1/8 Academy Activity: Comparison of German Unification and Meiji Restoration Standard – History-World Benchmark 2



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1/8 Academy Activity: Comparison of German Unification and Meiji Restoration

Standard – History-World

Benchmark 2: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points of the Age of Revolutions (1650-1920).

Indicator A5: The student compares and contrasts German unification with the Meiji restoration (e.g., nationalism, militarism, modernization, industrialization).
The Meiji Restoration (明治維新, Meiji-ishin?), also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, or Renewal, was a chain of events that led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure. It occurred in the latter half of the 19th century, a period that spans both the late Edo period (often called Late Tokugawa shogunate) and the beginning of the Meiji Era. Probably the most important foreign account of the events between 1862-1869 is contained in A Diplomat in Japan by Sir Ernest Satow. The restoration was a direct response to the opening of Japan by the arrival of the Black Ships of Commodore Matthew Perry. This restoration made Imperial Japan a great power.

Meiji Restoration refers to the restoration of the Tenno to the rule of Japan, i.e. the abolition of the Shogunate in 1868. The Tenno remained a largely ceremonial, representative figure; the Meiji Restoration marked the beginning of the modernization and democratization of Japan. Meiji translates to enlightened rule and was the Imperial name chosen by Tenno Mutsuhito, who ruled from 1867 to 1912.



The Unification of Germany took place on January 18, 1871, when Prussian Chief Minister Otto von Bismarck managed to unify a number of independent German states into one nation, and thus create the German Empire, from which all of the states since that time bearing the name of Germany descend. There is much debate surrounding whether or not the "Iron Chancellor" had a masterplan to unify Germany or whether his aims were simply to expand Prussia.

Parallels with Japan Japan followed a similar course of conservative modernization from the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration to 1918. Japan issued a commission in 1882 to study various governmental structures throughout the world and were particularly impressed by Bismarck's Germany, issuing a constitution in 1889 that formed a premiership with powers analogous to Bismarck's position as chancellor with a cabinet responsible to the emperor alone.

One factor in the social anatomy of these governments had been the retention of a very substantial share in political power by landed elites— in Germany's case the Prussian Junkers — due to the absence of a revolutionary breakthrough by the peasants in combination with urban workers.



Use the information above, prior knowledge and research to determine if the following facts support information about the Meiji Restoration, German Unification, or both.

If the facts support information about the Meiji Restoration put an (M) in the blank. If the facts support information about German Unification put a (G) in the blank. If the facts support information about both, put a (B) in the blank.

  1. _____Power was in the hands of the small group of men who were determined to

build a new nation.

  1. _____1904 they defeated Russia winning more of Manchuria. It was the first time an Asian power defeated a European nation.

  2. _____Prussia builds its military power into a huge war machine.

  3. _____Their economy becomes third largest producer of manufactured goods.

  4. _____Updated and built their militaries to world power status.

  5. _____Developed the economy to become a world leader.

  6. _____Bismarck expands Prussia’s power first by defeating Denmark to win two provinces.

  7. _____Began to expand into China, and in 1894 conquered Korea and parts of Manchuria.

  8. _____Leader Tomomi Iwakura sent missions across Europe and North America to learn Western civilization.

  9. _____Feared foreigners would take over so they overthrew the Tokugawa shoguns and put in a new ruler.

  10. _____January, 1871, King William crowns himself Kaiser or emperor setting up the Second Reich and building a more imperialistic nation.

  11. _____In 1862 Otto Von Bismarck was chosen to make Prussia stronger and rebuild

the government.

  1. _____Beat major rivalries and crushed their opponents.

  2. _____In 1867 Prussia unifies the area states.

  3. _____Leaders believed in military strength as essential for a strong nation.

  4. _____The new ruler was Emperor Mutsuhito who was 15 years old and chose the name Meiji or “enlightened rule”.

  5. _____As they got stronger they became more imperialistic. National pride played a large role in their world view.

  6. _____In 1866 Prussia and Austria fight in the Seven Week war with Prussia taking added land.

  7. _____In 1870 Prussia defeats France and Napoleon III who must give up lands to them

  8. _____Went to war to gain land and expand their empires.

  9. _____Bismarck becomes the nation’s first Prime Minister.

  10. _____Set up imperialistic governments with powerful leaders.

  11. _____Modernized the army and navy, building dozens of warships and outfitting over 500,000 soldiers.

  12. _____Over next 30 years the economy became as modern as the European world.



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