A prime example of robuns irreverent humor can be

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Unformatted text preview: 19 Encounter with the West 255 Even when it enjoyed its greatest popularity in the Meiji period, Christianity could never claim as its own more than a very small percentage of the population of Japan (less than one-half of 1 percent); and after the turn to conservatism in the late 1880s and 1890s, it lost any opportunity it may have had to become a major force in Japanese life. Moreover, even if it had not been seen as a threat to the statist views rendered newly orthodox in the Meiji Constitution of 1889 and the Imperial Rescript on Education, Christianity would have (and indeed has) suffered from sectarianism in Japan, a sectarianism that had been kept to a minimum by American Protestant missionaries in the palmy days of successful proselytizing during the first two decades of Meiji. Apart from its work in such fields as education and medicine and the profound influence it exerted on certain individuals, like the ones we have been examining here, Christianity has been of negligible importance in modern Japan. The Meiji Constitution was written in secret by Itò Hirobumi and his colleagues and was presented to the Japanese people in 1889 as a gift from the emperor. It was based on a carefully considered mixture of conservative and liberal principles (with the former heavily outweighing the latter) that owed much to the constitutional theories of Germany, the Western country the Meiji oligarchs had come increasingly to regard as most analogous to Japan in historical background and stage of modernization. The conservative character of the Constitution may, for purposes of illustration, be noted in several major areas. First, an appointive House of Peers was given equal lawmaking powers with an elective House of Representatives. Second, the personal liberties granted to the Japanese people were all made “subject to the limitations imposed by law”; in other words, such liberties were not to be inalienable but might be (and often were) restricted by government decree. But the most strongly conservative feature of the Meiji Constitution was the great power it allowed the executive branch of government. This power derived in large part from omission: that is, from t...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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