ASIA212Varley

One response of the government to the peoples rights

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Unformatted text preview: . . Outside of the most stupid person in the world, no one would say that our learning and business is on a par with those of the Western countries. Who would compare our carts with their locomotives, or our swords with their pistols? We speak of the yin and yang and the five elements; they have discovered 60 elements. . . . We think we dwell on an immovable plain; they know that the earth is round and moves. We think that our country is the most sacred, divine land; they travel about the world opening lands and establishing countries. . . . In Japan’s present condition there is nothing in which we may take pride vis-à-vis the West. All that Japan has to be proud of . . . is its scenery.11 Unlike most of the other members of the Meirokusha, Fukuzawa steadfastly refused to enter the service of the Meiji government and insisted upon the importance of maintaining his independence as a social critic. The sensitivity of the Meiji Six enlighteners in general to changes in government attitude, however, was revealed in 1875 when, as the result of issuance by the government of a restrictive press law, they ceased publication of the Meiji Six Magazine and soon terminated the activities of its parent society. Amid the continuing enthusiasm for civilization and enlightenment, the government had found itself faced in the mid-1870s with a newly organized political opposition; and the predominantly government-oriented membership of the Meirokusha deemed it prudent to dissolve an organization that might be viewed as sympathetic to that opposition. The Meiji Restoration had been carried out under the euphoric slogan of a “return to antiquity”; in fact, the restorationists do not appear to have had any concrete political plan other than to wrest power from the tottering shogunate. As leaders of the new Meiji government, they launched the country on the road to civilization and enlightenment and encouraged aspirations among the Japanese people for “independence,” “freedom,” and “individual right...
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