Brief History of Japan – Part 3

In the mid-nineteenth century, when Europe and the United States were already fully engaged in the industrial revolution, Japan was a feudal country ruled by an army (samurai) who had the power of life and death over the rest of society. In July 1853, an American squad led by Admiral Perry entered the Tokyo Bay. The Admiral proposed the Japanese government to sign a treaty that would authorize the United States to do business with the archipelago.

Perplexed before the sight of American cannons, the Shogun, for the first time in six centuries of military power, consulted the Emperor about the most convenient way to act. Without hesitation, he replied that they needed to expel the Americans. Unfortunately, the General didn’t have sufficient means to expel the Americans and he was forced to sign the treaty.

As a result to his disobedience to the Emperor, considered a living god by all Japanese, Tokugawa lost the trust of his people. He had to resign in order to allow a triumphant restoration of the imperial power. Young Mutsushito, better known as Emperor Meiji, found himself, being only 15 years of age, as the head of the country. The first thing he did as Emperor was to change the name of the capital from Edo to Tokyo (Capital of the East). Paradoxically, with the return of the Emperor to power, Japan would fully enter the modern world.

This post is the third part of my brief summary of the history of Japan: