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What if the Meiji restoration never happened?

 
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1337_samurai
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:13 am    Post subject: What if the Meiji restoration never happened? Reply with quote
This was something that popped into my head and I was wondering about it. Now regarding the human condition and the concept of technological progression, we all know the introduction of firearms and gun powder is what started the wheels of modernization in Japan.

Later the Meiji restoration jump started Japan's industrial revolution and from there they developed and modernized faster then some of the other industrial giants on the globe. After the second world war they were still slightly ahead of the game too until Amarica gave them the microprocessor.

However what if the Meiji restoration never took place and Japan was still in the days of the samurai? Would Japan still have an industrial revolution, if so how much longer would it have taken for them to achieve it? Would they even have one at all? To summarize, how would their history be different?

This is going into theoretical territory, I know but I just wanted to put it out there for people to contemplate.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Modernization would have happened anyway, perhaps at a different pace without the militarization, but it would have been economic necessity well before 1900. Had the pressures of potential colonization threat been felt less keenly, prompting the almost overnight transformation into a formidable military machine, the Japanese might have modernized at a pace more akin to the Thailand or Malaysia we see today.

I have frequently entertained myself in idle moments on the train by imagining a modern day Japan that is still ruled by the (eighteenth!) Tokugawa Shogun, complete with stratified occupational classes and governed by modern-day samurai. It's fun to imagine how they might dress, travel, even perform the ritual migration of sankin kotai in a modern setting. What would be important to them? How would they spend their tiime? Where would Japanese culture be today as a result? Lots of fun.

See you in Edo--my private Shinkansen just pulled in! Wink

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Had the Meiji Restoration not occurred that implies that the Tokugawa would have been successful in maintaining their hold on power. Who knows how they would have achieved that. More power sharing with the domains? Militarily defeating the domains and creating somewhat of a dictatorship? In any case, as Owarikenshi stated, the modernization and industrial revolution would have occurred anyway under the Tokugawa. They were already opening up to the world as we know and the Tokugawa were also attempting to modernize their military and industry. The threat of foreign subjugation of Japan was real and therefore the Tokugawa would have moved as quickly as possible to modernize the economy, industry, and military.

It's possible the samurai would have endured for a while longer but how long could even a strong Tokugawa government maintain the different classes in Japan, especially when the majority of the people work to support the top samurai class.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I am skeptical of your premise that gunpowder launched everything. The Sengoku would have ended one way or another, with or without the introduction of gunpowder; or, to put it a different way, Sengoku ended, and ended the way it did, due to a myriad of factors, not just the influence of the introduction of gunpowder. History is, with very few exceptions, extremely complex.

..

In my estimation, IMHO, it was the end of Sengoku and the settling in of peace and of a political unification of the archipelago that allowed for the economic developments which came afterward. The maritime restrictions which prevented Japan from being overwhelmed by foreign influences, and from becoming puppets to foreign interests, helped.

Peace and political unity allowed for travel and trade to an extent beyond what was ever possible before. Roads such as the Tokaido boomed with travelers and traveling merchants, and post-towns flourished. Cities grew, and the merchant class rose, leading to the development of cottage industries, and developments representing early forms of banks, paper money, and stocks or "futures".

By the Meiji period, the groundwork was already laid for industrialization. Japan may not have had steam engines, to take just one example, prior to the bakumatsu, but the Japanese had some of the largest cities in the world, quite possibly the largest publishing industry and extremely high literacy rates; they had schools and corporations, telescopes and clocks, lending libraries, banks, merchant guilds, and a complex, mature tradition of political theory.

Adopting and adapting Western methods may have meant dramatic changes, but they were hardly starting from zero.

The issue of whether or not the shogunate's political control and the systems in place could have held is a complex one and I don't have an answer for it. But, if we wanted to postulate that somehow, the shogunate remained in power, and Tokugawa Japan were allowed to continue to develop along its previous trajectory... If domestic political issues and foreign influences were to be put on pause so to speak, unchanging and not bringing any crises, I do think that Tokugawa Japan was very much so already on a track of urbanization, industrialization, commercialization, and modernization on its own.

Alternatively, if the shogunate somehow transformed into a more modern government, rather than falling and being replaced by that modern government, I think things could still have developed very much the way they did in reality; a Tokugawa government could have Westernized and modernized just as a Satsuma-Choshu-dominated government did, without a revolution.

