Talk:Meiji period

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Resolved: Confusion cleaned up, with source.

The sentence, "When finally granted by the emperor as a sign of his sharing his authority and giving rights and liberties to his subjects, the 1889 Constitution of the Empire of Japan (the Meiji Constitution) provided for the Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai), composed of a popularly elected House of Representatives with a very limited franchise of male citizens who paid 15 in national taxes, about 1 percent of the population, and the House of Peers, composed of nobility and imperial appointees; and a cabinet responsible to the emperor and independent of the legislature," is confusing because "15" is unclear. Fifteen percent? Why is this only one percent of the population?

I agree with whoever wrote the above that there seems to be at least one word missing. Should it be "15 yen" or "at least 15 yen" perhaps? --Historian 09:16, Dec 2, 2004 (UTC)
I have found the source of this quotation on the web here. It does indeed say "¥15" as I thought. I propose that the word "yen" be added to the text. --Historian 05:57, Dec 3, 2004 (UTC)
And here is the clincher. The Japanese version of wikipedia talks about 15 yen.

See here (in Japanese). So I am going to change the main text and remove the dispute tag. --Historian 10:49, Dec 3, 2004 (UTC)

Era vs period[edit]

Resolved: Article stable at new name for almost 8 years.

I moved the article from Meiji Era to Meiji period, and changed the article accordingly. I don't know which is more correct, but the other periods are called periods on wikipedia and google shows "Meiji period" in slightly wider usage than "era". ~leifHELO 01:03, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)

Politics or ideology?[edit]

I'm by no means an expert on Japanese history, but from my reading I find this account a bit uncritical of the actions of the oligarch-politicians of the Meiji era. For example I would argue that to properly deal with the movement for a representative assembly, or the minken popular rights movement, you'd have to deal with how far and for whom 'popular rights' was mainly ploy for achieving political power rather than disinterested idealism. For example, many were easily bought off and coopted into government. The minken movement was temporarily abandoned in April 1874 when these outsiders were extended a carrot of participation.

It should also be made clear that when mainstream Japanese political thinkers at this time talked about giving representation to 'the people', while they might have meant to imply an organic nature and a national destiny in a similar way to the European nationalist tradition, they were politically referring to the shizoku, the noble estate. They often criticised the 'common people' for their ignorance and moral character.

I'd recomend P.Varley, Japanese Culture (New York, 1984)

H.Wray and H.Conroy (eds.), Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History (Honolulu, 1983( --Rich Shore 14:10, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This complaint is now over 7 years old. Has this issue been satisfactorily resolved? — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 10:46, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Pictures needed[edit]

Resolved: Article has 5 illustrations, as of 2012-10-23.

As in subject. Can we have some? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 22:42, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Unresolved: The "Society" section remains a section-stub after 7 years with almost no information on arts & humanities topics.

I tried to add some structure to the text. It looks like we have a lot of information on the founding of government, and fewer to zero information on the rest. Society can barely be called a stub. Art, literature, religion is nonexistant. Foreign relations completely lacks but at least there is a seperate article about it. The Meiji Restoration needs its own section. -- Mkill 17:41, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

In reference to the foreign relations section, I would like to request that somebody put in how the Japanese reacted and responsed to Christianity in this era. Since Christianity had a strong voice in western powers at this time, it should be included in foreign relations or even have it's own section. However i don't know if it's even mentioned in this article.

Era beginning[edit]

Resolved: Clarified as 1868.

Did the era begin in 1867, or 1868? This article contradicts itself. Brutannica 23:41, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Resolved: Article stable at "period" name for almost 8 years; no consensus to revert to "era".
The following is a closed discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was no consensus. Patstuarttalk|edits 04:17, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

  • Meiji periodMeiji era —(Discuss)— A Japanese era (年号 nengō) is a way to announce dates in Japan. A period (時代 jidai) is a long period of time (more than one hundred years long) like, for example, what we call "Middle Age" or "Renaissance" in Europe. Meiji is an era, coinciding with the reign of Emperor Meiji, not a period. —Švitrigaila 16:33, 14 January 2007 (UTC)


Extended content
Add  # '''Support'''  or  # '''Oppose'''  on a new line in the appropriate section followed by a brief explanation, then sign your opinion using ~~~~.

