Japan's Modern History, 1857-1937: A New Political Narrative (Hardback) book cover

Japan's Modern History, 1857-1937

A New Political Narrative

By Junji Banno

© 2014 – Routledge

258 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Over the course of the period 1857 to 1937 in Japan, six distinct stages can be identified as the country moved from Shogun rule and its subsequent overthrow, from industrialisation and investment to the Meiji Constitution and then from Taishō democracy to Shōwa fascism. In this book, Junji Banno stresses the mutual relationships between each period, and to this end renames then accordingly: the age of reform; age of revolution; age of construction; age of management; age of reorganisation; and age of crisis.

Following this model, the book covers eighty years of history in Japan, focusing on political history and foreign relations, with extensive material also on economic development and foreign influences on political institutions and practices. Based on extensive archival research, Japan’s Modern History considers synoptically the key trends and their significance over the period of 1857 to 1937. In turn, it presents in detail fascinating information on many of the main leaders and other significant figures, with extensive quotations from their writings, letters and diaries.

This book is a translation into English of a major work of scholarship by a leading historian of modern Japan, and may be considered the apex of Junji Banno’s work in the field. As such, it will be of great interest to students and scholars of both Japanese history and history more broadly.


"Very popular in Japan, the book is now available to a wider Western audience thanks to the smooth, expert translation by Stockwin. A great addition to any collection on modern Japanese history." - M. D. Ericson, University of Maryland University College

"Banno judiciously and with great insight tells the story of early attempts at reform, the dynamics of revolution, nation building, consolidation, reconstruction, and crisis leading to war. This survey of modern Japan is unlike most produced by Western scholars in that the author quotes liberally from contemporary archival sources—letters, diaries, writings, etc.—that illuminate personalities and events. The book contains some original parts, such as those concerning the role of Saigo Takamori in the Meiji Restoration, government policy on taxation and its impact on society and economy, the mentality and motivations of the young radical military officers in the 1930s, and the rise of the political left later in the 1930s. Very popular in Japan, the book is now available to a wider Western audience thanks to the smooth, expert translation by Stockwin. A great addition to any collection on modern Japanese history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. For all readers interested in the story of Japan."

M. D. Ericson, University of Maryland University College, CHOICE

Chosen as Outstanding Academic Title (OATs) by CHOICE Magazine for 2015

Table of Contents

1. Reform, 1857-1863 2. Revolution, 1863-1871 3. Construction, 1871-1880 4. Management, 1880-1893 5. Reorganisation, 1894-1924 6. Crisis, 1925-1937

About the Author

Junji Banno is Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University, Japan.

About the Series

Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General