Meiji Prominent Leaders and Their Perceptions of Western Science and Technology: A Brief Analysis

  • Mohamad Firdaus Mansor Majdin


While much research has been undertaken on the Meiji Ishin, nonetheless there is little attention given on what prompted the new Meiji leadership of Japan to introduce reforms in Japan and what model that they should follow. Specifically, this calls for further analysis as to how these Meiji leaders (names include Kido Takayoshi, Ito Hirobumi, Okuma Shigenobu, Okubo Toshimichi, Inoue Kaoru to name but a few), perceived the essentiality of Western science and technology and what benefits that they could bring on Japan as a nation. In doing so, this paper will discuss the views and opinions of some prominent Meiji statesmen and intellectuals about the significance of Western science and technology in Japan following the Meiji Ishin and how they implement them. The study adopts a method of content analysis by scrutinizing archival documents and scholarly works written on a few identified Meiji leaders. In short, the study shows that these prominent Meiji leaders, who had formed the backbone of the Meiji Government in various capacities, held positive views about Western science and technology and they had brilliantly navigated them for Japan’s benefit.


Adams, F. O. (1875). The history of Japan. London: Henry S. King & Co. Vol. II
Adams, T. F. M. (1964). A financial history of modern Japan. Tokyo: Research Ltd.
Akagi, Roy Hidemichi. (1936). Japan's foreign relations 1542-1936: A short history. Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press.
Akita, G. (1967). Foundations of constitutional government in modern Japan 1868-1900. Massachusetts: Harvard Univ. Press.
Akita, George. (2020). Ito Hirobumi: Prime minister of Japan. Retrieved from Earl.
Alcock, R. (1863). The capital of the tycoon: A narrative of a three years' residence in Japan. London: Longman.
Beasley, W. G. (1973). The Meiji restoration. London: Oxford Univ. Press.
Beasley, W. G. (1963). The modern history of Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Turtle.
Beasley, W. G. (1987). Japanese imperialism 1894-1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Beasley, W. G. (1995). Japan encounters the barbarian: Japanese travellers in America and Europe. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Bendix, Reinhard. (1978). Kings or people: Power and the mandate to rule. University of Berkeley: California Press.
Bendix, Reinhard. (1977). Nation-building and citizenship. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Bennet, John W., Passin, Herbert., McKnight, Robert K. (1958). In search of identity: The Japanese overseas scholar in America and Japan. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.
Black, Cyril, B. (1967). The dynamics of modernization: A study in comparative history. New York: Harper.
Borton, Hugh. (1970). Japan’s modern century. New York: Ronald.
British Library. (2021). Chronicles of Japan of 720. Retrieved from
Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2021, September 22). Ōkubo Toshimichi. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from
Brown, Alexander D. (2005). Meiji Japan: A unique technological experience. Student Economic Review, 19, 71-83.
Burks, A. W. (1985). The modernizers: Overseas students, foreign employees, and Meiji Japan. Boulder: Westview Press.
Chang, Richard T. (1970). From prejudice to tolerance: A study of the Japanese image of the west 1826-1864. Tokyo: Sophia University.
Checkland, O. (1989). Britain's encounter with Meiji Japan, 1868-1912. London: Macmillan Press
Cobbing, Andrew. (1998). The Japanese discovery of victorian Britain: Early travel encounters in the far west. Richmond, Surrey: Japan Library.
Cobbing, A., Ohta, A., Checkland, O, and Breen, J. (1998). The Iwakura mission in Britain,1872. London: STICERD, London School of Economics.
Cobbing, Andrew. (2010). Inoue Kaoru (1836-1915): A controversial Meiji statesman. In Hugh Cortazzu (Ed.), Britain and Japan: Biographical portraits (Vol. VII) (pp. 1-18). Netherlands: Brill
Cobbing, Andrew. (2013). Iwakura Tomomi. In Hugh Cortazzi (Ed.), Britain and Japan: Biographical portraits (Vol. VIII) (pp. 1-12). Netherlands: Brill
Conroy, H. (1960). The Japanese seizure of Korea: 1868-1910. A study of realism and idealism in international relations. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.
