On the far left is Ito Hirobumi of Choshu Domain, and on the far right is Okubo Toshimichi of Satsuma Domain. The two young men in the middle are the sons of the Satsuma clan daimyo. These young samurai contributed to the resignation of the Tokugawa shogunate to restore imperial rule.
The Empire of Japan at its peak in 1942:
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A teenage Emperor Meiji with foreign representatives at the end of the Boshin War, 1868–1870.
The Naval Battle of Hakodate, May 1869; in the foreground, and of the Imperial Japanese Navy
The Tokyo Koishikawa Arsenal was established in 1871.
The Empire of Japan at its peak in 1942:
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Allegory of the New fighting the Old, in early Japan Meiji, around 1870
Prominent members of the Iwakura mission. Left to right: Kido Takayoshi, Yamaguchi Masuka, Iwakura Tomomi, Itō Hirobumi, Ōkubo Toshimichi
Emperor Meiji, the 122nd emperor of Japan
Ōura Church, Nagasaki
Interior of the Japanese Parliament, showing the Prime Minister speaking addressing the House of Peers, 1915
Prince Aritomo Yamagata, who was twice Prime Minister of Japan. He was one of the main architects of the military and political foundations of early modern Japan.
Baron Masuda Tarokaja, a member of the House of Peers (Kazoku). His father, Baron Masuda Takashi, was responsible for transforming Mitsui into a zaibatsu.
The Tokyo Industrial Exhibition, 1907 (Mitsubishi pavilion and Exhibition halls)
Marunouchi District in 1920, looking towards the Imperial Palace
A 1-yen banknote, 1881
Thomas Blake Glover was a Scottish merchant in Bakumatsu and received Japan's second highest order from Emperor Meiji in recognition of his contributions to Japan's industrialization.
Prince Katsura Tarō, thrice Prime Minister and the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan. Katsura commanded the IJA 3rd Division under his mentor, Field Marshal Yamagata Aritomo, during the First Sino-Japanese War.
Map of the Japanese Empire in 1895. This map was issued shortly after the Japanese invasion of Taiwan and is consequently one of the first Japanese maps to include Taiwan as a possession of Imperial Japan.
Marquess Komura Jutaro, 1911. Komura became Minister for Foreign Affairs under the first Katsura administration, and signed the Boxer Protocol on behalf of Japan.
French illustration of a Japanese assault on entrenched Russian troops during the Russo-Japanese War
Japanese riflemen during the Russo-Japanese War
Count Tadasu Hayashi was the resident minister to the United Kingdom. While serving in London from 1900, he worked to successfully conclude the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and signed on behalf of the government of Japan on January 30, 1902.
Port Arthur viewed from the Top of Gold Hill, after its capitulation in 1905. From left are the wrecks of Russian pre-dreadnought battleships Peresvet, Poltava, Retvizan, Pobeda and the protected cruisers Pallada
Emperor Taishō, the 123rd emperor of Japan
Topographic map of the Empire of Japan in November, 1918
Native Micronesian constables of Truk Island, circa 1930. Truk became a possession of the Empire of Japan under a mandate from the League of Nations following Germany's defeat in World War I.
Commanding Officers and Chiefs of Staff of the Allied Military Mission to Siberia, Vladivostok during the Allied Intervention
Groundbreaking ceremony of Ginza Line, the oldest subway line in Asia, 1925. Front row, right to left: Rudolf Briske, Noritsugu Hayakawa, Furuichi Kōi, Ryutaro Nomura.
Count Itagaki Taisuke is credited as being the first Japanese party leader and an important force for liberalism in Meiji Japan.
Count Katō Komei, the 14th Prime Minister of Japan from June 11, 1924, until his death on January 28, 1926
Emperor Shōwa during an Army inspection on January 8, 1938
Tokyo Kaikan was requisitioned as the meeting place for members of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association (Taisei Yokusankai) in the early days.
Japanese Pan-Asian writer Shūmei Ōkawa
Rebel troops assembling at police headquarters during the February 26 Incident
A bank run during the Shōwa financial crisis, March 1927
National Diet Building, 1930
Political map of the Asia-Pacific region, 1939
Japanese troops entering Shenyang, Northeast China during the Mukden Incident, 1931
The Japanese occupation of Peiping (Beijing) in China, on August 13, 1937. Japanese troops are shown passing from Peiping into the Tartar City through Zhengyangmen, the main gate leading onward to the palaces in the Forbidden City.
IJN Special Naval Landing Forces armed with the Type 11 Light Machine Gun during the Battle of Shanghai, 1937
Signing ceremony for the Axis Powers Tripartite Pact
Founding ceremony of the Hakkō ichiu (All the world under one roof) monument in 1940
A map of the Japanese advance from 1937 to 1942
Victorious Japanese troops march through the city center of Singapore following the city's capture in February 1942 (Photo from the Imperial War Museum)
Imperial Japanese Army paratroopers are landing during the Battle of Palembang, February 13, 1942.
A model representing the attack by dive bombers from USS Yorktown (CV-5) and USS Enterprise (CV-6) on the Japanese aircraft carriers, and in the morning of June 4, 1942, during the Battle of Midway
Group of Type 2 Ka-Mi tanks on board of 2nd class transporter of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1944–1945
The rebuilt battlecruiser sank at her moorings in the naval base of Kure on July 24 during a series of bombings.
The Japanese archipelago and the Korean Peninsula in 1945 (National Geographic)
A drawing depicting a speech in the Imperial Japanese Diet on November 1, 1945, the end of the Second World War. In the foreground there are several Allied soldiers watching the proceedings from the back of the balcony.
From left to right: Marshal Admiral Heihachirō Tōgō (1848–1934), Field Marshal Oku Yasukata (1847–1930), Marshal Admiral Yoshika Inoue (1845–1929), Field Marshal Kageaki Kawamura (1850–1926), at the unveiling ceremony of bronze statue of Field Marshal Iwao Ōyama
Population density map of the Empire of Japan (1920).
Population density map of the Empire of Japan (1940).
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army
Naval ensign of the Empire of Japan
Flag of the Japanese Emperor

