On January 3, 1868, the Japanese emperor came back into leadership. Led by a teenager named Mutsuhito, the Meiji Restoration took its place in Japanese history. The main policy of the restoration was to enrich the nation and strengthen the military. The following are the stages of the restoration:
- Economic Development: In the 1880s, the government began selling its industries to private owners. Companies well known today were some of the merchants who took over, Sumitomo and Mitsui being two of them. Mitsubishi started during this time too. It was during this time that businesses such as these grew very rich and very large – soon known as Zaibatsu.
- Most Zaibatsu were family groups who owned, operated and created other ventures within their original company. Examples of these are insurance, banking, international trade, manufacturing, and real estate. Although the Zaibatsu worked with the government to enrich the nation, they became very wealthy by enriching themselves too.
- Military Development: Stage two of the Meiji restoration was to develop a powerful military force. Within 20 years of power, they had created the best military force in East Asia.
- Political Development: Japan’s first constitution was introduced which outlined laws and regulations for citizens in Japan. Emperor became head of government with a cabinet of ministers and a legislature with two houses.
- Social Reform: People were now allowed to choose their own desired occupations. Men became head of the household which limited women’s rights more so than in the Tokugawa Period. The family became the basic unit of society.
- Educational Development: Finally, the government introduced a strong system in the public education field. Most schools were free which allowed people progress in society. This complimented the economic development which assisted in its success. A strong focus was placed on national pride in schools.