Sunday, February 13th, 2005
Christopher Coonce-Ewing answers a question here
Japan did go from dynastic (the Tokugawa Shogunate) to Imperial, though the “empire” at the time of the Meiji restoration was only Japan. Japan, under Meiji was concerned with western powers encroaching upon them, as the British had done at the end of the Opium war with China. As such, Japan wanted to not only control their own territory but to establish their own imperial territories outside of Japan (Korea, parts of China) that would serve as a buffer zone to deter the west. After fighting the Russo-Japanese war in 1905, and winning, they were able to show the west that Japan was a force to be reckoned with.
So… yes. The Tokugawa rule was focused on Japan with an isolationist view. Meiji looked to the west to gain what they could from them and then strove to build their own empire.
Of course, there’s a lot more to this story of modern Japan. And I’m looking forward to probing for more especially given the “encroachment hypothesis” Chrstopher puts forth. But how did the daimyo’s lose their power and how did the consequences of this loss resurface before the Axis? Why was there a grasp for western social structures then a counter movement back to more conservative traditions? Cool stuff this.