Sept 17/19 – Bunmei-kaika

Promulgation of the Constitution 1889

Promulgation of the Constitution 1889

Overwhelmingly the slogan that ruled the 1870-80s was: “Civilization and Enlightenment” (bunmei-kaika, 文明開化). But like the ideological reductionism of the Charter Oath, there was a tremendous amount of unresolved issues that could fit into this framework. As a result, though without the military violence of the Boshin War, the 1870-80s saw tremendous struggles–and some violence–over what form Civilization and Enlightenment would take. We will look at these debates and their contingent resolution in the Constitution of 1890.


  1. Look at the essay and images on Civilization and Enlightenment
  2. Sources 30-42; Fukuzawa Yukichi, “On National Independence“; Kato Hiroyuki “A New Thesis on Human Rights“; Ueki Emori, three essays
  3. and if time, recommended: Sources 52-80.


Slides 2