Survey - Support votes[edit]

  1. Strong Support shows usage almost equally divided, and since the purely chronological use must be era, this is the more convenient usage. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:21, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't call 4,070 versus 3,040 "almost equally divided". And nobody is claiming that the term "Meiji era" is unheard of, or even wrong, which is why it shows up in your search. But the use of the term Meiji Period (明治時代) could only be controversial for people who aren't familiar with the subject (as is evidenced by the need to consult Google in the first place), or who are motivated by misconceptions (as Švitrigaila seems to be in his series of incorrect statements above about the treatment of "periods" in Japanese history).-Jefu 03:49, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
"Meiji Period is a universal way of refering to" [the subject of this article] sounds remarkably like such a claim. For the purpose of determining the name of this article, Japanese usage is almost immaterial; whether or not there is a consensus Japanese term, the question here is how it is most commonly and conveniently represented in English. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
English dictionaries and encyclopedias are more likely to consider "Meiji" to be a period rather than an era, even if you throw out Google counts as you seem to be suggesting. As I stated below, Meiji is a period according to Merriam-Webster, Encyclopedia Americana, and Encyclopedia Britannica. Therefore, Meiji period is considered to be more correct in English.--Endroit 13:05, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
And the Oxford English Dictionary as well: OED.-Jefu 03:02, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
That's the OED's entry for Meiji. It cites two quotations that use "Meiji era" and none that use "Meiji period". It tends to use period itself, but so what? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:33, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
Right. The definition of Meiji in the OED describes it as a period, just like the MW reference (which I notice you failed to criticize). And as I already pointed out, nobody is saying that "era" is unheard of or not used. Your Google search, in which Meiji period edged out Meiji era by about a 33% margin, already made that clear. This is also why I added "era" references to all of the articles in question, since on some level Švitrigaila did have a legitimate point, and was obviously confused. What I'm curious to know is whether there is some specific experience you have had (perhaps books or articles you have personally read, or any experience with Japanese history at all) that have lead you to be the only person to vote so far who believes so strongly that we should move the article to "Meiji era". Otherwise, I think the vote, and all of the reasons that have already been given by everyone, speak for themselves.-Jefu 03:56, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, they do speak for themselves. Jefu has now twice misquoted himself, and misrepresented the OED. Further deductions would be uncivil speculation. As for the substantive point, my experience is that Meiji era is common, and Showa era was almost universal. No substantive argument, other than an exaggeration of a 4-3 google result into alleged meaning, has been made to the contrary. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:39, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
This has become tiresome. I have not misquoted myself or anyone else, nor have I misrepresented anything. My comment above was all of "And the Oxford English Dictionary as well: OED", which means you need to refer to the post above it for context. And that post says, "English dictionaries...are more likely to consider "Meiji" to be a period...." which is exactly what both MW and the OED do. On the other hand, calling a 3,000 versus 4,000 Google contest (not even in your favor, no less) "almost equally divided" as support for your position is probably the clearest misrepresentation in this entire discussion, other than Švitrigaila's claim to knowledge of Japanese history and terminology that began it in the first place. And as for the substantive arguments, there are several below. And note that nobody has claimed the Google statistics in support of Meiji period, including myself. I have only pointed out why it is not support for moving the article, as you claim it is. Everyone who has voted below, including myself, is speaking from familiarity with the subject, not from Google statistics. I've already engaged you too much already. This will be my last response to you on the subject.-Jefu 08:01, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that; since you have now misrepresented my position also. You have a majority, so this ill-advised and unidiomatic name will stay; so be it - but I still dislike it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:07, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Survey - Oppose votes[edit]

  1. Oppose — "Meiji" is an era as well as a period. However, it is more commonly referred to as a period. Merriam-Webster, Encyclopedia Americana, and Encyclopedia Britannica all refer to it as the Meiji period (or the period), but never the Meiji era (or the era).--Endroit 20:09, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  2. Strongly oppose — As Endroit explains above, although Meiji is indeed an "era" it is also a distinct division of Japanese history, and Meiji Jidai (明治時代) or Meiji Period is a universal way of referring to that particular period. This should have at least been discussed before putting it to a vote; your confusion could have been cleared up quite easily.-Jefu 22:53, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
  3. Strongly oppose For reasons given above and also below. Bendono 12:13, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  4. Oppose. Per Endroit, it is both an "era" and a "period" and there are no problems with the current title, which is consistent with the periods prior to Meiji. Dekimasu 13:28, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  5. Oppose per Endroit and others above. ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 20:45, 16 January 2007 (UTC)


