark record, including U.S. cooperation in exonerating the criminal medical experimenters of the Imperial Army's notorious 731 Unit. He gives due credit to Douglas MacArthur's leading role in Japan's "second opening"--"a fortunate match of man and task." Equal credit goes to the constructive work of Yoshida Shigeru, prime minister throughout the Occupation days, as "the grand old man of post-surrender Japan." Indeed, such sweeping changes as land reform and labor relations, widely assumed to "thunder down from the Olympus" of MacArthur's headquarters, could not have succeeded without the cooperation and often the initiative of Japanese bureaucrats.

In all, Jansen's book runs to 871 pages, and the total would have been greater if the publisher had not used an excruciatingly small typeface. (Reading it, page by page, gave me considerable sympathy with the reviewers of Gibbon's first edition.) But he has a lot to say. The capstone of Jansen's work as America's foremost historian of Japan, this book will long be must reading for students. But the author's relaxed style, his eye for people and the clarity and patience of his explanations should appeal to any thoughtful reader.

Frank Gibney, president of the Pacific Basin Institute and professor of politics at Pomona College, is the author of "Japan: The Fragile Superpower" and "The Pacific Century."


The Meiji Restoration in 1868 provided Japan a form of constitutional monarchy based on the Prusso-German model, in which the Emperor of Japan was an active ruler and wielded considerable political power over foreign policy and diplomacy which was shared with an elected Imperial Diet. [3] The Diet primarily dictated domestic policy matters.

After the Meiji Restoration, which restored direct political power to the emperor for the first time in over a millennium, Japan underwent a period of sweeping political and social reform and westernization aimed at strengthening Japan to the level of the nations of the Western world. The immediate consequence of the Constitution was the opening of the first Parliamentary government in Asia. [4]

The Meiji Constitution established clear limits on the power of the executive branch and the Emperor. It also created an independent judiciary. Civil rights and civil liberties were allowed, though they were freely subject to limitation by law. [5] Free speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion were all limited by laws. [5] The leaders of the government and the political parties were left with the task of interpretation as to whether the Meiji Constitution could be used to justify authoritarian or liberal-democratic rule. It was the struggle between these tendencies that dominated the government of the Empire of Japan. Franchise was limited, with only 1.1% of the population eligible to vote for the Diet. [5]

The Meiji Constitution was used as a model for the 1931 Constitution of Ethiopia by the Ethiopian intellectual Tekle Hawariat Tekle Mariyam. This was one of the reasons why the progressive Ethiopian intelligentsia associated with Tekle Hawariat were known as "Japanizers". [6]

By the surrender in the World War II on 2 September 1945, the Empire of Japan was deprived of sovereignty by the Allies, and the Meiji Constitution was suspended. During the Occupation of Japan, the Meiji Constitution was replaced by a new document, the postwar Constitution of Japan. This document replaced imperial rule with a form of Western-style liberal democracy. Officially, these changes are an amendment to Meiji Constitution under its Article 73 provisions for amendment, so the current Japanese constitution maintains legal continuity with the Meiji Constitution.

Background Edit

Prior to the adoption of the Meiji Constitution, Japan had in practice no written constitution. Originally, a Chinese-inspired legal system and constitution known as ritsuryō was enacted in the 6th century (in the late Asuka period and early Nara period) it described a government based on an elaborate and theoretically rational meritocratic bureaucracy, serving under the ultimate authority of the emperor and organised following Chinese models. In theory the last ritsuryō code, the Yōrō Code enacted in 752, was still in force at the time of the Meiji Restoration.

However, in practice the ritsuryō system of government had become largely an empty formality as early as in the middle of the Heian period in the 10th and 11th centuries, a development which was completed by the establishment of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1185. The high positions in the ritsuryō system remained as sinecures, and the emperor was de-powered and set aside as a symbolic figure who "reigned, but did not rule" (on the theory that the living god should not have to defile himself with matters of earthly government).

The Charter Oath was promulgated at the enthronement of Emperor Meiji of Japan on 6 April 1868, which outlined the fundamental policies of the government and demanded the establishment of deliberative assemblies, but it did not determine the details. The idea of a written constitution had been a subject of heated debate within and without the government since the beginnings of the Meiji government. [8] The conservative Meiji oligarchy viewed anything resembling democracy or republicanism with suspicion and trepidation, and favored a gradualist approach. The Freedom and People's Rights Movement demanded the immediate establishment of an elected national assembly, and the promulgation of a constitution.