As for whether they would have taken quite the same path to militarism and expansionism is a whole other question... for which I honestly have no answer. ..
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:35 pm    Post subject: Re: What if the Meiji restoration never happened? Reply with quote
1337_samurai wrote:
This was something that popped into my head and I was wondering about it. Now regarding the human condition and the concept of technological progression, we all know the introduction of firearms and gun powder is what started the wheels of modernization in Japan.

Later the Meiji restoration jump started Japan's industrial revolution and from there they developed and modernized faster then some of the other industrial giants on the globe. After the second world war they were still slightly ahead of the game too until Amarica gave them the microprocessor.

However what if the Meiji restoration never took place and Japan was still in the days of the samurai? Would Japan still have an industrial revolution, if so how much longer would it have taken for them to achieve it? Would they even have one at all? To summarize, how would their history be different?

This is going into theoretical territory, I know but I just wanted to put it out there for people to contemplate.


There is has been no mention of the arrival of Perry and the black ships. I just happen to be reading The Autobiography of Fukuzawa Yukichi, and he mentions the effect that the view of the ships in 1853 had on the Japanese:

"It was not until (1853) that a steamship was seen for the first time; it was only in (1855) that we began to study navigation from the Dutch in Nagasaki; by 1860, the science was sufficiently understood to enable us to sail a ship across the Pacific. . . . without help from foreign experts. I think we can without undue pride boast before the world of this courage and skill."

Fukusawa started an intensive study of Dutch right after the ships came, then once he began studying English, he volunteered to go on the Karin-maru to San Francisco in 1860. He was just one of the ambitious samurai leaders who modernized Japan.

I think this says a lot about whether the Japanese would have been able to catch up with the West in technology with or without the Meiji Restoration in 1868, but I'm sure the change of government in the hands of young leaders who went on trips to Europe and America for fact finding trips made a big difference in the quick changes. In addition, the Japanese (as always) picked and chose what they saw as the best from various countries, adapted it and were careful to hold on to their traditions (after a time when everything Western was the rage). Fukusawa became one of the leading proponents of Western Technology with Eastern Philosophy.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:07 am    Post subject: Meiji Reply with quote
A Couple of interesting points would be would the occupation of Korea still have happened? ,Bearing in mind the Yi Dynasty and Tokugawa had a cordial relationship .

Also under the Tokugawa would the Sino/Russo War have taken place ?
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I think these things really depend on what other foreign powers did, and how international events developed.

Yes, the shogunate had a good relationship with Joseon Dynasty Korea (they don't seem to like the term 'Yi Dynasty' for some reason), and it was precisely the breakdown of those relations that nearly led to an invasion of Korea in the 1870s. After the shogunate fell, the Koreans felt that things had changed, that their "partner", so to speak, across the sea, that is, the shogunate, was no more, and that the old system of relations didn't hold any more. Certain parties within the new Meiji gov't saw this refusal to send tribute as an affront, and so the Seikanron happened.

If the shogunate hadn't fallen, Korea might have continued to send tribute, and this idea that "we need to attack them to punish them" would not have come into play.

Yet, still, the conflicts over Korea in the 1890s, and again in the 1900s (the Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War, respectively) happened, as I understand it, not because of who was in charge in Japan and what they wanted, but because of what was developing outside Japan, i.e. because of what other powers were doing.

There was a fear that Russia, or China, or Germany, or one of the other Western powers, was going to gain control of Korea, and that if this happened, it would pose a great threat to Japan. So, I think that no matter who was in charge in Japan - an unfallen shogunate, or a new Meiji gov't - the reaction, the feeling about this could have been very much the same. As for the outcome, well, that depends on whether our hypothetical unfallen shogunate bothered to adopt Western military technology as thoroughly and eagerly as the Meiji government did in reality.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:47 am    Post subject: Queen Min Reply with quote
yes also it was Queen Min who invited the Japanese into Korea under the guise of developing the country though really it was as back up against the Taewongun who was pro Chinese .

She (Min)was playing a dangerous game also flirting with the Russians than it gets strange she turns against Japan adopts a pro Chinese policy while the Taewongun turns to Japan to remove the queen .

From Japan's point of view Korea occupied by either China or Russia would be a huge threat to their own security .Given the weakness of the Joseon Dynasty caused by infighting its fair to assume events would have happened regardless of either Meiji/Tokugawa because of the growing threat of China,Russia and Western Powers .
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
Yes, the shogunate had a good relationship with Joseon Dynasty Korea (they don't seem to like the term 'Yi Dynasty' for some reason)


As a side note: I'm not sure who the "they" are that you are referring to, but common practice seems to be to use the names of the states along the Korean Penninsula as the period names, rather than the names of the ruling dynasties. That may be what you are noticing; rather like the "Tang Dynasty" was actually the Li dynasty, but China referred to itself as "Da Tang".

