The Role Of The Emperor In Meiji Japan



Japan is a society whose culture is steeped in the traditions and
symbols of the past: Mt. Fuji, the tea ceremony, and the sacred objects of
nature revered in Shintoism. Two of the most important traditions and symbols in
Japan; the Emperor and Confucianism have endured through Shogunates,
restorations of imperial rule, and up to present day. The leaders of the Meiji
Restoration used these traditions to gain control over Japan and further their
goals of modernization. The Meiji leaders used the symbolism of the Emperor to
add legitimacy to their government, by claiming that they were ruling under the
"Imperial Will." They also used Confucianism to maintain order and force the
Japanese ...

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of the Gods and even today he is thought of as the High Priest of
Shinto. Despite the powerful myths surrounding Japan's imperial institution the
Emperor has enjoyed only figure head status from 1176 on. At some points during
this time the Emperor was reduced to selling calligraphy on the streets of Kyoto
to support the imperial household, but usually the Emperor received money based
on the kindness of the Shogunate.Footnote2 But despite this obvious power
imbalance even the Tokugawa Shogun was at least symbolically below the Emperor
in status and he claimed to rule so he could carry out the Imperial
rule.Footnote3
Within this historical context the Meiji leaders realized that they
needed to harness the concept of the Imperial Will in order to govern
effectively. In the years leading up to 1868 members of the Satsuma and Choshu
clans were part of the imperialist opposition. This opposition claimed that the
only way that Japan could survive the encroachment of the ...

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by the son of a lord who was a champion of Japanese
historical studies and who agreed with the imperialists claims about restoring
the Emperor.Footnote7 So in 1868 the new shogun handed over all his power to the
Emperor in Kyoto. Shortly after handing over power to the Emperor, the Emperor
Komeo died and was replaced by his son who became the Meiji Emperor.Footnote8
Because the Meiji Emperor was only 15 all the power of the new restored Emperor
fell not in his hands but instead in the hands of his close advisors. These
advisers such as Prince Saionji, Prince Konroe, and members of the Satsuma and
Choshu clans who had been members of the imperialist movement eventually wound
up involving ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 12/4/2004 03:38:32 AM
Category: Government
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 3763
Pages: 14

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