Today in World History: July 25th

The Meiji Restoration, in which power in Japan transferred back to the Emperor from the Shogun, continued on this day in 1869 as the daimyo, or the vassals of the Emperor, began returning their lands. Part of the movement to reform the country’s dated political, military, and administrative systems by Emperor Meiji, it was brought on by the sudden interest in Japan by major powers such as Russia, Britain, and the United States. Because Japan had been closed to the outside world for centuries, its scientific abilities had fallen behind the other powers of the world, resulting in embarrassing defeats for the Japanese military, as well as their helplessness to stop Commodore Matthew Perry and others like him, demanding unfair trade agreements, placing Japan at a great disadvantage. Before the Meiji Restoration, the Shogun, or the military leader of Japan, held the power, with the Emperor a mere puppet of the Shogun. Following Meiji’s rule, the rapid development of Japan led to the increased industrialism that led to Japan’s rise to power in the Pacific, as they eventually defeated Russia in battle in the beginning of the 20th century. This rise of imperialism in Japan led to the rise of the regime that would eventually lead Japan to battles in the Pacific, and Japan’s membership in the Axis Powers. The defeat of Japan in World War Two finished Japan’s Westernization, as it brought Japan into the Modern Era, establishing a democracy, and building a technology sector of the country’s economy that would lead the world in innovation.

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