Drafting Edit

On October 21, 1881, Itō Hirobumi was appointed to chair a government bureau to research various forms of constitutional government, and in 1882, Itō led an overseas mission to observe and study various systems first-hand. [9] The United States Constitution was rejected as too liberal. The French and Spanish models were rejected as tending toward despotism. The Reichstag and legal structures of the German Empire, particularly that of Prussia, proved to be of the most interest to the Constitutional Study Mission. Influence was also drawn from the British Westminster system, although it was considered as being unwieldy and granting too much power to Parliament.

He also rejected some notions as unfit for Japan, as they stemmed from European constitutional practice and Christianity. [10] He therefore added references to the kokutai or "national polity" as the justification of the emperor's authority through his divine descent and the unbroken line of emperors, and the unique relationship between subject and sovereign. [11]

The Council of State was replaced in 1885 with a cabinet headed by Itō as Prime Minister. [12] The positions of Chancellor, Minister of the Left, and Minister of the Right, which had existed since the seventh century, were abolished. In their place, the Privy Council was established in 1888 to evaluate the forthcoming constitution, and to advise Emperor Meiji.

The draft committee included Inoue Kowashi, Kaneko Kentarō, Itō Miyoji and Iwakura Tomomi, along with a number of foreign advisors, in particular the German legal scholars Rudolf von Gneist and Lorenz von Stein. The central issue was the balance between sovereignty vested in the person of the Emperor, and an elected representative legislature with powers that would limit or restrict the power of the sovereign. After numerous drafts from 1886–1888, the final version was submitted to Emperor Meiji in April 1888. The Meiji Constitution was drafted in secret by the committee, without public debate.

Promulgation Edit

The new constitution was promulgated by Emperor Meiji on February 11, 1889 (the anniversary of the National Foundation Day of Japan in 660 BC), but came into effect on November 29, 1890. [13] [14] The first National Diet of Japan, a new representative assembly, convened on the day the Meiji Constitution came into force. [4] The organizational structure of the Diet reflected both Prussian and British influences, most notably in the inclusion of the House of Representatives as the lower house (existing currently, under the Article 42 of the post-war Japanese Constitution based on bicameralism) and the House of Peers as the upper house, (which resembled the Prussian Herrenhaus and the British House of Lords, now the House of Councillors of Japan under the Article 42 of the post-war Japanese Constitution based on bicameralism), and in the formal Speech from the Throne delivered by the Emperor on Opening Day (existing currently, under the Article 7 of the post-war Japanese Constitution). The second chapter of the constitution, detailing the rights of citizens, bore a resemblance to similar articles in both European and North American constitutions of the day.

Structure Edit

The Meiji Constitution consists of 76 articles in seven chapters, together amounting to around 2,500 words. It is also usually reproduced with its Preamble, the Imperial Oath Sworn in the Sanctuary in the Imperial Palace, and the Imperial Rescript on the Promulgation of the Constitution, which together come to nearly another 1,000 words. [15] The seven chapters are:

  • I. The Emperor (1–17)
  • II. Rights and Duties of Subjects (18–32)
  • III. The Imperial Diet (33–54)
  • IV. The Ministers of State and the Privy Council (55–56)
  • V. The Judicature (57–61)
  • VI. Finance (62–72)
  • VII. Supplementary Rules (73–76)

Imperial sovereignty Edit

Unlike its modern successor, the Meiji Constitution was founded on the principle that sovereignty resided in person of the Emperor, by virtue of his divine ancestry "unbroken for ages eternal", rather than in the people. Article 4 states that the "Emperor is the head of the Empire, combining in himself the rights of sovereignty". The Emperor, nominally at least, united within himself all three branches (executive, legislative and judiciary) of government, although legislation (article 5) and the budget (article 64) were subject to the "consent of the Imperial Diet". Laws were issued and justice administered by the courts "in the name of the Emperor".

Rules on the succession of the imperial throne and on the Imperial household were left outside the Constitution instead, a separate Act on the Imperial household (koshitu tenpan) was adopted. [5] This Act was not publicly promulgated, because it was seen as a private Act of the Imperial household rather than a public law. [5]

Separate provisions of the Constitution are contradictory as to whether the Constitution or the Emperor is supreme.