Add any additional comments:
Extended content
Incidentally, there is certainly no rule about periods in Japanese history having to last more than 100 years. The Nara Period was from 710-784, the Northern and Southern Courts Period was from 1336-1392 and the Azuchi-Momoyama Period or Oda-Toyotomi Period was from 1568 to 1593, a mere 30 years. And Shōwa is another era that is likely to become its own "period", because Shōwa jidai has become a widely accepted term in Japanese, it was quite long in any event, and a lot of significant things happened during that time period.-Jefu 23:01, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Interestingly, I discovered that the only reason this has been put to a vote is because the move cannot be made without the assistance of an editor. Švitrigaila has apparently already moved the articles at Taishō Period and Shōwa Period without any discussion whatsoever (I moved them back). And at one point, he was adding the nonsense term Shōwa Nengō to one of the articles, which demonstrates his poor understanding of the topic. Švitrigaila, there is nothing wrong with not understanding something, and I'm not trying to pick on you for not having a clear understanding of the subject, but please do not make drastic changes like this regarding topics that you think you understand. This is precisely why discussion is a useful thing. You misunderstanding could have been cleared up quite easily.-Jefu 04:35, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
As well associated edits of Template:History of Japan. These are fairly major changes. Nothing wrong with being bold, but in the future please discuss these types of changes first. Bendono 06:48, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
No offense intended, but Švitrigaila seems to be confused on several accounts. First, lets deal with the English matters, as this is the English Wikipedia. The standard practice in Japanese history is to call these lumps of time (for lack of a better word) "periods". Specifically, "Meiji Period", "Taishō Period" etc. You may confirm this in nearly any Japanese history book. For example, a bilingual history book published by Kōdansha entitled "Japanese History" uses "Meiji Period", "Taishō Period", "Shōwa Period", and "Heisei Period". (Needless to say, the Japanese is "Meiji Jidai", "Taishō Jidai", "Shōwa Jidai", and "Heisei Jidai".) That being said, it is not impossible to find references to "Meiji era" (or even "Edo era", "Kamakura era" etc.) Notice that "era" is often written in lower case. This generally means, for example, "the era known as Meiji". Contrast this to "Meiji Period" with a capital P. The former is a description while the latter is a proper name.
Next, lets deal with the Japanese issues. A 年号 (nengō) is the name of an era / period, not specifically the period itself. Thus, the Meiji Period has the nengō "Meiji"; the period is called 明治時代 (meiji jidai). There is no requirement for a jidai or nengō to be of any specific length of years. (For example, 学生の時代.) The nengō used to change frequently for various reasons. For example, the final five during the Edo Period were Ansei, Man'en, Bunkyū, Genji, and Keiō. This trend ended in the Meiji Period when it was decided that a single name (nengō) would be used for the entire reign of an emperor. This is called 一世一元の制 (issei ichigen no sei). Finally, this was legally formalized in the Era Name Law (元号法 gengō-hō) of 1979.
In general, you may consider 時代 (jidai) -> period and 年号 (nengō) -> era name as fixed translations. "Meiji Period" is the firmly established term used by historians and published books in English. I think you clear up any confusion by reading a little more Japanese history. Bendono 12:11, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

After the vote...[edit]

Excuse me to answer so late. The vote is now closed and it's to late to react, but I must. I strongly supported the move. Meiji is an era (nengō) by definition. And incidentally, it can be considered a period (jidai) too, but only incidentally. ... Švitrigaila 12:58, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Extended content – Long version

I strongly supported the move. Meiji is an era (nengō) by definition. And incidentally, it can be considered a period (jidai) too, but only incidentally. A period has no "official" definition. It's a convenience used by some historians. Some will use post-1868 eras as periods, others won't. A far better way to draw periods in Japan history since 1868 is to consider two periods: the period of the Empire of Japan (corresponding exactly to what is discribed in the article Empire of Japan, 1867-1945) an the Contemporary period (1945-now). Sometimes Meiji is considered a period. But that period doesn't always coincide with the Meiji era. The so-called "Meiji period" runs from 1867 to 1945, while Meiji era runs from 1868 to 1912. And this article is about Meiji era. The article Meiji Era was renamed into Meiji Period by imitation of the Japanese Template ja:Template:日本の歴史, which calls Meiji and the following eras "periods" (時代), contradicting the Japanese article ja:明治 itself which call Meiji an "era name" (年号).

