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The complicated legacy of modern Japan as it celebrates its 150th birthday

2018-10-23 10:10:23       source:Quartz

October 22, 2018

The modern state of Japan came into being on Oct. 23, 1868, when the Edo era ended and the Meiji emperor ascended to the throne.

The Meiji Restoration, as the event came to be known, marked the start of Japan’s ambitious rise to a global power that, for the first time in history, would see an Asian country stand shoulder-to-shoulder with European powers—which, while a source of pride for many Japanese (and even for some in neighboring countries), also culminated in Japan’s destructive quest for empire in the following century.

While Japan’s rapid rise to become one of the world’s most powerful countries is nothing short of remarkable, its history of conquest has made the legacy of Meiji an uncomfortable one in the post-war era. Today, nationalism is once again on the rise under the leadership of Shinzo Abe—who has tried to channel the spirit and goals of the Meiji era in his quest for a Japanese rejuvenation—making a look back on the Meiji Restoration all the more pertinent.

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