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Meiji Constitution Discussion, Essay Example

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Essay

Introduction

The Meiji Restoration is enshrined in the history of Japan.  This took place in the period 1868-1912 and brought an end to the feudal system in the country.  It was intended to bring Japan in line with the rest of the civilised world in terms of technology, culture/art, technology and political science.

Distinctive Features

The Meiji document consisted of two main parts: (1) The Charter Oath and (2)The Imperial Rescript. The document was designed to reinstate the power and position of the Emperor of Japan.  It was based upon a Prussian Model and consisted of some 76 articles in 7 Chapters (2500 words) and the Rescript in about 1,000 words.  The diagram to the right illustrates the hierarchical structure with the Emperor as supreme sovereign head of state.

From a democratic point of view the document  had great similarity to the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  The Charter Oath being similar to that of the Declaration of Independence. It was designed to cast distinction from the old feudal system and boost the morale of the people whilst establishing the power base and position of the Emperor (Meiji).  It provided the freedom for people to move amongst the social class systems, whereas under the feudal system that was not possible.  It differed from democracy in the sense that supreme power was vested in the hands of the Emperor.  As opposed to say the President of the United States that has a responsibility to Congress and in theory cannot take unilateral action without the approval of congress e.g. declaration of war.

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