Meiji Restoration: A Learning for Narendra Modi Government from Japan

Meiji Restoration: A Learning for Narendra Modi Government from Japan

Meiji Restoration : Japan, a small country in terms of territory and population is situated at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. The country which is considered as one of the developed countries of the world lacks many vital elements for economic development like oil, coal, iron and other raw materials. However, Japan has always risen above all the odds. It has registered itself as one the flourishing economies of the world. It must be noted that Japan rose from the ashes of World War II. A significant population of Japan was wiped out during World War II. Around 210,000 people lost their lives in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone.

Japan became second largest economy in the world after USA in 1968. However, before the World War II, Japan was a self-sufficient country and one of the superpowers of the world before the disaster of World War teared the country apart.

In 1868, the Tokugawa shogun, who ruled Japan in the feudal period lost his power and the emperor was restored as head of Japan. He took the name Meiji “enlightened rule”. The period there after is known as Meiji Restoration or Meiji Renovation. The power of Japan was restored back to imperial rule. The Meiji restoration of 1868 came to be identified as an era of major political, economic and social change. The period led to modernization and westernization of Japan.

The young leaders of restoration or the young samurai were motivated by growing domestic problems and threats of foreign encroachment. In 1968, when Meiji was restored as the head of Japan, the country was militarily weak, agriculture was the mainstay of the country with very less development in the field of technology. Country was indirectly controlled by hundred semi-independent feudal lords.

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Steps taken by Meiji Government

The action taken by Meiji government to settle the unsettled country was

  • Relocation of imperial capital from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed as Tokyo.
  • By 1871, all the feudal class privileges were abolished. The administrative domains were abolished and replaced by a prefecture system that remains in place even at present day.
  • National army was formed in 1871. The new government also carried out policies to unify the monetary and tax systems, with the agricultural tax reform of 1873.
  • In 1872, the new government introduced universal education in the country with emphasis on Western learning.

Economic and social changes became the main agenda of the government along with-it political transformation. The abolition of feudalism made possible tremendous social and political changes. Millions of people were suddenly free to choose their occupation and most above without restriction. The government also made possible investment in new industries and technologies.  Railways, shipping lines, telegraph and telephone systems were developed. Sugar, glass, textile, cement industries were developed.

The new government took a major step in 1880, it sold most the industries to private investors.  Constitution was introduced leading to creating of an elected parliament called the Diet. By the time when Meiji period ended in 1912, Japan had

  • A highly centralized, bureaucratic government, a constitution and an elected parliament.
  • Highly educated population free of feudal class restriction.
  • A well-developed network of transport and communication.
  • A powerful army and navy.

Japan After Meiji Period

In 1912, after the death of Meiji emperor, a new era, Taisho period started. During this period Japanese people started to voice more for their rights and representation in government. It must be noted that before the World War I, Japan enjoyed record breaking economic prosperity which led to creation of mass society. After Meiji Period, political parties increased their influence and became powerful enough to appoint their own Prime Ministers. However, after the end of World War I, Japan entered a severe economic depression. The military and government grew stronger and the parliament became weak. Trade was largely affected due to increasing disruption of trade. Japan need of natural resources was highly affected. The increasing military influence led to creation of aggressive Japan and then in 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.


The Meiji restoration was the Japan’s struggle for recognition and equality with the western nations. Japan successfully organized the modern state with its government where people had their influence. The industrialization led to creation of society as par the Western models. However, the west to curb the rise of Japan, reacted negatively. The colonial mentality and the racist ideology made them have trade restriction of natural resources to Japan. 

What Narendra Modi can Learn from Meiji Restoration?

Japan introduced Universal Education System in the year 1872. By the end of 1912, Japan had highly educated population. At present Japan has more than 99% of literacy rate. In India government should focus on increasing the education budget, rather than spending large portion of tax collection in distribution of freebies. A society becomes developed when its people are self-independent, however our government is focused on distributing freebies because it helps them win election. If Modi government can make a difference in education system bypassing the caste and religion barrier, India will become a developed country. Our nation has 69% literacy rate in 2019 and Japan was able to attain about 100% in 1872. Here I share a comparison between India and Japan’s educational changes:

Meiji Restoration

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Nitesh Singh

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