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
I think these things really depend on what other foreign powers did, and how international events developed.

As for the outcome, well, that depends on whether our hypothetical unfallen shogunate bothered to adopt Western military technology as thoroughly and eagerly as the Meiji government did in reality.
As far as I could tell from Totman's coverage of the Keio Reform, it looked like the Shogunate was belatedly adopting a very similar outlook and strategy as that which the Meiji government eventually adopted. The thing that struck me (mainly from reading Shimazaki Toson's "Before the Dawn" and accounts elsewhere of popular uprisings) was the upheaval that the changeover caused in the countryside, i.e., the turnover of officials, the disenfranchisement of commoners in their traditional roles with no recourse to their ancestral routes of redress, etc. I imagine this aspect, which accounted for many uprisings, would not have been as pronounced as it was in the early Meiji period and perhaps would have had a concomitant effect on the great samurai rebellions of the 1870's. Just a thought, anyway.

Afterthought: since the Shogunate was pretty broke by the 1860's, it seems they would've had to come up with funds for their reforms and upgrades somehow if they were to modernize. The Shogunate's offer of land in Ezo in exchange for foreign support (can't remember offhand the details here) would speak to a potentially damaging colonialism factor that could come into play if the Shogunate didn't produce other income.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
I'm not sure who the "they" are that you are referring to, but common practice seems to be to use the names of the states along the Korean Penninsula as the period names, rather than the names of the ruling dynasties.


I have had interactions with Koreans (or people speaking for the Korean point of view) on Wikipedia, who have strongly expressed that the term "Yi Dynasty", or 李朝, is for some reason offensive, and that the preferred term is Joseon, or Joseon Dynasty. Personally, I find this bizarre, given that the Japanese called Korea "Joseon" (Chôsen, 朝鮮) when it was colonized, and so you'd think it would be *that* term that would have negative connotations.

Also, the idea that "during the Joseon dynasty" really means anything when Joseon extended from the 14th to the end of the 19th century, covering massive changes and developments over a 500 year period, seems quite strange to me in any case....
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 2:02 pm    Post subject: Yi Dynasty Reply with quote
Just to add most Korean's i have known never use the term Yi Dynasty although many western authors do .
But Koreans themselves always use Joseon or Choson Dynasty .
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
One thing that is pretty clear to me is that the events/path of Japan once the Meiji period began, the changes that did occur was swift and would hard to find another 50 year period that had more changes in the history of Japan that this 50 period. This period, Japan kept full autonomy as a nation and clearly became the dominant nation in the Far East.
I doubt if the Shogunate remained by crushing the Choshu domain, and then Satsuma and even Tosa, those activities would have decreased national solidarity and would have served as weakness that the Western nations could exploit.

The Choshu domain had lingering resentment to the Tokugawa Shogunate from Sekigahara after the Mori's was reduced from 1.2 million koku to 369k koku.
The Choshu were a large threat to the Tokugawa and would have been taken out. Satsuma was the swing vote (as Kabayakawa Hideaki was at Sekigahara) in who would win between the Tokugawa and Choshu.
Satsuma seen that if the Choshu were taken out, there was a good chance the Shogunate would then turn their energy to get rid of Satsuma in their attempt to remain in control.

The Shogunate with so much concern of survival had a hard time worrying about defending the nation against Western nations, a good example is disbanding the Kobe Navel school headed up by Katsu Kaishu, which at the time was a top priority of the nation. Taking leadership role of Katsu Kaishu would have been a better strategic decision by the Shogunate if building up the nation's Naval capabilities was actually a priority of theirs.

My views are that if the Shogunate had not been disbanded, it would be hard pressed to equal what transpired in Japan's progress as a nation, and a good chance it would have been much worse in that the nation would have been targeted for colonization due to the internal strife in their quest to remain in control.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I think history didn't change very much since Bakufu was Kaikoku-ha in the beginning.
Sat-Cho were the ones who changed the code=Anti-foreigner, after Boshin war.

Probably the govern system was changed to Daimyo Council system like Yoshinobu
suggested.

As for the naming of Joseon, it seems China call "Yi dynasty" too.
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