The Empire of Japan, (大日本帝国) also known as the Japanese Empire or Imperial Japan, was a historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II 1947 constitution and subsequent formation of modern Japan.

- Empire of Japan

The ideal of samurai military spirit lived on in romanticized form and was often used as propaganda during the early 20th-century wars of the Empire of Japan.

- Meiji Restoration

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Meiji Constitution promulgation (1889)

Meiji (era)

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Era of Japanese history that extended from October 23, 1868 to July 30, 1912.

Era of Japanese history that extended from October 23, 1868 to July 30, 1912.

Meiji Constitution promulgation (1889)
The fifteen-year-old Meiji Emperor, moving from Kyoto to Tokyo at the end of 1868, after the fall of Edo
Emperor Meiji in his fifties.
Interior of House of Peers, showing Minister speaking at the tribune from which members address the House.
Ceremony for the Promulgation of the Constitution by Wada Eisaku, showing the Emperor presenting the Constitution to Prime Minister Kuroda Kiyotaka at a ceremony in the Imperial Palace on 11 February 1889 (Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery)
Ginza in 1880s.
Display of a painting of a nude, Kuroda Seiki's Morning Toilette, at the Fourth National Industrial Exhibition in 1895 caused a stir, captured by Bigot
Outer kimono for a woman (uchikake) with hanging scroll motifs, 1880–1890
Hokkaidō Development Commission Sapporo Main Office (Historical Village of Hokkaido)
1907 Tokyo Industrial Exhibition
Tsuruma Park, 1910; in January 1873 the Dajō-kan issued a notice providing for the establishment of public parks, that of Ueno Park following shortly after
Japanese soldiers in front of Kankaimon gate at Shuri Castle at the time of the so-called Ryūkyū Disposition
Marquis Saigo Tsugumichi commanded Japanese expeditionary forces as a lieutenant-general in the Taiwan Expedition.
Commander-in-chief Saigō Tsugumichi pictured with leaders of Seqalu (Native tribe) in Taiwan Expedition 1874.
Photograph of Atayal men taken by Torii Ryūzō in 1900.
A map of the Japanese Empire dating to 1895. This map was issued shortly after the 1895 Japanese invasion of Taiwan and is consequently one of the first Japanese maps to include Taiwan and as a possession of Imperial Japan.
Mythical group in bronze by Otake Koriyuni, the Khalili Collection of Japanese Art
Flower and bird pattern vase, by Namikawa Yasuyuki
"Waves" maki-e panel by Shibata Zeshin, 1888-1890
One of the Twelve Hawks by Suzuki Chokichi, 1893, bronze, lacquer, casting, gilding, and inlay
Earthenware bowl by Yabu Meizan, circa 1910
Basket of Flowers. circa 1900. Khalili Collection of Japanese Art.
A composite imaginary view of Japan: textile artwork
Byōbu Dragon and tiger (竜虎図) left side, 1895, by Hashimoto Gahō
Byōbu Dragon and tiger right side, 1895, by Hashimoto Gahō

The Meiji era was the first half of the Empire of Japan, when the Japanese people moved from being an isolated feudal society at risk of colonization by Western powers to the new paradigm of a modern, industrialized nation state and emergent great power, influenced by Western scientific, technological, philosophical, political, legal, and aesthetic ideas.

Imperial restoration occurred the next year on January 3, 1868, with the formation of the new government.

