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Meiji Restoration

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  • Essay length: 3623 words
  • Submitted: 09/02/2005
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AS and A Level UK, European & Global Economics

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Meiji Restoration

The Tokugawa shogunate or Tokugawa bakufu (a de facto central administration) was a feudal military dictatorship established in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Ieyasu who received the title of Sei-i-tai-shogun ("Great Barbarian Quelling General"). This was originally an imperial title bestowed on the commander of armed forces employed against the turbulent frontier tribes of the north, i.e., against the indigenous Ainu. Imprisoned in the Tokyo Imperial Palace and virtually under 'house arrest' the emperor was forced into a powerless de-jure role while the Shogunate conceived strategies to permanently retain their power. In an effort to isolate enemies and maintain rule, the Tokugawa initiated a process of land relocation where Han (domains) were divided into fuadi daimyo (friends-direct vassals) and tozama daimyo ('outside' daimyo).

One way of ensuring a static society was to reduce social mobility to a minium by rigidly separating the various classes of society and forbidding movement between them. A caste system developed comprising of daimyo (land lords) followed by, samurai (warriors), nomin (peasants), chonin (townspeople/ merchants) and eta (untouchables). The samurai had a hereditary superiority over the other three lower classes

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