Someone said on the discussion there exist a Taishō period, a Shōwa period and a Heisei period too. If the present emperor died today and if his son died three days later, would Wikipedia call the son's three day reign era a "period"? Nobody would, and Wikipedia would be the only source to do it! That's simply a mistake. Those names are era names. You can call them "periods" if you want, but they are basically, fundamentally, before everything else, by definition era names. In the same way, you know Pluto is by definition a "dwarf planet", not a "planet". You have the right to call it a "planet" if you want. But the role of an up to date encyclopedia is to call it a "dwarf planet", and not to pretend "Yes, it's a dwarf planet, but a lot of people are used to call it a "planet" and since the majority rules, Wikipedia will still call it a "planet" until a survey shows a majority to call it a "dwarf planet"!" Or else: "Yes, a tomato is by scientific difinition a plant, or the fruit of that plant, but since most people consider it a "vegetable", Wikipedia being democratic has to define it a "vegetable" first." The same goes for the Japanese era names. "Era names" are what Meiji, Taishō, Shōwa and Heisei are. "Periods" are what some historians, some books, not all of them, by convenience only, call them in popularization works.

This question must not be the issue of a vote! It's a fact. It is a very serious drift on Wikipedia I meet more and more often: in one hand there are facts, in the other hand there are approximations, popularization conveniences, received ideas. The rule of an encyclopedia is to give facts. Not to organise a survey in which people say: "Yes we know that factually Meiji is an era name, but since some people call it a "period" by convenience, it must be called a period". This preference given to conveniences and received ideas upon scientific facts is spread on Wikipedia and very worrying for an encyclopedia pretending to be serious.

Švitrigaila 12:58, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

I have a simple question for you, Švitrigaila. If Meiji, Taisho, and Showa are eras but not periods, what period(s) would they be classified under?
Please try to provide citations for the proper period name(s) used by Japanese historians. Thank you.--Endroit 15:54, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
As I have already said just a bit above: "A far better way to draw periods in Japan history since 1868 is to consider two periods: the period of the Empire of Japan (corresponding exactly to what is discribed in the article Empire of Japan, 1867-1945) an the Contemporary period (1945-now)." Švitrigaila 16:02, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
So where are the citations I asked for, Švitrigaila? Besides, "period of the Empire of Japan" gets zero Google hits. Take a good look at the actual facts: Meiji period, Taisho period, and Showa period are very well established already.--Endroit 16:09, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
And in what period are we now in France? And in England? And in the United States? We're no more in the Middle Age. No more in the Renaissance. We're simply in the Contemporary period. It doesn't need a name. Why would it be different in Japan?
For example this template gives a "Revolution to WWI" period and a "Modern France" period. Why not a "Modern Japan" period? Švitrigaila 16:56, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

It doesn't matter why, because it doesn't change the fact that it is.

Švitrigaila, I think we've already established that you have no idea what you are talking about here. To demonstrate it (again), please give me one remotely credible source that leads you to believe that the "Meiji period" runs from 1868 to 1945. That is absolute nonsense. The only division that would give you that time period is if you took Japan's modern period (which would be from 1868 on) and divided it into pre- and post-war.

And if you think that "Meiji period" is merely a convenience, and contrary to "fact", please explain the following entry from my 2,200 some page Kōjien Dictionary of Japanese History, published by Yamakawa Publishing: "めいじじだい【明治時代】明治と改元された一八六八年一〇月二三日(慶応四年九月八日)から一九一二年七月三〇日、明治天皇の死去により大正と改元されるまでの四四年余り。一般には一八六八年一月一日以降を明治時代とよんでいる・・・" And your hypothetical about the emperor who lives for 3 days merely demonstrates that historians would have to come up with something else, like classifying the three day period as a part of the period before it, in such an unlikely scenario. It says nothing about what historians currently actually use to refer to the actual period of Emperor Meiji's reign, which actually lasted for 44 years and saw some of the most profound changes in Japan's history. Several hundred years from now, historians may lump several of these more modern periods together under a larger grouping. And if Wikipedia is still around then, someone will rename the articles appropriately. For now, historians refer to these chunks of time as periods. Period.-Jefu 16:52, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

