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Meiji Restoration

            The Meiji Revolution or "Restoration" is one of the single most important events in modern Japanese history. This "revolution" greatly affected the events of history within Japan as well as Japan's relations with outsiders. With seeds for the "restoration" brewing in the last years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Meiji Restoration ultimately exploded with changes that changed the character of the Japanese nation forever.
             Tokugawa rule is known as the Tokugawa shogunate. The shogun enforced the distinction between classes; the daimyo, the samurai, nobles at court, the peasants and the merchants. During the periods of peace under the Tokugawa shogunate the samurai had time to study. Many came to believe that a ruler only had the right to rule if he ruled in the interest of his people and the belief that people should gain there power not through birth, but through ability. These ideas worked against the shogunate, where people gained their position of power through birth. Some samurai argued that the emperor had the right to rule his people not the shogunate. Others had heard of the science from the west and were greatly eager to know more, but the shogun forebode any contact with the West. Because of this the samurai became restless and began to rebel against the shogun.
             It was becoming clear that Japan was ready for a change, but before having a chance to do so the western nations intervened. Wishing to trade with the Japanese, and use their ports, the United States decided to force their ports to western trade, as Japan was opposed to any such contact.
             When Commander Perry arrived with heavily armed ships in 1853, the shogunate had no choice but to accept treaties with foreigners. This caused trouble in Japan and the samurai began to rebel. Under the cry of the samurai "Honour the emperor; expel the barbarian" the Tokugawa shogunate lost control of Japan. Japan was transformed from a feudal to an industrial society.

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