The power which destroyed Japanese feudalism and changed in that country an absolute into a constitutional monarchy was a resultant of manifold forces. The most apparent of these forces is the foreign influence. Forces less visible but more potent, tending in this direction, are those influences resulting from the growth of commerce and trade, from the diffusion of western science and knowledge among the people, and from the changes in social habits and religious beliefs. The truth of the solidarity of the varied interests of a social organism is nowhere so well exemplified as in the history of modern Japan. Her remarkable political development would have been impossible had there been no corresponding social, educational, religious, economic and industrial changes. In order to trace the constitutional development of New Japan, it is therefore necessary:
To ascertain the political condition of the country at and after the advent of foreigners in 1853.
To describe the form of government of the Restoration.
To examine the state of commerce, industry, education and social life of Japan at each stage of her political transformations.
To recount the constitutional changes from the Restoration to the Promulgation of the New Constitution.
As a novice in travel marks the broad outlines, the general features and more important products of the country he visits for the first time, so I shall dwell upon the historic landmarks of Japanese constitutional development. This development, no writer, native or foreign, has yet attempted to trace. I shall withstand as much as possible the temptation to refer to the multitude of events which are more or less associated with the constitutional movement. I shall endeavor to ascertain from the edicts, decrees, and proclamations of the Emperor, from the orders and manifestos of the Shogun, from the native authors and journals, from the memorials and correspondence of prominent men, both native and foreign, the trend of our constitutional development. I shall also endeavor to note the leading ideas and principles which, after manifesting themselves in various forms, have at last crystallized into the New Constitution of Japan.
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