  • Article 3 declares him to be "sacred and inviolable", a formula which was construed by hard-line monarchists to mean that he retained the right to withdraw the constitution, or to ignore its provisions.
  • Article 4 binds the Emperor to exercise his powers "according to the provisions of the present Constitution".
  • Article 11 declares that the Emperor commands the army and navy. The heads of these services interpreted this to mean “The army and navy obey only the Emperor, and do not have to obey the cabinet and diet”, which caused political controversy.
  • Article 55, however, confirmed that the Emperor’s commands (including Imperial Ordinance, Edicts, Rescripts, etc.) had no legal force within themselves, but required the signature of a “Minister of State”. On the other hand, these “Ministers of State” were appointed by (and could be dismissed by), the Emperor alone, and not by the Prime Minister or the Diet.

Rights and duties of subjects Edit

  • Duties: The constitution asserts the duty of Japanese subjects to uphold the constitution (preamble), pay taxes (Article 21) and serve in the armed forces if conscripted (Article 20).
  • Qualified rights: The constitution provides for a number of rights that subjects may enjoy where the law does not provide otherwise. These included the right to:
    • Freedom of movement (Article 22).
    • Not have one's house searched or entered (Article 25). (Article 26). . , assembly and association (Article 29).
    • Right to "be appointed to civil or military or any other public offices equally" (Article 19).
    • 'Procedural' due process (Article 23).
    • Right to trial before a judge (Article 24). (Guaranteed by Article 28 "within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects"). government (Article 30).

    Organs of government Edit

    The Emperor of Japan had the right to exercise executive authority, and to appoint and dismiss all government officials. The Emperor also had the sole rights to declare war, make peace, conclude treaties, dissolve the lower house of Diet, and issue Imperial ordinances in place of laws when the Diet was not in session. Most importantly, command over the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy was directly held by the Emperor, and not the Diet. The Meiji Constitution provided for a cabinet consisting of Ministers of State who answered to the Emperor rather than the Diet, and to the establishment of the Privy Council. Not mentioned in the Constitution were the genrō, an inner circle of advisors to the Emperor, who wielded considerable influence.

    Under the Meiji Constitution, a legislature was established with two Houses. The Upper House, or House of Peers consisted of members of the Imperial Family, hereditary peerage and members appointed by the Emperor. The Lower House, or House of Representatives was elected by direct male suffrage, with qualifications based on amount of tax which was 15 yen or more – these qualifications were loosened in 1900 and 1919 with universal adult male suffrage introduced in 1925. [16] Legislative authority was shared with the Diet, and both the Emperor and the Diet had to agree in order for a measure to become law. On the other hand, the Diet was given the authority to initiate legislation, approve all laws, and approve the budget.

    Amendments to the constitution were provided for by Article 73. This stipulated that, to become law, a proposed amendment had to be submitted first to the Diet by the Emperor through an imperial order or rescript. To be approved by the Diet, an amendment had to be adopted in both chambers by a two-thirds majority of the total number of members of each (rather than merely two-thirds of the total number of votes cast). Once it had been approved by the Diet, an amendment was then promulgated into law by the Emperor, who had an absolute right of veto. No amendment to the constitution was permitted during the time of a regency. Despite these provisions, no amendments were made to the imperial constitution from the time it was adopted until its demise in 1947. When the Meiji Constitution was replaced, in order to ensure legal continuity, its successor was adopted in the form of a constitutional amendment.

    However, according to Article 73 of the Meiji Constitution, the amendment should be authorized by the Emperor. Indeed, the 1947 Constitution was authorized by the Emperor (as was declared in the letter of promulgation), which is in apparent conflict of the 1947 Constitution, according to which that constitution was made and authorized by the nation ("the principle of popular sovereignty"). To dissipate such inconsistencies, some peculiar doctrine of "August Revolution" was proposed by Toshiyoshi Miyazawa of the University of Tokyo, but without much persuasiveness.

    The constitutional movement

    In late Tokugawa days it was widely believed that constitutions provided much of the unity that gave Western countries their strength, and the Japanese leaders were eager to bring themselves abreast of the world in this respect. The government tried to implement a two-chamber house in 1868, but it was deemed unworkable. The emperor’s Charter Oath of April 6, 1868, however, committed the government to seek knowledge and wisdom throughout the world, abandon “evil customs of the past,” allow all subjects to fulfill their proper aspirations, and determine government decisions by reference to a broadly based opinion.

