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"The Meiji Constitution (1889) was a blend of many conflicting ideas." Discuss.

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Introduction

14. "The Meiji Constitution (1889) was a blend of many conflicting ideas." Discuss. It has been said that "the Meiji Constitution of 1889 was a blend of many conflicting ideas." This statement is true to a great extent as the Constitution contained a number of inconsistency and ambiguities. As a matter of fact, it was proclaimed with the intention of solving certain existing problems rather than giving Japan a liberal and democratic institution. It served as a symbol of progress: appeasement of those discontented and politically conscious; consolidation of power of Meiji oligarchs; a cover of democracy; stimulus of Japan's nationalism as well as a typical example of imitation of the West, all of which were conflicting in meaning to each other. The Meiji leaders adopted a utilitarian approach in drafting the Constitution and they tried to balance and reconcile these conflicting forces. In short, the Meiji Constitution was made with the aim of killing several birds with one stone. ...read more.

Middle

However, oligarchy formed a greater proportion in the blend as it was the underlying idea of the constitution. For the diet, though the House of Representatives were to be elected, the election was restricted to adults who paid national taxes of 15 yen or more, thus limiting to 1% of the population. Furthermore, the House of Peers and conservative check over the Lower House. The House of Peers was actually dominated by a few men and the idea of oligarchy was obvious. Again the cabinet was devised by Ito to replace the Council of State. Since the cabinet, composed of nine ministers and headed by the prime minister, was a strong executive power free from the supervision of the diet and was responsible to the Emperor directly, the oligarchs were given a consolidated base of power. Actually, the first cabinet was a roster of top oligarchs: Ito as the Prime Minister, Yamagata as the Home Minister, Matsukata as the Finance Minister, Mori as the Education Minister and so on. ...read more.

Conclusion

The constitution revealed the spirit of Shintoism which emphasized national unity and loyalty to the Emperor. Japanization seemed to blend equally with westernization. The constitution included an extensive series of popular rights of the West such as freedom of religion, speech, publication, public meetings and association. However, all these rights were useless whenever it seemed appropriate by the government. Therefore, in this blend of conflicting ideas, Japanization formed a greater proportion. Although the Meiji Constitution was a blend of many conflicting ideas, it was a success for several decades. The reason for its success lied in that: although the ideas themselves were contradictory, there was no common ground on which they clashed, as some ideas were only superficially meant and therefore given only the show of them, while other ideas were seriously meant. However, the Meiji Constitution must be a blend of conflicting ideas, it could not be purely progressive as Japan could not change herself overnight. A blend of conservatism and progressives was only the practical thing to do. ?? ?? ?? ?? 2 Subject: Meiji Japan 14 Subject: Meiji Japan 14 1 ...read more.

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