Japan was dragged into the modern world at gunpoint. In 1853 Commodore Perry broke two and a half centuries of Japan’s isolation by steaming his gunboats into Edo bay to request that Japan open its doors to the world. Between the Tokugawa’s reluctant acceptance and the Meiji coup of January 1868 that overthrew the old regime, Japan’s political élite was bitterly divided over how to overcome the Western challenge. A steadily diminishing faction argued that Japan should fight the Western powers; a steadily increasing faction argued that the only sensible path was to accept the humiliating initial loss of tariff and legal sovereignty while embarking on a modernization drive to overcome and eventually surpass the West on its own terms.
KeywordsLand Reform Japanese Firm Economic Miracle Labor Reform Japanese Industry
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