Reforms and flexible political structures in Meiji Japan

Profound transformation followed Japan’s encounter with the West in the mid-1800s. Its political system changed - a representative assembly was created to publicly discuss national issues - and new national goals and strategies were agreed that focused on industrialisation and interaction with the West. 

This study analyses the transformation between the signing of commercial treaties with the West in 1858 and the settlement on the basic directions of political and economic reform in 1881. It examines how political leaders emerged and interacted in a constant reformation of alliances, and how a flexible structure of politics resulted in the steady achievement of political and economic reforms. Goals, alliances, leaders and leading groups evolved dynamically without solidifying into a simple hard structure or falling into uncontrollable chaos.

 

Researchers: Junji Banno and Kenichi Ohno (University of Tokyo)

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The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

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