    To these statements of intent were added protests from below. The democratic movement grew out of a split in the leadership group over government policy in domestic and foreign matters. Itagaki Taisuke, Gotō Shōjirō, and other leaders of the Tosa faction combined with Etō Shimpei and others of the Saga fief in 1873. Their demands for a punitive expedition against Korea had been refused because domestic reforms were to come first, and they resigned their positions. The same debate had cost the government the services of Saigō Takamori, who retired to Satsuma prior to leading the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877. Instead of championing the old order, however, Itagaki and his friends called for a popular assembly so that future decisions would reflect the will of the people (by which they initially meant their fellow samurai) and thus preserve unity. Some of those who joined the group were more angry than democratic Etō Shimpei was killed after leading a group of Saga followers in revolt in 1874. Itagaki and his Tosa followers organized themselves into discussion groups and, gradually growing in political confidence and ability, organized themselves on a national basis as the Liberal Party (Jiyūtō) in 1881. It should be noted that the movement had only a narrow social and regional base at this time and that its purposes were to promote effective national unity rather than tolerance of diversity and dissent.

    New divisions within the narrowing leadership group brought a second political party into the field. When the remaining Meiji leaders were asked to submit their opinions on constitutional problems in 1881, Ōkuma Shigenobu, a Saga leader who had sided with the peace party in 1873, published a relatively liberal response instead of first submitting it for the scrutiny of his colleagues. Shortly after he did this, he revealed sensational evidence of corruption in the sale of government property in Hokkaido. Ōkuma was forced out of the government, after which he organized the Progressive Party ( Kaishintō) in 1882. Itagaki’s Liberal Party had a predominantly rural backing of former samurai and village leaders, many of whom objected to government taxation policies. Ōkuma’s new party had a more urban base and attracted support from the business community and journalists.

    The government, stung by Ōkuma’s defection, countered with a promise by the emperor that a constitution would be instituted in 1889 the populace—by which was meant the parties—were urged to await the imperial decisions quietly. The constitution was prepared behind the scenes by a commission headed by Itō Hirobumi. The period of constitution writing coincided with one of intense economic distress as the government sought to stem the inflation caused by the spending of the 1870s. Finance Minister Matsukata Masayoshi’s policies succeeded in this purpose, but his deflationary measures caused hardship in the countryside and provided a situation in which party agitation could lead to violence. The government responded with repression in the form of police and press controls, and the parties dissolved temporarily in 1884. Itagaki and Gotō traveled to Europe and returned convinced that the West must be addressed with a single national voice.

    Itō embarked on a separate mission to Europe to draw on Western models for the new constitution. The German Empire provided what he deemed to be an effective balance of imperial power and constitutional forms. The system that had been crafted by Otto von Bismarck seemed to offer the benefits of modernity without sacrificing effective control, and several German jurists assisted Itō and his commission. As a counterweight to the influence of a popularly elected house, Itō organized a new European-style peerage in 1884. Former daimyo, government officials, and military officers were given noble titles and prepared for membership in a House of Peers. A cabinet system was installed in 1885, and a privy council, designed to judge and safeguard the constitution, was set up in 1888. Itō resigned as premier to head the council and thus saw his document safely through.

    The Meiji Constitution was formally promulgated in1889. Elections for the lower house were held to prepare for the initial Diet, which first met in 1890. The constitution was presented as a gift from the emperor, and it could be amended only upon imperial initiative. Rights were granted “except as regulated by law,” and the constitution’s provisions were more general than specific. As in the Prussian system, if the Diet refused to approve a budget, the previous year’s could be followed. The emperor was “sacred and inviolable” he held the power to make war and peace and could dissolve the lower house at will. Political power effectively rested with the executive, which could claim to represent the imperial will. The Imperial Rescript on Education (Kyōiku Chokugo) of 1890 ensured that future generations would unquestioningly defer to imperial will and authority.

    In spite of these and other antidemocratic features, the Meiji Constitution opened a wider avenue for dissent than had previously existed. The lower house had the power to initiate legislation, private property was inviolate, and freedoms that were subject to legislation were greater than no freedoms at all. Budgetary arrangements meant that increased support for the military was dependent on Diet approval. A tax qualification of 15 yen initially limited the electorate to about 500,000. This qualification was lowered in 1900 and again in 1920, and in 1925 universal manhood suffrage was implemented. The difficulty the government leaders had in controlling and manipulating the lower house, despite their power of dissolution and their resources for coercion, illustrated the manner in which the constitution had altered the political picture. In turn, the way the party leaders cooperated with their erstwhile enemies when given a reasonable amount of prestige and patronage illustrated what large areas of agreement they shared with the Meiji oligarchies.

    With the promulgation of the constitution, the Meiji Restoration and revolution came to an end. Thereafter, the government leaders, who would soon retire behind the scenes to influence the political world as genrō (“elder statesmen”), acted to maintain and conserve the balance of ideological and political institutions they had worked out.

