The Consolidation of the Meiji State and the Growth of Political Opposition, 1878–90
By 1878 the Meiji government had achieved many of its initial objectives. At home it had destroyed local autonomy, rid itself of the burden of an obsolete military class, established (and successfully tested) a new-style army, introduced a more dependable tax system, and weathered the storms which its actions had stirred up. In its relations with foreign countries it had repudiated the xenophobic attitudes of many of its original samurai supporters and had avoided further foreign intervention. The only risk it took was to continue the harsh treatment of the several thousand indigenous Christians near Nagasaki who had in 1865 been discovered to have preserved much of their faith since the seventeenth century. The Franco-Prussian war, however, removed any danger that France might respond to the Catholic missionaries’ appeals, and in 1873 the anti-Christian placards were removed. Although formal religious toleration was not granted until the next decade, the persecution was effectively ended.
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