Crowley, James B. (1966). From closed door to empire: The formation of the Meiji military establishment. In Bernard S. Silberman & Harry Harootunian (Eds.), Modern Japanese leadership: Transition and change (pp. 276-277). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Daniels, G. (1996). Sir Harry Parkes: British representative in Japan 1865-83. Richmond, Surrey: Japan Library.
Devere B. Sidney. (1962). Ōkubo Toshimichi: His political and economic policies in early Meiji Japan. The Journal of Asian Studies, 21 (2), 183-197.
Devere. Brown, Sidney. (1956). Kido Takayoshi (1833-1877): Meiji Japan’s cautious revolutionary. Pacific Historical Review, 25(2), 151-162.
Dore, Ronald, P. (1973). (Ed.). Aspects of social change in modern Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Earl, David M. (1964). Emperor and nation in Japan. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Fait, O. K. (1990). The clash of interests: The transformation of Japan in 1861-1881 in the eyes of the local anglo-saxon press. Oulu: The Historical Assoc, of Northern Finland.
Flottman, Augustus. (2012). The Meiji education system: Developing the emperor’s ideal subject [Undergraduate honours thesis]. The University of Colorado.
Fujitani, Takashi. (1996). Splendid monarchy: Power and pageantry in modern Japan. Berkeley, University of California Press.
Frazer, James G. (1955). The golden bough. (Vol. 3). London: Macmillan and Co.
Gollin, Albert, E. (1962). Foreign study and modernisation: The transfer of technology. International Social Science Journal 19, 359-377
Goto-Jones, Christopher. (2008). The way of revering the emperor: Imperial philosophy and bushido in modern Japan. In Ben-Ami Shillony (Ed.), The emperors of modern Japan (pp. 23-54). Netherlands: Brill.
Gubbins, J. H. (1911). The Progress of Japan 1853-1871. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Gubbins, J. H. (1922). The making of modern Japan. London: Seeley, Service & Co. Ltd.
Hoare, J. E. (1994). Japan's treaty ports and foreign settlements: The uninvited guests 1858-1899. Folkestone, Kent: Japan Library.
Howe, C. (1996). The origins of Japanese trade supremacy: Development and technology in Asia from 1540 to the pacific war. London: Hurst & Co.
Humphreys, Leonard A. (1995). The way of the heavenly sword. The Japanese army in the 1920s. California: Stanford University Press.
Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and postmodernization. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Univ. Press.
Irokawa, D. (1985). The culture of the Meiji period. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Univ. Press.
Iwata, Masakazu. (1964). Okubo Toshimichi: Bismarck of Japan. California: University of California Press
Jansen, M. B. (1980). Japan and its world: Two Centuries of Change. Princeton University Press.
Jansen, B. Marius. (1983). The Meiji modernizers. In Clark L. Beck & Ardath W. Burks (Eds.), Aspects of Meiji modernisation: The Japan helpers and the helped (pp. 11-39). New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
Jansen, M. B. (1989). The Cambridge History of Japan. vol. 5: The Nineteenth Century (Vol. 5). Cambridge University Press.
Jansen, M. B., & Rozman, G. (2014). Japan in transition, from Tokugawa to Meiji. Princeton University Press.
Jones, H. J. (1980). Live machines: Hired foreigners and Meiji Japan. Paul Norbury Publications.
Keene, D. (2005). Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his world, 1852-1912. Columbia University Press: New York.
Lehmann, Jean-Pierre. (1982). The roots of modern Japan. Palgrave Macmillan.
Magarey, D. (2020). Saigo Takamori: Japanese samurai. Retrieved from
Maki, John M. (1983). The Japan helpers. In Clark L. Beck and Ardath W. Burks (Eds.), Aspects of Meiji modernisation: The Japan helpers and the helped (pp. 21-39). New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
Masamoto, Kitajima & Hurst, G. Cameron. (2020). Japan from 1850 to 1945: The Meiji restoration. Retrieved from
Michio Nagai. M. (2005). Westernization and japanization: The early Meiji transformation of education. In Donald H. Shively (Ed.), Tradition and modernization in Japanese culture (pp. 53-94). New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Nakamura, T., & Feldman, R. A. (1983). Economic growth in prewar Japan. Yale University Press.