By the way, the Empire of Japan article is not a reference to a period of Japanese history, it is a reference to the name by which Japan was known during a particular period of its history (and the article doesn't even get the period of time right, which I'm fixing now).-Jefu 16:59, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
And no, the article Empire of Japan is not about the name of the country during this time. The article deals with the history of Japan during the period from the Meiji Restoration to the end of WWII. Terminology is the subjetct of only one paragraph of this article. Švitrigaila 17:26, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
OK for the "Meiji period from 1867 to 1945". You're surely right. But what you can't understand in my point of view is that Meiji is fundamentally an era name, even if some historians use it as a convenience as a period. A "period" is vague. It has no clear definition. It's neither a scientific nor a legal concept. Era is. It's like qualifying a tomato a vegetable rather than a plant: a "vegetable" is a convenient word to call whatever sort of unsweeten vegetal you can eat (leaves, roots, some kind of fruits...) A "period" in history is such a convenient word: a certain period of time with whatever limits you want.
Do you really think there is any reason to make a distinction between the "Shōwa period" and the "Heisei period"? Is there an important change in Japanese history in 1989 that would make a "before" and an "after"? A change as important as the change occuring between Kōmei and Meiji's reigns? Don't you think the changes occuring in 1945 are a bit more serious? (or maybe it's just again that I don't know anything about the history of Japan and I must let the issue for real specialists!) Does your Kōjien Dictionary define Heisei as a "period" too? For example Google gives 22100 entries for "Heisei era" and 11900 for "Heisei period". Švitrigaila 17:20, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
So where are your citations, Švitrigaila? Are these "periods" actually used in Japanese history timelines? Your argument is meaningless if you cannot back them up by any sources.
Also, your claim that "Meiji is not a period" was soundly debunked already as shown above. You have not shown "Meiji era" to be under a period of any name other than the "Meiji period."
Your cited method of dividing Japanese history (if provided) will merely be considered as an alternative, unless you can prove it to be more common than the one currently used (Meiji, Taisho, etc.). So you are arguing for something different already: "How to divide the timeline of Japanese history"; and that has nothing to do with "whether Meiji was a period or not."--Endroit 17:50, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. we've already wasted enough time on this, and there is even a vote on the subject that has concluded. You have said a lot about the concept of periods in general but nothing at all about the practice in question. Although the term Meiji era exists, and is used in some contexts, when historians divide Japanese into periods the overwhelming convention is to use "Meiji period" for the period immediately following rule by the Tokugawa shogunate between 1868 and 1912, even though it also happens to be an era. Let it go already, and let's all move on to something more useful.-Jefu 23:12, 22 January 2007 (UTC)


Unresolved: Article still lacks information on this important subtopic, three years later.

Is there room for a paragraph on the introduction of compulsory education, or is the matter dealt with more fully on another page?andycjp (talk) 11:53, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

This should go in the section-stub called "Society". — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 10:13, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Meiji era in popular culture[edit]

Resolved: No support for adding a pop culture/trivia section in over three years.

How about one of these sections? It would be interesting to see a list of works set in the Meiji era. -- (talk) 11:29, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

Um, no, it wouldn't. That's not what Wikipedia is for. And "a list of works" isn't even what "In popular culture" sections are for (they are for concise annotation of some exemplary and genuinely notable cases of influence of the subject on popular culture, and not all articles here, by any means, need such a section. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 10:30, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Rurouni Kenshin[edit]

Resolved: Linkspam removed.

Why is this listed in the "See Also" section? From what I know about it it's simply a manga that has some historical underpinnings. If a popular culture section is included then this would be pertinent, but it is not another historical source of information. Looking for input as to why this is listed. Robin.dave (talk) 19:51, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

I removed it, as it is not appropriate for the "See also" section, and borders on spammy/promotional. If we listed every piece of fiction set roughly in this period, we'd have thousands of entries in the "See also" section. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 10:13, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Arts and humanities[edit]

This article is missing all information about the insanely influential Meiji period art, which (through influencing Art Nouveau almost as much as Arts and Crafts did) helped define modernity in art and design. It was also, in turn, reflexively influenced by Nouveau and, later, early Art Deco. The "Society" section is also devoid of all other humanties information – literature, philosophy, poetry, music, film and other arts, education, etc. Given the enormous impact of Meiji art, and the intensive cross-polination it represents between East and West, the omission borders on the absurd. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒ ɖ∘¿¤þ   Contrib. 10:13, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

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