Government of Meiji Japan

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The government that was formed by politicians of the Satsuma Domain and Chōshū Domain in the 1860s.

The government that was formed by politicians of the Satsuma Domain and Chōshū Domain in the 1860s.

The Meiji government was the early government of the Empire of Japan.

After the Meiji Restoration, the leaders of the samurai who overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate had no clear agenda or pre-developed plan on how to run Japan.

Chōshū Domain

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Domain (han) of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan during the Edo period from 1600 to 1871.

Domain (han) of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan during the Edo period from 1600 to 1871.

Map of Japanese provinces (1868) with Nagato Province highlighted
The Chōshū Kiheitai fought against the shogunate in the Second Chōshū expedition and the Boshin War.
Mōri Takachika
Hagi Castle, the seat of the Mōri Lords of Chōshū

The Chōshū Domain was the most prominent anti-Tokugawa domain and formed the Satchō Alliance with the rival Satsuma Domain during the Meiji Restoration, becoming instrumental in the establishment of the Empire of Japan and the Meiji oligarchy.

Itō Hirobumi in 1909

Itō Hirobumi

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Japanese politician and statesman who served as the first Prime Minister of Japan.

Japanese politician and statesman who served as the first Prime Minister of Japan.

Itō Hirobumi in 1909
Itō Hirobumi in 1909
Itō Hirobumi as a samurai in his youth.
Photo of Itō (fourth from right--standing) alongside other members of the Iwakura mission
Itō Hirobumi as prime minister (c.1880s.)
Itō in the later years of his political career.
Prince Itō and the Crown Prince of Korea Yi Un
A Series C 1,000 yen note of Japan, with a portrait of Itō Hirobumi.

A London-educated samurai of the Chōshū Domain and a central figure in the Meiji Restoration, Itō Hirobumi chaired the bureau which drafted the Constitution for the newly formed Empire of Japan.

Yamagata Aritomo

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Yamagata in his early years
Field Marshal Yamagata (c.1898).
Yamagata during his years as Prime Minister
Prince Katsura Tarō, thrice Prime Minister of Japan. He was Yamagata's protégé and close ally.
Prince Yamagata Aritomo in his later years.
Yamagata Aritomo, unknown date

Gensui Prince Yamagata Aritomo (山縣 有朋), also known as Prince Yamagata Kyōsuke, was a senior-ranking Japanese military commander, twice-elected Prime Minister of Japan, and a leading member of the genrō, an élite group of senior statesmen who dominated Japan after the Meiji Restoration.

As the Imperial Japanese Army's inaugural Chief of Staff, he was the chief architect of the Empire of Japan's military and its reactionary ideology.

Map of the campaign

Satsuma Rebellion

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Revolt of disaffected samurai against the new imperial government, nine years into the Meiji Era.

Revolt of disaffected samurai against the new imperial government, nine years into the Meiji Era.

Map of the campaign
Saigō Takamori (seated, in French uniform), surrounded by his officers, in traditional attire. News article in Le Monde illustré, 1877
Imperial Japanese Army officers of the Kumamoto garrison, who resisted Saigō Takamori's siege, 1877
The clash at Kagoshima
Imperial troops embarking at Yokohama to fight the Satsuma rebellion in 1877.
Shinohara Kunimoto
Battle of Shiroyama.
Imperial Japanese Army fortifications encircling Shiroyama. 1877 photograph.
Samurai fighting the Imperial army during the Subjugation of Kagoshima in Sasshu (Satsuma), by Yoshitoshi, 1877
Soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Satsuma Rebellion.
Kagoshima boto shutsujinzu by Yoshitoshi
Kumamoto Castle
Saigō Takamori Gunmusho (軍務所) banknote, issued in 1877 to finance his war effort. Japan Currency Museum.
Battle of Tabaruzaka: Imperial troops on the left, rebel samurai troops on the right
Battle of Tabaruzaka
Saigo's army clashes with the government's forces

Its name comes from the Satsuma Domain, which had been influential in the Restoration and became home to unemployed samurai after military reforms rendered their status obsolete.

Saigō's rebellion was the last and most serious of a series of armed uprisings against the new government of the Empire of Japan, the predecessor state to modern Japan.

Tokugawa shogunate

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The military government of Japan during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868.

The military government of Japan during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868.

The mon of the Tokugawa clan. The Tokugawa shogunate (1600-1868) preserved 250 years of peace.
Edo Castle, 17th century
Dutch trading post in Dejima, c. 1805
Sakuradamon Gate of Edo Castle where Ii Naosuke was assassinated in 1860
Samurai of the Shimazu clan

The Tokugawa shogunate declined during the Bakumatsu ("final act of the shogunate") period from 1853 and was overthrown by supporters of the Imperial Court in the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

The Empire of Japan was established under the Meiji government, and Tokugawa loyalists continued to fight in the Boshin War until the defeat of the Republic of Ezo at the Battle of Hakodate in June 1869.