Norman, E. H. (1940). Japan’s emergence as a modern state: Political and economic problems of the Meiji period. New York: Institute of Pacific Relations.
Obispo, Joanna Luisa. (2017). Japan’s fukoku Kyohei: A continuous pursuit of economic and military powers. Ugong,9, 56-80.
Ohno, K. (2019). Meiji Japan: Progressive learning of western technology. In Arkebe Oqubay and Kenichi Ohno (Eds.), How nations learn: Technological learning, industrial policy, and catch-up (pp. 85-106). Oxford University Press
Ohno, Kenichi. (2018). The history of Japanese economic development: Origins of private dynamism and policy competence. Routledge.
Oka, Yoshitake. (1986). Five political leaders of modern Japan: Ito Hirobumi, Okuma Shigenobu, Hara Takashi, Inukai Tsuyoshi, and Saionji Kimmochi (Andrew Fraser & Patricia Murray, Trans.). Tokyo: Tokyo University Press.
Presseisen, Ernst. (1965). Before aggression: Europeans train the Japanese Army. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Ramseyer, J. Mark, and Rosenbluth, Frances M. (1995). The politics of oligarchy: institutional choice in imperial Japan. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Shively, Donald, H. (1971). The Japanization of the middle Meiji. In Donald H. Shively (Ed.), Tradition and modernization in Japanese Culture (pp. 92-138). New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Silbermann, B. S., and Harootunian, H. D. (Eds.). (1966). Modern Japanese leadership: Transition and change. Tucson, Arizona: Univ. of Arizona Press.
Sims, R. L. (1991). A political history of modern Japan 1868-1952. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Ltd.
Smith, T. C. (1955). Political change and industrial development in Japan: Government enterprise, 1868-1880. California: Stanford Univ. Press.
Soviak, Eugene. (1971). On the nature of western progress: The journal of the Iwakura embassy.” In Donald H. Shively (Ed.), Tradition and modernization in Japanese Culture (pp. 25-52). New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Sugiyama, Shinya. (1988). Japan’s industrialization in the world economy 1859-1899: Export trade and overseas competition. London: The Athlone Press.
Sumikawa, S. 1999. The Meiji Restoration: Roots of Modern Japan. Retrieved from
Takane, Masa’aki. (1972). Factors influencing the mobility of Japanese political elites: 1860-1920 (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of California, Berkeley.
Takii, K., Manabu, T., Murray, P., & Fister, P. (2014). Itō Hirobumi Japan's first prime minister and father of the Meiji Constitution. Routledge.
Tames, Richard. (1991). Encounters with Japan. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Theodore De Bary, W., Ryusaku Tsunoda, R., Keene, D. (1964). Sources of Japanese tradition. (Vol. 2). Columbia University Press: New York
Tsuzuki, Chushichi. (2000). The pursuit of power in modern Japan 1825-1995. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
Umegaki, Michio. (1998). After the restoration: The beginning of Japan’s modern state. New York: New York Univ. Press
Uyehara, G. E. (1910). The political development of Japan 1867-1909. London: Constable & Co. Ltd.
Wahyuni, Dina. (2012). The research design maze: Understanding paradigms, cases, methods, and methodologies. Journal of Applied Management Accounting Research, 10(1), 69- 78.
Wakamori, Taro. (1973). Tennosei no rekishi shinri (The historical psychology of the emperor-system). Tokyo: Kabunda.
Webb, H. (1968). The Japanese Imperial Institution in the Tokugawa Period (New York: Columbia University Press.
White, Marilyn Domas & Marsh, Emily E. (2006). Content analysis: A flexible methodology. Retrieved from
How to Cite
MANSOR MAJDIN, Mohamad Firdaus. Meiji Prominent Leaders and Their Perceptions of Western Science and Technology: A Brief Analysis. Asian Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 1, p. 196-209, apr. 2022. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 04 july 2022.