Among the revolutionary movements which shook the nineteenth-century world, the change of government in Japan in 1868 occupies a special place. A new, dynamic ruling class provoked the overthrow of the old rule of the shogun and in a few years the visible structure of feudal society disappeared. The founders of the new Meiji rule had themselves been warriors and thought they were able to resist foreign pressure, but very quickly they adopted western dress gave their country a modern army, built railways and contributed to establishing a great empire. The nature of this transformation has been regarded by western historians as "revolution" and "restoration" – two quite contradictory ideas. But in this book Paul Akamatsu clarifies the picture of the forces at work in this conversion of a backward feudal state into a modern power in a few decades.
Part 1: The Decline in Shogunal Power 1. Famine and Reform 2. Towards the Opening 3. Repression and Terrorism 4. The Noble Coalition Part 2: The Change in Régime 1. The Fall of the Bakufu 2. Meiji 3. Basic Trends Conclusion. Chronological Table. Glossary. Index.