Satsuma Domain

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Domain (han) of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan during the Edo period from 1602 to 1871.

Domain (han) of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan during the Edo period from 1602 to 1871.

Maximum extent of Satsuma Domain during the Sengoku period, 1586
Maximum extent of Satsuma Domain during the Sengoku period, 1586
Map of Japan, 1789—the Han system affected cartography
Maximum extent of Satsuma Domain during the Sengoku period, 1586
Maximum extent of Satsuma Domain during the Sengoku period, 1586
A 150-pound Satsuma cannon, cast in 1849. It was mounted on Fort Tenpozan at Kagoshima. Caliber: 290 mm, length: 4220 mm
Map showing southern Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands, 1781
A daguerreotype of Shimazu Nariakira
Saigō Takamori
Pavilion of the "Government of Satsuma" at the Exposition Universelle in 1867 in Paris
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The Satsuma Domain formed the Satchō Alliance with the rival Chōshū Domain during the Meiji Restoration and became instrumental in the establishment of the Empire of Japan.

Portrait by Edoardo Chiossone (1888)

Emperor Meiji

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The 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession.

The 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession.

Portrait by Edoardo Chiossone (1888)
Emperor Meiji wearing the sokutai, 1872
Emperor Meiji in 1873
Silver coin: 1 Japanese Trade Dollar, Meiji 9 - 1876
First-ever photograph of Emperor Meiji at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal by Raimund von Stillfried on Jan 1, 1872.
The sixteen-year-old Emperor, traveling from Kyoto to Tokyo at the end of 1868
Emperor Meiji in later life. Emperor Meiji wore a large beard in his later years, which is his well-known image. Having the beard was to cover his facial defects of mandibular protrusion caused by genetic diseases.
Illustration of Emperor Meiji by The Illustrated London News, published in the New-York Tribune (1905)
A portrait of Emperor Meiji in his older years from The Spell of Japan (1914) by Isabel Weld Perkins
Emperor Meiji's last exercise supervision
Funeral of Emperor Meiji, 1912
French envoys received by Count Akiyama Yoshifuru (front left) at the funeral of Emperor Meiji.
A bronze statue of Meiji Emperor
Studio still snap from the 1957 Japanese film "Meiji Tenno to Nichiro Daisenso (Emperor Meiji and the Great Russo-Japanese War)"(Shintoho). Emperor Meiji of Kanjūrō Arashi.
The Triumphal Grand Army Review by Kobayashi Mango
Conference on Drafting a Constitution by Goseda Horyu
Visiting a Silver Mine by Gomi Seikichi
Chrysanthemum Garden Party by Nakazawa Hiromitsu
Ceremony for the Promulgation of the Constitution by Wada Eisaku
Emperor at Imperial Headquarters by Minami Kunzo
Chiefs of sixteen countries in a gathering envisage a desirable future world.
Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery

Reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death on 30 July 1912, and the first monarch of the Empire of Japan, he presided over the Meiji era, and was the figurehead of the Meiji Restoration, a series of rapid changes that witnessed Japan's transformation from an isolationist, feudal state to an industrialized world power.

A conté of Takamori, by Edoardo Chiossone.

Saigō Takamori

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Japanese samurai and nobleman.

Japanese samurai and nobleman.

A conté of Takamori, by Edoardo Chiossone.
A portrait of Takamori by Ishikawa Shizumasa
The Seikanron debate. Saigō Takamori is sitting in the center. 1877 woodblock print.
Saigō preparing for war
Saigō Takamori (upper right) directing his troops at the Battle of Shiroyama
Saigō Takamori Gunmusho (軍務所) banknote, issued in 1877 to finance his war effort. Japan Currency Museum.
Monument of Satsu Do Toubaku no Mitsuyaku (Gion, Kyoto, Japan)
Saigō Takamori's statue near the southern entrance of Ueno Park.
The deathplace monument at Shiroyama-chō, Kagoshima
Aikana (1837-1902)
Saigō Itoko (1843-1922)
Saigō Kikujirō (1861-1928)
Saigō Toratarō (1866-1919)
Saigō Jūdō (1843-1902)
Portrait of Saigo Takamori, faithful depiction by the acquaintance Tokonami Masayoshi in 1887.
Woodblock print of Saigo Takamori by Hasegawa Sadanobu II which describes his career, November 1877

He was one of the most influential samurai in Japanese history and one of the three great nobles who led the Meiji Restoration.

Saigō did insist, however, that Japan should go to war with Korea in the Seikanron debate of 1873 due to Korea's refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Emperor Meiji as head of state of the Empire of Japan, and insulting treatment meted out to Japanese envoys attempting to establish trade and diplomatic relations.