    Protestants in Japan

    Presbyterian minister Divie Bethune McCartee was the first Protestant Christian missionary to visit Japan, in 1861–1862. His gospel tract translated into Japanese was the first Protestant literature in Japan. In 1865 McCartee moved back to Ningbo, China, but others have followed in his footsteps.

    There was a burst of growth of Christianity in the late 1800s when Japan re-opened its doors to the West. However, this was followed by renewed suspicion and rejection of Christian teaching. Protestant church growth slowed dramatically in the early 20th century under the influence of the military government during the Shōwa period.

    The post-World War II years have seen increasing activity by evangelicals, initially with American influence, and some growth occurred between 1945 and 1960.

    The Japanese Bible Society was established in 1937 with the help of National Bible Society of Scotland (NBSS, now called the Scottish Bible Society), the American Bible Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society.

    By some estimates, there are 3,000 Protestant churches in Tokyo and 7,700 Protestant churches in Japan.

    7. Christianity and the loss of traditional values. The decline of Rome dovetailed with the spread of Christianity, and some have argued that the rise of a new faith helped contribute to the empire’s fall. The Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in 313, and it later became the state religion in 380.

    Following the Meiji Restoration, freedom of religion was promulgated and the number of Japanese Christians has been slowly increasing again. Today, about one to two million Japanese are Christians (about one percent of Japan’s population), and churches can be found across the country.

    Meiji Period (1868 - 1912)

    In 1867/68, the Tokugawa era found an end in the Meiji Restoration . The emperor Meiji was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo which became the new capital his imperial power was restored. The actual political power was transferred from the Tokugawa Bakufu into the hands of a small group of nobles and former samurai.

    Like other subjugated Asian nations, the Japanese were forced to sign unequal treaties with Western powers. These treaties granted the Westerners one-sided economical and legal advantages in Japan. In order to regain independence from the Europeans and Americans and establish herself as a respected nation in the world, Meiji Japan was determined to close the gap to the Western powers economically and militarily. Drastic reforms were carried out in practically all areas.

    The new government aimed to make Japan a democratic state with equality among all its people. The boundaries between the social classes of Tokugawa Japan were gradually broken down. Consequently, the samurai were the big losers of those social reforms since they lost all their privileges. The reforms also included the establishment of human rights such as religious freedom in 1873.

    In order to stabilize the new government, the former feudal lords (daimyo) had to return all their lands to the emperor. This was achieved already in 1870 and followed by the restructuring of the country in prefectures.

    The education system was reformed after the French and later after the German system. Among those reforms was the introduction of compulsory education.

    After about one to two decades of intensive westernization, a revival of conservative and nationalistic feelings took place: principles of Confucianism and Shinto including the worship of the emperor were increasingly emphasized and taught at educational institutions.

    Catching up on the military sector was, of course, a high priority for Japan in an era of European and American imperialism. Universal conscription was introduced, and a new army modelled after the Prussian force, and a navy after the British one were established.

    In order to transform the agrarian economy of Tokugawa Japan into a developed industrial one, many Japanese scholars were sent abroad to study Western science and languages, while foreign experts taught in Japan. The transportation and communication networks were improved by means of large governmental investments. The government also directly supported the prospering of businesses and industries, especially the large and powerful family businesses called zaibatsu.

    The large expenditures led to a financial crisis in the middle of the 1880's which was followed by a reform of the currency system and the establishment of the Bank of Japan. The textile industry grew fastest and remained the largest Japanese industry until WW2. Work conditions in the early factories were very bad, but developing socialist and liberal movements were soon suppressed by the ruling clique.

    On the political sector, Japan received its first European style constitution in 1889. A parliament, the Diet was established while the emperor kept sovereignty: he stood at the top of the army, navy, executive and legislative power. The ruling clique, however, kept on holding the actual power, and the able and intelligent emperor Meiji agreed with most of their actions. Political parties did not yet gain real power due to the lack of unity among their members.

    Conflicts of interests in Korea between China and Japan led to the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95. Japan defeated China, received Taiwan, but was forced by Russia, France and Germany to return other territories. The so called Triple Intervention caused the Japanese army and navy to intensify their rearmament.

    New conflicts of interests in Korea and Manchuria, this time between Russia and Japan, led to the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05. The Japanese army also won this war gaining territory and finally some international respect. Japan further increased her influence on Korea and annexed her completely in 1910. In Japan, the war successes caused nationalism to increase even more, and other Asian nations also started to develop national self confidence.

