History of Imperial Japan – Meiji Restoration and Wars

Between 1868 and 1947, after the fall of the feudal system (shogunate) and establishment of a new government, Japan became the biggest Asian power thanks to the industrialization and militarization of the country that put the Japanese in a position of sovereignty compared to the rest of the Asian continent.

During the conflicts fought with China during the Sino-Japanese wars, the invasions of Korea, Russo-Japanese War, World War I and the War in the Pacific Ocean, Japan achieved military success. However, the Imperial Japan went into decline after suffering several defeats during World War II which resulted in military weakening and defeat in World War II, leading to Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces in 1945.

After the surrender, Imperial Japan was dissolved in 1947 and the constitution in force at the time (Meiji Constitution) was replaced by the 1947 Constitution, giving rise to Modern Japan.

History of Imperial Japan - Meiji Restoration and Wars

Fall of the Shogunate and Meiji Restoration

After Emperor Meiji (1852 – 1912) ordered the dissolution of the Tokugawa Shogunate, samurai forces with the support of daimyos who were dissatisfied with the shogunate and along with the government that aimed to build economic relations with foreigners, the feudal military government that ruled Japan during six centuries finally dissolved, thus bringing a new era to the country with a model of constitutional government that brought a more democratic government to the Japanese people.

However, the opening of Japan to foreign trade was not peaceful even after the end of the shogunate, as there were still political forces that opposed the “Westernization” of Japan and the commercial relations established with foreigners.

However, as the years passed, Western influences on Japan's politics gave way to the idea of militarization and nationalist ideology that influenced Japanese society until the end of World War II.

History of Imperial Japan - Meiji Restoration and Wars

World War, Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese

Prior to World War I, Imperial Japan fought two significant wars following its establishment in the wake of the Meiji Revolution. The first was the First Sino-Japanese War (1894 – 1895). The war revolved around the issue of control and influence over Korea under the Joseon Dynasty, which resulted in the victory of the Japanese.

The second was the Russo-Japanese War (1904 – 1905) fought over the control of Korean lands that resulted in another victory for the Japanese empire.

Japan entered World War I in 1914, taking the opportunity of Germany's distraction from the European War to expand its sphere of influence in China and the Pacific. Along with England, France and the United States, Japan managed to win the First World War.

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