The Strategies The Meiji Government Used to Achieve Economic Development?


The Meiji government during the 1880's created both an institutional
and constitution structure that allowed Japan in the coming decades to be a
stabile and industrializing country. Two major policies and strategies that
reinforced stability and economic modernization in Japan were the creation of a
national public education system and the ratification of the Meiji constitution.
Both these aided in stability and thus economic growth.
The creation of a national education system aided in creating stability
because it indoctrinated youth in the ideas of loyalty, patriotism, and
obedience. Japan's education system at first stressed free thought and the ideas
of individual's exploration of knowledge but by 1890 the education system of
Japan became a tool for indoctrination into what Peter Duus calls "a kind of
civil religion" with the Imperial Rescript on Education. This Rescript stressed
two things. First, it stressed loyalty to the emperor and to a lesser extant to
the state. In every classroom a picture of the emperor was placed. Second, the
education system stressed self sacrifice to the state and family. Filial piety
was taught in schools and applied not only to the family but also to the
national family which included father, teacher, official and employer. The
Japanese education system also created a system of technical schools and
universities both public and private that educated a growing class of Japanese
on how to use new western machinery, administrate government and run private
industries. The Japanese education system following the Rescript on Education
served primarily to teach people what to think and not how to think; and as
Edwin Reischauer stated, "Japan pioneered in the modern totalitarian technique
of using the educational system for indoctrination and was in fact decades ahead
of countries like Germany in perfecting these techniques." Japan's education
system was a tool in creating for Japan a reliable citizenry who respected the
government and had the knowledge to act as "technically efficient clogs" in the
new industries and administration that an industrializing state created.
The ratification of the Meiji constitution drafted in the summer of
1887 and signed into law in 1889 helped create a stable constitutional order in
Japan. The constitution was a gift of the emperor to the people and was made up
of a complicated set of checks and balances between the emperor, his cabinet,
and the Diet. The constitution although it granted voting rights to only one
percent of the population in Japan was well received by the people and played a
critical role in lending legitimacy to the oligarchy (Genro) who ran the
government. Before the constitution the Genro had little basis in theory for
their continued rule other then they spoke for the emperor. But the constitution
with its elections and bicameral diet lender legitimacy to the rule of the
oligarchy. The constitution also brought Japan at least in the minds of the
oligarchy to parity with western political institutions. Indeed, the ruling
group in Japan passed the constitution through not because of popular pressure
but because they thought a constitution and parliamentary government was a
necessary part of the political machinery that helped make western powers strong.
In the long term the parliamentary government of Japan and its constitution provided
a stable government with its mix of oligarchy, monarchy, and a little democracy
for the wealthy. It ensured investors and the Zaibutsu a say in government and
promoted growth by creating a stabile government that was critical to ensuring
investors will put capital in businesses. Both the new education and
governmental structure of Japan passed in the 1880's and 1890's was essential to
Japanese stability and economic and industrial growth.