What government and military reforms did the Meiji government adopt?
The Meiji Constitution's Fatal Flaw:
While the Meiji Constitution is an impressive achievement and laid the foundation for the most successful and rapid modernization in world history, it contained a flaw that would lead Japan into the fire of totalitarianism and total war a mere 60 years later. In the Meiji Constitution, the civilian government was not given ultimate command of the armed forces. This allowed the armed forces to act independently with no way for civilian politicians to stop them, invading Manchuria and launching the Second World War in Asia against the wishes of the Japanese Diet and the League of Nations.
Answer and Explanation:
The Meiji government adopted far more European governmental and military institutions than other countries which attempted to quickly modernize in the 19th century. While countries like China focused on the most obvious elements of Western dominance -- their weapons -- the Japanese leadership understood quickly that modern weapons were only one part of the effectiveness of modern states. Adopting a constitution based on the Prussian (later German) model with a strong monarch, democratic institutions, but a limited franchise, the leaders of the new Japan sought to transform their country and compete with the West. In the Iwakura Mission of 1871-3, a group of Japanese statesmen and scholars toured the leading states of the Western world and were struck most of all by their industrial capacity and effective institutions. Upon their return, the Meiji government undertook an unimaginably deep and rapid period of reform, destroying feudal privileges and instituting both a military structure and public school system based on the Prusso-German model. The government also undertook massive economic reforms, creating capital markets and pouring government money into rail and telegraph lines to connect the newly-modernizing country. The success of these measures was demonstrated in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5, in which the far more shallowly modernized Chinese state was comprehensively beaten by a nation it had previously considered beneath contempt.
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fromChapter 4 / Lesson 13
Read about the Meiji Restoration and its effects. Learn when the Meiji Restoration began, its main goal, what caused it, and how it changed Japan.