The Meiji Restoration of 1868 constitutes one of the great turning points in Japanese history. Standing as the culminating events of the political struggle which agitated Japan in the years following the forcible “opening” of the country to the Western world, it signaled the end of the Tokugawa hegemony and the establishment of a new central authority under which Japan was to embark upon an era of unprecedented national development. Few episodes in Japanese history have been so voluminously recorded or so thoroughly studied as the Meiji Restoration. The events of the several decades on either side of 1868 have been traced and retraced, and their implications analyzed by succeeding generations of historians both Japanese and Western.

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