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Meiji Restoration: the unbalanced evolution of proto-systems and derivative systems and its impact on Japan’s Industrialization

MANG Jingshi1

(1.Japan Institute of Nankai University, Tianjin, China 300071)

【Abstract】By 2018, Japan’s Meiji Restoration had reached its 150 anniversary. Based on the relative relationship between the proto-system and the derivative systems and the evolutionary analysis framework, this paper explores the impact of the Meiji Restoration on Japan’s pre-war industrialization. As a large-scale systematic change, the Meiji Restoration is different from the British Revolution and the American Revolution. In the process of the Meiji Restoration, the evolution of the proto-system and the derivative systems was unbalanced. In other words, the evolution of the alternative system and the transplanted systems without a proto constitutional government was unbalanced. Japan did not choose the constitutional democracy system in the restoration course, but the authoritarian system of the Emperor’s autocracy, and at the same time vigorously transplanted the high-efficiency modern economic systems deriving from the Western developed countries. Thus, the unbalanced evolution of the proto-system and the derivative systems was manifested in the unbalanced evolution of the political system and the economic systems since the Japanese Meiji Restoration began. The Meiji Restoration demonstrated the change of systematic model in Japan. From the perspective of the short-term effects, Japan’s pre-war industrialization had been greatly promoted because of its more powerful resource mobilization ability. However, from the perspective of the long-term effects, Japan started an aggressive war in the circumstance of systematic model change and the war ultimately led to the failure of Japan’s pre-war industrialization.

【Keywords】 Meiji Restoration; proto-system; derivative system; systematic change; industrialization;


【Funds】 Basic Research Project in Humanities and Social Sciences of the Asia Research Center in Nankai University (AS1802)

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This Article


CN: 22-1065/F

Vol 37, No. 06, Pages 1-8

November 2018


Article Outline


  • Introduction
  • 1 Proto-systems, derivative systems and their relationships
  • 2 The UK and the US: from the Glorious Revolution to the Constitutional Development in the Extended Polities of the British Empire
  • 3 Japan: the formation of a “central state under the aegis of the traditional sovereign”
  • 4 Absence of a constitutional proto-system, system transplantation and Japan’s pre-war industrialization
  • Conclusion
  • References