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In the News: Emperor Meiji
Emperor Meiji made the news in Junior Scholastic on March 27, 2006
By Tiffany Chaparro

Emperor Meiji
Mutsuhito, of Meiji family, (1852-1912). Emperor of Japan, 1867-1912.
(Photo: Bettmann/Corbis)
Meiji became Emperor of Japan when he was only 16 years old. At that time Japan was governed by a monarchy, a form a government that is headed by one person, usually according to a family line. Today, there is still a royal family in Japan, but they do not have actual power to govern the country.

Born in 1852, Meiji was his father's only surviving son. At the age of 8, Meiji received the personal name Mutsuhito, and was recognized as the imperial prince. This meant that he could be a successor to the throne.

Emperor Meiji is best known for what is called the "Meiji Restoration." During this period, the Emperor pushed his country into the modern era, creating a democracy and a parliament, which is a law making body similar to the U.S. Congress. He sent scholars to other countries to learn different technologies and customs, and received visits from foreign ministers. It was also during this time that railroads were built and a new constitution was written.

Since Japan had been isolated from other countries for so long, change did not happen easily. Some citizens, upset that outsiders were allowed in the country, even revolted against the government. However, his did not undo the great strides that that Japan had made as a country. When Emperor Meiji died in 1912, he left behind a strong, modernized nation.