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Meiji Restoration. Factors leading to the Restoration Achievements of the Restoration. Problems of the Bakufu prior to 1853. Financial distress Agriculture Taxation by the Shogun Drought and epidemics Natural disasters

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Meiji restoration

Meiji Restoration

Factors leading to the Restoration

Achievements of the Restoration

Problems of the bakufu prior to 1853
Problems of the Bakufu prior to 1853

  • Financial distress

    • Agriculture

    • Taxation by the Shogun

    • Drought and epidemics

    • Natural disasters

  • Discontentment of the Samurai class who resented the growing power of the merchants

    • Oshio Rebellion of 1833

  • Call for reforms

  • Emerging power of the Choshu, Tosa Hizen and Satsuma the traditionally rebel domains

Choshu and satsuma
Choshu and Satsuma

  • Both were rebel domains but were fortunate to have fewer fiscal problems

  • Development of a class of samurais who farmed the land and so there were fewer peasant uprisings

  • Both these domains had a budget surplus, flourishing economy and trade

  • In both the domains there were reform minded daimyo

Intellectual ferment
Intellectual ferment

  • Despite the closing off of Japan, the Dutch Learning ( Rangaku) continued

  • The Bakufu while it followed a closed door policy to trade, set up a bureau to translate Dutch texts.

  • Dutch texts were translated and ideas were used

  • The knowledge in sciences astronomy maths and medicine continued to grow in Japan even though it was closed off.

  • At the same time in response to the growing tensions the school of Kokugaku ( national revival) emerged


  • Japanese scholars like Sakuma Shozan conducted experiments in Chemistry and glass making

  • He believed in Eastern Ethics and Western Science

  • His ideas became a slogan for the Meiji Restoration though he was murdered in 1864

Opening of japan
Opening of Japan

  • Result of an armed mission by Commodore Perry of the USA in 1853

  • The treaties that resulted undermined the Bakufu but paved the way for the Meiji Restoration

  • The Bakufu sought the help of the Daimyo but instead of supporting or rallying around the Bakufu it led to calls for its end.

  • Sonno Joi = revere the Emperor and expel the barbarian

Treaty of kanagawa
Treaty of Kanagawa


  • Shimoda and Hakodate opened to US ships. This was followed by the opening of other ports

  • US Consul sent to Japan: Townsend Harris

  • Similar agreements with the Dutch and Russians, and then the British and the French followed

  • Japan’s situation identical to that of China under the unequal treaty system

  • The treaties gave the foreigners the right to extra territoriality and also the MFN status

Domestic politics
Domestic Politics

  • Troubled times for the Bakufu

  • In 1858 a succession dispute broke out

  • The underage heir had the support of the Daimyo and the rival Tokugawa candidate was the son of the powerful daimyo of Mito

  • A regency was formed under the leadership of Ii Naosuke who tried to strengthen the now discredited bakufu

  • In 1860 Ii Naosuke assassinated by the Sonno Joi faction

Sonno joi
Sonno Joi

  • Lord Mito strongly anti western

  • Advocated a military policy to expel the barbarians

  • One of the strongest spokesman was a young Choshu Samurai Yoshida Shoin

  • He attracted a number of young men who would later become the leaders of the Meiji Restoration

    • Kido Koin, Ito Hirobumi, Yamagata Aritomo

  • Yoshida blamed the Bakufu for its inability to reject the unequal treaties

    • He was convinced that the Bakufu must be overthrown

  • Plotted against the Bakufu, was arrested and beheaded in 1859.

Kaikoku joi
Kaikoku Joi

  • While there was one group that objected to western ideas or anything western there was another group that was determined to learn from the west and then use that knowledge to defeat the foreigner.

  • Their slogan was kaikoku joi= open the country to drive out the barbarians

  • Even in the bakufu there was a willingness to learn western ideas

  • Daimyo sent their men abroad ( often illegally) to study

  • The intention was to hold on to the bakufu and support it to create a more modern state but this failed.