    In 1912 emperor Meiji died, and the era of the ruling clique of elder statesmen (genro) was about to end.

    Was Christianity legalized during the Meiji Restoration? - History

    Those people who wanted to end Tokugawa rule did not envision a new government or a new society they merely sought the transfer of power from Edo to Kyoto while retaining all their feudal prerogatives. Instead, a profound change took place. The emperor emerged as a national symbol of unity in the midst of reforms that were much more radical than had been envisioned.

    The first reform was the promulgation of the Charter Oath in 1868, a general statement of the aims of the Meiji 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, freedom of social and occupational mobility, replacement of "evil customs" with the "just laws of nature," and an international search for knowledge to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule. Implicit in the Charter Oath was an end to exclusive political rule by the bakufu and a move toward more democratic participation in government. To implement the Charter Oath, an eleven-article constitution was drawn up. Besides providing for a new Council of State, legislative bodies, and systems of ranks for nobles and officials, it limited office tenure to four years, allowed public balloting, provided for a new taxation system, and ordered new local administrative rules.

    The Meiji government assured the foreign powers that it would abide by the old treaties negotiated by the bakufu and announced that it would act in accordance with international law. Mutsuhito, who was to reign until 1912, selected a new reign title- -Meiji, or Enlightened Rule--to mark the beginning of a new era in Japanese history. To further dramatize the new order, the capital was relocated from Kyoto, where it had been situated since 794, to Tokyo (Eastern Capital), the new name for Edo. In a move critical for the consolidation of the new regime, most daimyo voluntarily surrendered their land and census records to the emperor, symbolizing that the land and people were under the emperor's jurisdiction. Confirmed in their hereditary positions, the daimyo became governors, and the central government assumed their administrative expenses and paid samurai stipends. The han were replaced with prefectures in 1871, and authority continued to flow to the national government. Officials from the favored former han, such as Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, and Hizen, staffed the new ministries. Formerly out-of-favor court nobles and lower-ranking but more radical samurai replaced bakufu appointees, daimyo, and old court nobles as a new ruling class appeared.

    Inasmuch as the Meiji Restoration had sought to return the emperor to a preeminent position, efforts were made to establish a Shinto-oriented state much like the state of 1,000 years earlier. An Office of Shinto Worship was established, ranking even above the Council of State in importance. The kokutai ideas of the Mito school were embraced, and the divine ancestry of the imperial house was emphasized. The government supported Shinto teachers, a small but important move. Although the Office of Shinto Worship was demoted in 1872, by 1877 the Home Ministry controlled all Shinto shrines and certain Shinto sects were given state recognition. Shinto was at last released from Buddhist administration and its properties restored. Although Buddhism suffered from state sponsorship of Shinto, it had its own resurgence. Christianity was also legalized, and Confucianism remained an important ethical doctrine. Increasingly, however, Japanese thinkers identified with Western ideology and methods.

    The Meiji oligarchy, as the new ruling class is known to historians, was a privileged clique that exercised imperial power, sometimes despotically. 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 Okubo Toshimichi (1832-78), son of a Satsuma retainer, and Satsuma samurai Saigo Takamori (1827-77), who had joined forces with Choshu, Tosa, and Hizen to overthrow the Tokugawa. Okubo became minister of finance and Saigo a field marshal both were imperial councillors. Kido Koin (1833- 77), a native of Choshu, student of Yoshida Shoin, and coconspirator with Okubo and Saigo, 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 Okuma 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 Tokugawa class system through a series of economic and social reforms. Bakufu 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.

    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 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 daimyo became nobility, the samurai became gentry, and all others became commoners. Daimyo 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.

    Additionally, between 1871 and 1873, a series of land and tax laws were enacted as the basis for modern fiscal policy. Private ownership was legalized, deeds were issued, and lands were assessed at fair market value with taxes paid in cash rather than in kind as in pre-Meiji days and at slightly lower rates.

    Undeterred by opposition, the Meiji leaders continued to modernize the nation through government-sponsored telegraph cable links to all major Japanese cities and the Asian mainland and construction of railroads, shipyards, munitions factories, mines, textile manufacturing facilities, factories, and experimental agriculture stations. Much concerned about national security, the leaders made significant efforts at military modernization, which included establishing a small standing army, a large reserve system, and compulsory militia service for all men. Foreign military systems were studied, foreign advisers were brought in, and Japanese cadets sent abroad to European and United States military and naval schools.

    Watch the video: Feature History - Meiji Restoration