In the years from 1600 to 1930, Japan underwent three major shifts in political leadership: The Tokugawa period was followed by the era of the Meiji Restoration, and then, shortly before 1930, the nation saw the triumph of military ultranationalism over constitutional government.
In the years from 1600 to 1930, Japan underwent three major shifts in political leadership: The
The emperor and the
The next major period of change for Japan did not arrive until the mid-nineteenth century, when the appearance of
The Japanese artist Hiroshige portrayed a U.S. warship in Tokyo Harbor–probably part of Commodore Perry’s flotilla.
The shogunate’s inability to deal with the influence of Westerners, coupled with rising domestic distress, led to the end of the regime, and in 1867, backed by a military coup, the emperor proclaimed the
By constructing a new body politic around the notion of
Japan, c. 1615
By the end of the nineteenth century, Japan was transformed from a decentralized, largely agrarian land into a centralized, industrialized nation. The Japanese built trains, adopted Western-style facial hair and modes of dress, and allowed powerful business cartels called zaibatsus to control the flow of capital. They also came to understand that national defense would require expansion abroad. The Meiji government undertook two major campaigns in 1895 against the fledgling Qing government of China in the
By the 1920’s, Japan became embroiled in the global
Around 1600, the Japanese were focused first on defeating enemies militarily within their borders; by the nineteenth century, their focus was on challenging international rivals in several theaters in the Pacific Rim. The Tokugawa period was marked at first by a civil war that led to a struggle between members of the daimyo class as they fought to become the first unifier of Japan under the shogunate. After conquering his competitors at the
It was really not until the nineteenth century, after the “opening” of
These military and diplomatic achievements did not last, however, as Russia, backed by other Western powers, forced Japan to cede all of its mainland acquisitions back to Russia. By 1900, Japan had begun the drive toward greater power status by signing an alliance with Britain and going to war against Russia in 1904-1905. Russia’s holdings threatened Japanese interests in Korea, and when Russia refused to make concessions, Japan launched a surprise attack on Port Arthur. The
Japanese warships take Port Arthur during the bloodiest and most controversial battle of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895.
During World War I, Japan expanded both economically and diplomatically. By protecting sea lanes in the Pacific and mounting an offensive against the German-held Shandong Peninsula, Japan acquired a mandate over German-held islands in the region. Japan tried to impose its will on China through the
Following World War I, Japan spent most of the 1920’s expanding its military influence while at the same time playing an active role in the development of the world’s economy. By 1930, the Japanese military had begun a full-scale plan to take over all of Manchuria, eventually setting up the
Japanese military dress and weaponry in the pre-1868 period were highly personalized and unique for each of the individuals who served the shogun after 1614.
Young samurai rebels in training.
Japanese weaponry of this period began with the
The era of reorganization under the Meiji brought a host of major changes to Japanese military tactics along with changes in armor and weaponry. With the adoption of the European style of raising citizen armies through conscription, traditional armor became obsolete. Adopting rifled muskets, cannon, and other forms of technology such as the machine gun, Japan set itself on the path toward military dominance in the Pacific. A new
The organization of Japanese armies from 1600 to 1930 evolved from an elite fighting corps of
In the period from 1600 to 1930, Japanese military strategy can be divided into two major eras. The first, from 1600 to 1868, mainly centered on the
A woodcut depicting a rōnin (masterless samurai).
From 1868 to 1930, the Japanese military moved in a new direction in its uses of strategy and tactics. After the Meiji Restoration, Japanese modernizers traveled the globe and brought back to Japan the latest in military weapons and doctrine. The
All historical understanding of the Japanese samurai should begin with the seventeenth century text Hagakure (Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, 1979). This history, written by a samurai who converted to Buddhism, chronicles the ethical path that all warriors must follow. The story of the
No understanding of the impact of the Meiji era would be complete without a reading from either
Beasely, W. G. Japanese Imperialism, 1894-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009. Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, Anne Walthall, and James B. Palais. East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Jansen, Marius B. The Making of Modern Japan. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. Myers, Ramon, ed. The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987. Paine, S. C. M. The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Turnbull, Stephen. Osaka 1615: The Last Battle of the Samurai. New York: Osprey, 2006. Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire. Documentary. Public Broadcasting Service/Paramount, 2004. The Last Samurai. Feature film. Warner Bros., 2003. Letters from Iwo Jima. Feature film. Malpaso/Amblin, 2006. Nova: Secrets of the Samurai Sword. Documentary. Public Broadcasting Service/WGBH, 2008. The Seven Samurai. Feature film. Toho, 1954. Shogun. Feature film. Paramount Pictures, 1980.
World War II: Japan
The Ottoman Empire
The Mughal Empire
China: The Qing Empire